Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Articles → Circle of influence - Circle of concern

There’s a great metaphor in the book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.

The author says to imagine a circle that contains all the things you care about:

circle of concern

Inside of it, imagine a circle that contains all the things you can do something about:

circle of influence

Your goal is to either expand your ability to do something about the things you care about...

expand circle of influence

... or shrink your circle of concern — meaning: stop caring about some things — so that you don’t care too much about things you can’t do anything about.

It’s an interesting metaphor I’ve thought of often. But the most interesting part, to me, was at the end where he said that some dangerous individuals’ circle of influence is actually bigger than their circle of concern. They are affecting more than they care about, often unintentionally hurting others in their path.

I’ve felt like that a lot over the last six years. I employ 85 people at CD Baby. I’ve never even met half of them. Clients I don’t know get hurt because I never replied to an email I never saw. I started hiring the services of a small company, then changed plans, and found out that my change-of-plans sent them into default on a bank loan, practically destroying their company. Etc.

I’m dangerous. I’m trying to be more cautious. I really do think of everything from the other person’s point of view, but man it’s hard to take every affected person into consideration for every decision.