Circles

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I did a lot of thinking yesterday and today on the subject of my own behaviors and attitudes. I came to the conclusion that I have been putting too much focus on things outside my circle of control. Doing this has caused me a great deal of frustration. It’s not entirely my fault – certain things were made to appear as though they were within my control, or at the very least my influence, but in reality those things fell into my circle of interest/concern. If I focus my attention and behaviors on items that fall within my circle of control, and a few things in my circle of influence, I’ll probably be a lot more satisfied.

All of that thinking made me want to find a nice illustration of this point. So, here is someone else’s depiction of the three circles we should all be aware of:

circles-of-control

Many people focus their attention and behavior on things in their circle of concern/interest, the outer circle. Most of what we see and hear on TV, radio, internet, etc. falls within that circle. You have no control, or even influence, on what celebrities wear or who they date or whether your football team wins on Sunday.

In the middle is the circle of influence. The spectrum of influence is wide – we have a small degree of influence over presidential elections, or who wins American Idol. We have a much larger degree of influence over the happenings in town council, or what school bus seats our kids sit in. We still don’t have complete control over these things, but we can at least sway the decision makers or have a say in the matter.

The central circle is that of control. Real control. I picked what clothes to wear this morning. I chose to help the old lady across the street. I earned an A on the science exam. Sure, there are times when certain things we think we control turn out to be a little less controllable than we thought, but in general the things that fall into this circle are consistently our decisions to make.

Focusing our time and attention on the things within our circle of control enables us to slowly extend ourselves. If I do a good job controlling Project A, then perhaps I will be given control of Project B, and I’ll earn a say in what happens with Project C. In contrast, if I focus my time and attention on items that fall outside my circle of control or influence then I will be devoting a large amount of time to things that I have no power over, and there’s a good chance that I will feel a lack of control over my life and I will spend my life on a roller coaster of highs and lows dictated by other peoples’ choices.

So there’s your deep thought for the day.

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