Every one of us owns two circles – a circle of concern and a circle of influence.
The circle of concern comprises of everything that has the potential to affect our feelings. Our health, financial status, career development, the state of our friends and our loved ones – all these lie within our circle of concern. When something changes within this circle, it affects us for better or for worse.
The circle of influence comprises everything that we have an influence over. Whatever lies inside is affected by our words, actions and decisions. It includes the people who care about us and those who depend upon us. It also includes affairs we can directly influence – from a massive project we lead at work to the cleanliness of our dining table.
The balance between these circles directly affects our well-being.
People whose circle of concern is much larger than their circle of influence are constantly riddled with anxiety. They are affected by things that are not directly within their control. We have little control over a nation’s politics, the proliferation of a pandemic, or the weather on a particular day. Yet if these things dominate our circle of concern, they overwhelm us.
People whose circle of influence is much larger than their circle of concern can often make decisions that are irresponsible. The founders of Twitter, in its initial days, were quite unaware of how the platform was being used for bullying, mobbing and targeted verbal abuse. The design of their platform enabled this behaviour, but it lay outside their circle of concern until recently.
The Goldilocks balance is when your circle of concern and your circle of influence are about equal in size. That way, you are only concerned about things you control, and you wield that power responsibly.
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