Friday, January 05, 2007
The Circle of Influence and the Project Manager
(Exerpts from Habit 1: Be Proactive, in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey)
I'm a big fan of Dr. Stephen Covey. His book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a must read for anyone seeking to be highly effective. One of the concepts Dr. Covey talks about in his books is the "Circle of Concern" and the "Circle of Influence". The basic concept is that we need to focus our time and energy on the important things that we can control. Inside the Circle of Concern there is a smaller circle in the middle called the Circle of Influence. We should spend most of our time and efforts focused on the things in this Circle of Influence.
As Dr. Covey states "proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase." "Reactive people on the other hand, focus their efforts in the "Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink."
Key point – Focus on important things that you can control. Work to enlarge your Circle of Influence and you will automatically reduce the Circle of Concerns area.
Dr. Covey goes on to say:
One way to notice where our energy and focus is located is to distinguish between the have's and the be's. The Circle of Concern is filled with the have's:
· 'I'll be happy when I have my house paid off.'
· 'If only I had a more patient spouse...'
· 'If only I had better employees/co-workers...'
· 'If only I had a boss who wasn't so demanding...'
The Circle of Influence is filled with the be's:
· 'I can be more patient...'
· 'I can be a better employee...'
· 'I can be more wise...'
It's a character focus. Any time we think the problem is 'out there,' that thought is the problem. We empower what's out there to control us. The change paradigm is 'outside-in'--what's out there has to change before we can change.
The proactive approach is to change from the inside-out; to be different, and by being different to effect positive change in what's out there--I can be more resourceful, I can be more diligent, I can be a better listener, I can be a better leader.
Buy Dr. Stephen Covey's book or check it out from your local library. It is one of the best books you will ever read.