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5 tips to expanding your level of influence

Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern

Steven Covey gave us the circle of influence and the circle of concern. Simply put (he says), there are two types of issues in life – those we can influence…what to have for dinner, how to solve the problem of the lost keys, our children’s behaviour, planning our household expenses, planning our year, and those we can’t…world peace, our bosses behaviour, how to solve the problems of the universe. In each of our lives there will be many issues that come up that we can influence and also many that come up that we have no control over in the present moment. The advice Covey gives is to focus on the things you can influence (be proactive) and don’t worry about the things you can’t. Many of us though, focus on the things we can’t influence more than the things we can. When we do this we are being reactive and are using up a lot of energy for very little gain.

So how can you make sure you focus only on the things you can influence? Doing the following exercise will help.

To find list all of the problems or issues you have right now and cut round each one – you will now have lots of single issues on little bits of paper. Now draw 2 circles one inside the other on a big piece of paper. The inner one is the circle of influence, the outer, the circle of concern.

Now put all of the issues you can do something about in the inner circle and all the issues you can’t do something about in the outer circle. Now focus all of your energy on addressing the issues you can do something about. As you do this you will find that in the end you begin to move more issues from the outer to the inner circle. You will have begun to increase your influence by being proactive.

Find Out What Others Think

As you begin to work on the issues you can do something about, for each issue work out who are the key people impacted by this issue. For each of these learn their perspective – these people are your stakeholders.

Have Conversations

Find out what your stakeholders need to know or want to know, what do they want or need to have or do – what are their goals, what do they need you to do – what do you need them to do? To make the most of these conversations make sure you plan them (see previous blog post: How to make the most of meetings or conversations and achieve the results that you want).

Set Clear Goals

For each issue, set clear, Specific Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely (SMART) goals (blog on goal setting coming soon).

Small Wins

Make sure that you acknowledge and celebrate achievements along the way however small. Each one is a small step towards increasing your influence – look back often to see how far you have come and acknowledge what you can now influence that you couldn’t before.

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