Handle Organization & Small Business Stress With Covey’s 3 Circles
What: Reframe Stressful Small Business Situations through the Circles of Concern, Influence, and Control.
Why: You will be reenergized, see things more clearly, and move forwards aligned with reality.
Have you ever looked up how diamonds are formed? Pure carbon atoms have to undergo the duress of approximately 725,000 pounds per square inch (vs the 15 psi we normally experience in the air), and at temperatures of 2000 – 2200 degrees Fahrenheit (which is 2x as hot as the sun).
As you are (or have or will be) feeling intense stress and heat, here’s a quick exercise introducing Covey’s three circles to help you become a diamond, to not only endure but be powerfully transformed through this pressure and heat.
First, divide everything in your mind into one of two categories – it is either something you’re concerned about or are not concerned about. Everything you’re concerned about (e.g., health of your business during a global crisis) falls in your Circle of Concern and whatever you’re not concerned about (e.g., health of a random country’s economy) falls outside it.
Second, divide everything in your Circle of Concern into one of two categories – either something you can personally directly influence or you can’t. This is the trickiest part of this exercise because there are a lot of things you’re concerned about that you actually cannot in any relevant timeframe personally impact (e.g., change the price of oil, whether the federal government unveils another financial bailout package, etc.). Everything you can impact falls into your Circle of Influence.
Third, divide everything in your Circle of Influence into two last subcategories – either something involving only your own behavior or not. Anything involving anyone other than yourself falls outside this last, third circle, the Circle of Control, because the only thing any of us have any degree of absolute and direct control over is our own behavior.
So how can this help you become a diamond rather simply crack under the stress and duration you’re experiencing?
Take the following two question self-assessment to see.
1. What concerns do you focus most of your time and energies on? Which circle do they fall in?
2. Which of your circles is growing?
Recognize that you are giving power to whatever you give yourself to.
Investing in anything outside your Circle of Influence gives negative energy to that Circle of Concern and shrinks your Circle of Influence. Focusing and acting on the issues within your Circle of Influence or Circle of Control ignites positive energy within and allows you to push those borders outwards, so you can influence more and more areas of your life.
Reading or listening to Covey’s 7 Habits to understand his full personal transformation framework would be a worthwhile investment for sure.
To give you a quick ROI today, here’s the short answer.
1. Circle of Control: Work on your habits to solve your own behavioral concerns.
2. Circle of Influence: Learn and use different methods of influence to solve these concerns.
3. Circle of Concern: Learn to live with these concerns even though you don’t like them, but do so staying focused on controlling your response to those concerns.
In some ways, the above next steps are captured in the serenity prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous. “Lord, give me the courage to change the things which can be and ought to be changed, the serenity to accept the things which cannot be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Just as diamonds are a valued and rare commodity, so great character driven leadership is also only formed under great stress and pressure and is also a rare and precious commodity today.
Now that you’ve experienced Covey’s three circle analysis, on what circle are you going to focus your time and energies? Our hope is you will choose to be transformed into a diamond, knowing that the greater the stress and pressure the more solid and valuable your character driven leadership will be.