What Are the 3 Circles of Influence?

As coaches, we are often charged with helping individuals carve out better paths to travel along their life’s journey. What are the 3 circles of influence? The three circles of influence were brought to light in mainstream coaching by Stephen Covey in his The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and it is a highly effective method of helping sort out the concerns one has in a client’s life.

Your concerns can draw an enormous amount of energy from your resources, so it is important to sort out the details to better focus your attention and energy where it can be useful and have the most impact on your life. The three circles of influence are a great tool for use in this sifting and sorting process.

Once you have completed the work of delineating the three areas which include the things you can control, those things which you can influence, and those things which you have no influence over, then you can choose to focus your energy and attention on the appropriate information as they come to your awareness. This leads to a happier more productive life.

To start, draw three circles on a piece of paper and label them as Control, Influence, and Concerns.

Next place the subjects which you are concerned about throughout your day is each appropriate circle.


In the circle titled “Control” put all the things, you are concerned or passionate about over which you have total control. These will come easily to you, slowly at first, then more rapidly as we go along.


The “Influence” circle is for all the things that you are concerned about that you may not have direct control over but may have some influence over and could potentially shift the direction of a concern or its momentum by adding your attention or energy to it.

For instance, you may not be able to tell someone what to do, but you could influence them by talking to them, persuading them, or helping to emotionally support or finance them. These are examples of influence.


While all these issues which you may or may not have control or influence of garner your attention and could potentially distract you from achieving your highest and best, the circle of “Concerns” contains all those things that you neither have control nor influence over.

No matter what they are or how passionately you feel about them, you simply cannot do anything about them. They go in the circle of concerns.

As you move through this process, if you think more about the items in your circle of concerns that you feel like they are totally out of your control whatsoever, you may realize that you may be able to have some influence over them. Then you can move them to the influence circle.

And if you discover that you have more control over things in your circle of influence than you first gave yourself credit for, you could move them to your circle of control.

Once you have completed this task, you will have charted out those things which you have control or influence over and those that you simply can have no effect on, no matter how passionately you feel about them.

The remaining list of concerns? Just forget about them. Stop wasting your time, attention, and energy thinking or worrying about them.

Focus your attention and energy on those things you either have control of, or can influence, and avoid the others, they are only distractions which drain your precious energy and resources. Stop worrying about them.

What, Me Worry?

“If anything can go wrong, it will,” is not only reportedly a summation of Murphy’s Law, but also a prime tenet of a person who is consumed with worry. Worrying about things, leads to stress and a host of other conditions and as a negative emotional state attracts more negativity.

It is reasonable to be concerned about life, loved ones and life circumstances, but when concern overtakes rational thought, it becomes worry; and worry is a killer.


Worry is an effective demonstration of the power of thought, because:

What is worry?

Thought (or concern) out of control.

And worry tends to become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Why do people worry?

Unfortunately, worry does seem to make you feel like you’re in control. I mean, if you ruminate on the worst case scenario and it comes to pass, then you have not been surprised and there is comfort in seeing your predictions come true. “See, I told you so,” is the worrier’s mantra, which even makes someone with low self esteem feel superior in the moment.

Sorrowfully, the physiological, psychological and sociological impact of harboring worry and the stress it causes on the mind, body and spirit is dangerous.

People who have a tendency to worry about things are less well than their carefree contemporaries. Physiologically, worriers are prone to high blood pressure, blood clotting, heart attack, stroke, stomach aches, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, body aches and pains including headaches and back pain.

Worry can have a profound effect on respiratory conditions including loss of breath or asthma and even skin conditions such as dry skin, itch, rash or causing the worrier to break out in hives.

Worry compromises your immune system, increasing susceptibility to being overcome by bacteria, viruses, and other disease like hypertension, diabetes and cancers.

Worry also impacts out psychological paradigms leading to anxiety, phobias, and hypochondria, increasing restlessness, fatigue, lack of concentration, irritability, problems associated with sleep and may leave the worrier with a clinical diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder.

Sociological impact can affect all your relationships, as your fall victim to paranoia and lack of trust which could lead to increased domestic disturbances and loss of interest in sex. Worry also affects one’s ability to manage finances, hold a job or conduct business as usual and if conditions persist may cause being disrespected by peers and an inability to cope with everyday life, let alone unforeseen disruptions or challenges that might arise.

Stop Worrying

Right, we all know we would be better off without being bogged down with worry. No one actually wants to be consumed by worry or be labeled a worry wart. Worry is bad, we get that, but to stop worrying altogether, is quite a jump because worry is a negative state of mind that could easily be an addiction.

How to Stop Worrying

To change one’s process of thinking is a process that takes time. The axiom, “one day at a time,” is totally apropos when deciding to shift from negative thought processes (especially if heavily ingrained over time) to more conscious, positive thought processes.

If you know it is time to change, you can stop worrying the moment you recognize it. Think of worrying like you are on fire, your body is engulfed in flames. What are the rules?

Stop, Drop and Roll

Stop the thought by interrupting it. Say the word, “Stop,” out-loud (if you’re in private) or slap your forehead (the one-handed clap, as my friend calls it). Drop that thought, like it’s a hot potato and roll it over into a positively spun thought.

For instance, if you’re worrying, “I’ll never be able to finish this assignment on time, and I may be demoted or lose my job if I don’t…”

Stop! (Slap)

Drop that thought, and

Roll it into a more positive one, like, “I am doing the best I can, maybe I can do better. In fact, if I rearrange my schedule and put a little more effort into this, it might be awesome and on-time. I might even get a promotion.”

Small shifts, like this, can have a huge impact on your life, liberating your from the ill effects or worry, so that you can go on about your life as you begin to enjoy all the good things this life has to offer.