Circles of Influence – Coaching Yourself to Action

The circle of concern has everything you care about in it.

Just because you care about something and you are passionate about it, does that always mean you can do something about it? I expect your answer will be the same as mine, it’s a No!

SO when I am faced with a problem, I get a bit of paper and I draw four concentric circles like those to the side, and then use this image as a guide and a way to focus my limited resource – Me and my time.

To help explain the process, I will use the example of selling and buying a house. Remember this is an example that you can use to understand the concept of circles of influence, and then apply the approach to something you care about.

  • First step: I write my problem in the outer most circle Number 1 : I want to move!
  • My next step is to think through all the possible solutions and l write them down on a separate piece of paper.
  • I then number each solution as per each circle above, and then to help me focus, actually write them onto the circles on my first bit of paper.


  • Everything outside my control and outside my influence would be numbered 2.
  • Everything I can influence would be numbered 3.
  • Everything I can control would be numbered 4.

Here are some examples of statements with the number of the circle in which they sit:

  • Choose an estate agent to sell my house – No. 4
  • Choose the area I want to live in – No. 4
  • Hope the interest rates stay low – No. 2
  • Get the mortgage agreement with a bank – No. 3
  • Make my house welcoming and in good repair to sell – No. 4
  • The local search comes back without issues – No. 2
  • Wonder if the state of the housing market is good for sellers – No. 2
  • What if I sell before I find somewhere to buy? – No. 3
  • Timings of viewings – No. 3
  • Price for selling – No. 2
  • How to afford what I want to buy – No. 2
  • Where the house is marketed – No. 3

I can now see more clearly where I can be pro-active and that is with everything in circle No. 4. I can also begin to work on things in circle No. 3 and consequently some of these will then move into circle No. 4. The bigger circle No. 4 is (i.e. the more statements there are in it), the more energy and time I have for things in circle No. 3 and I begin to see evidence that I am making a difference.

Remember, it may feel relatively easy to spend time and focus on issues in circle No. 2 however, it means that you will not be taking responsibility for your actions and outcomes and your energy will decrease and your impact on what matters to you will be minimal at best.

Prior to using this method of problem solving, I use to find myself being reactive, sometimes blaming others, feeling powerless and demotivated. Consequently, I would have little energy left to even think about, never mind do something about the problem or issue.

So what’s on your mind?

Take the following steps and you will notice how it makes you pro-active in your problem solving to both business and personal concerns:

a. Draw your circles and number them 1,2,3,4
b. Write the solutions, think as wide and as deep as you want
c. Number the statements based on the circle within which they sit
d. Write them into the relevant circle to help focus you
e. Get on and TAKE ACTION starting with all the statements in circle No. 4

Start your journey of coaching yourself and we would love to hear from you about how you got on.

Now, have a look at this festive video which shows how one organisation made circles No. 3 and No. 4 bigger and delighted a whole host of people.

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