Principles of Personal Vision

(Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern)

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,

Stephen Covey

Principles of Personal Vision

"I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor."

Henry David Thoreau

What is Self Awareness?

Think about the mood you are now in. Can you identify it? What are you feeling? How would you describe your present mental state? Your ability to do what you just did is uniquely human. We call it "self awareness" or the ability to think about your very thought process. We are not our feelings. We are not our moods or even our thoughts. Self-awareness enables us to change ourselves and "see" others.

What is Proactivity?

It means more than merely asking initiative. It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. Look at the word responsibility - "response-ability" -the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice.

What is Reactive?

Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn't, it affects their attitude and their performance. Reactive people are also affected by their social environment, by the "social weather." When people treat them well, they feel well; when people don't, they become defensive or protective. Reactive people build their emotional lives around the behavior of others, empowering the weaknesses of other people to control them.

Proactive people can carry their own weather with them. Whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them. As Eleanor Roosevelt observed,

"No one can hurt you without your consent."

In the words of Gandhi,

"They cannot take away our self respect if we do not give it to them."

What is Taking the Initiative?

Taking initiative does not mean being pushy, obnoxious, or aggressive.

It does mean recognizing our responsibility to make things happen. Taking initiative is being resourcefulness and then taking initiative to complete the task at hand.

Listening to Our Language

Reactive Language:

  • There's nothing I can do.
  • That's just the way I am.
  • He makes me so mad.
  • They won't allow that.
  • I have to do that.
  • I can't.
  • I must.
  • If only.

Listening to Our Language

Proactive Language:

  • Let's look at our alternatives.
  • I can choose a different approach.
  • I can control my own feelings.
  • I can create an effective presentation.
  • I will choose an appropriate response.
  • I choose.
  • I prefer.
  • I will.

Circle of Concern/Circle of Influence

Another excellent way to become more self-aware regarding our own degree of proactivity is to look at where we focus our time and energy. We each have a wide range of concerns: our health, our children, problems at work, the national debt. We could separate those from things in which we have no particular mental or emotional involvement by creating a "Circle of Concern."

Circle of Concern

List your concerns in a circle.

Circle of Concern

Circle of Concern/Influence

As we look at those things within our Circle of Concern, it becomes apparent that there are some things over

which we have no real control

and others that we can do

something about.

By determining

which of these

circles is where

we focus most of

our time and energy

we can discover

about the degree of

our proactivity.

Circle of Concern

Circle of Influence

Circle of Concern/Circle of Influence

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.

Circle of Influence

The things you can control positively increase your

Circle of


Circle of


Circle of Concern/Influence

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. This causes their Circles of Influence to shrink.

If most of your time is

spent on your concerns,

your circle of

influence will


Circle of Concern




Circle of Concern/ Circle of Influence

The more you have in your circle of concern, the more ineffective you are and less trusted.

The more you have in your circle of influence, the more effective you are and people will trust and follow you.

The "Have's and the Be's"

One way to determine which circle our concern is in 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 husband...
  • If I could have more time I would...
  • If I had more money I would...

The "Have's and the Be's"

The Circle of Influence is filled with the be's

  • I can be more patient
  • I can be wise
  • I can be loving
  • I can be more resourceful
  • I can be more diligent
  • I can be more creative
  • I can be more cooperative

Making and Keeping Commitments

At the very heart of our Circle of Influence is our ability to make and keep commitments and promises. The commitments we make to ourselves and to others, and our integrity to those commitments is the essence and clearest manifestation of our proactivity. We make a promise...we keep it.


"When students and teachers make use of reflection as a tool for learning and assessment, they are creating an opening that allows them to enter into students' work, making sense of their endeavors and accomplishments, and learning how they judge their success."

R. Zessoules & H. Gardner


  • Create your own Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.
  • For a full day, listen to your language and to the language of the people around you. How often do you use and hear reactive phrases such as "If only, I can't, or I have to?
  • Think of how you can increase your Circle of Influence in the Field of Education and write this as a goal for the year.
  • Continue to work on increasing your Circle of Influence throughout this year.
Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence - Google Slides