It's the Circle of Balance

Great Leaders Care about what they Care about – which improves both their effectiveness as a leader and their sense of personal satisfaction

Epictetus the Greek philosopher said: 

We are disturbed, not by the events of life, but by the views we take of them.
— Epictetus

And King Solomon said

For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.
— King Solomon

There are 2 kinds of people in the world: proactive and reactive. Stephen Covey describes this in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  7 Habits is essential reading for anyone interested in improving themselves and their career.  It is one of the titles includes in my Foundations of Leadership Library – I’ll explain how to get a free copy of the Library later.

Reactive people are always reacting to what is happing to them and around them. If the weather is sunny they feel good, if its rainy they feel bad. If someone says something negative, they feel crushed and demotivated. Reactive people blame their attitudes and personality on their upbringing and their genetics.  For reactive people - how they feel is always a reaction to something that someone else does or does not do.

Proactive people, in contrast, take responsibility for themselves - they are responsible;

that is: they are response-able — Proactive people are able to control their response to their situation and circumstances.  I’ll explain how in a second.                           

The difference shows up in the language we use. Reactive people say things like: I can’t, I have to, if only.   Proactive people speak like this: I will, I prefer, I can!

Proactive people are happier than reactive people because they are in control of their response to any circumstance. We cannot control our circumstances - but we can control our reaction to them.                          

Our circumstances can be described like this:


That’s you in the middle (running around getting your crazy on).

The inner circle is the things you can actually do something about - this is your circle of influence

The outer circle is the things you care about - but do not have the power or ability to do change - this is your circle of concern - bigger, isn’t it? 

Effective leaders tend to focus on their circle of influence - the spend their time an energy on things they can actually do something about – things that are part of their job description, staff who are part of their reporting line, areas of the operation that are under their control.

In their personal life, Proactive people focus on things like: their health and diet, their relationships, their walk with God, their home, their job.

Reactive Leaders are less effective, because they tend to focus on their circle of concern - they spend their time and emotionally energy on things they really are not able to change: for example, the behaviour of the competition or how another leader is running their team.

In their personal life, they focus on things like the weather, politics, what other people do, think or say, the choices their friend is making which they think are bad choices, the life choices their children make, who their ex is now dating…

Can you see how focusing your thoughts and emotions on things you cannot change will just leave you frustrated, disappointed... Since every choice to do something is a choice not to do something else, every time we spend an hour focusing on our circle of concern (which usually achieves very little) we are not spending that hour focusing on our circle of influence and actually achieving something and getting stuff done!

We should not ignore our circle of concern - it is all the things we are concerned about after all.  But the amount of time we spend on those matters should be less, perhaps much less, than the time we spend on our circle of influence.  We cannot change what is happening in our circle of concern but we may need to react to it – for example a change in the law or a change in the market. As our influence grows we will find certain things move into our circle of influence and so it is sensible to review our circle of concern on a regular basis to ensure we do not miss opportunities.  It’s all a matter of balance.

Now I can’t tell you what that balance is – you will need to work it out for yourself based on the nature of your leadership role and the shape of your life but I would expect it to be something like – you focus on your circle of influence every day and only once a week or once a month do you address your circle of concern.

I’ve created a bonus download to help you this week – the Circle of Balance.  You can get it from the blog post at The Circle of Balance worksheet will help you identify where things in your life it – are they in your circle of concern or your circle of influence – and then you can proactively decide how often you need to give them your attention and energy.

Earlier I promised to return to the question of how proactive people are able to control their response to their situation and circumstances.

Our response to a situation is just an expression of our subconscious beliefs about our self. Often those beliefs can be self-limiting because they are negative and not true.

Let me give you an example.  If I believe that I am not good at job interviews, then I will react with fear and avoidance strategies when I need to change jobs or find a new contract which will, of course, make it less likely I will find the job I desire.  But did you notice it was what I believed about my interview ability – not the actual ability itself that is the determining factor.  I may be able to give a great interview – but if I believe that I do not, then this will shape my confidence levels and behaviour in my job search and the interview itself causing me to under-perform.

So you see our response to any situation is the result of what we think and believe about our self at the subconscious level and the attitudes that we choose to adopt.

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.
— Brian Tracy

The basics of leadership are described in my book Foundations of Leadership which you can download for free on my website – just go to and you can get the Foundations of Leadership resource pack which includes the eBook and other bonuses. 

Once you have mastered the foundations, the next level of leadership and personal success requires you to adopt the attitudes of success and the attitudes of leadership.  And as we said earlier, the right attitudes will enable you to identify and seize the opportunities present in every circumstance.

So what are these attitudes of leadership – how can you learn them and use them?

My online course HIGH FLYERS will teach you the 10 essential attitudes of leadership and how to apply them to your career with a bias towards working as a Leader in a technology driven organisation.  You can sign up for HIGH FLYERS today at and if you take advantage of the monthly payment plan it costs less than a takeaway each month.  Not a bad investment to secure your next promotion and unlock the influence, impact and income that will give you the life you desire and deserve.

Don’t forget go to click the button below to download a copy of this article along with the Circle of Balance worksheet and links to all the other resources mentioned.