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The Circle of Influence

August 26, 2012

With a new school year starting, things can get kinda hectic.  Is it just me or is there tons of extra night meetings in August and September?  Between Open House nights, curriculum nights, sports meetings and various other kick-offs, this is a busy time of the year for most families.  In fact, it can be an overwhelming time of the year.  Lots of excitement, but all lots of criss-crossing information.

One simple word of advice:  focus on what you can control and let the other stuff go.  Stephen Covey called this the Circle of Influence vs the Circle of Concern.  The Circle of Concern is everything we are possibly concerned about including:  our jobs, our relationships, our kid’s future, Aids in Africa, world politics, our favorite sports team, drug use in our community and anything else you can think of.  The Circle of Influence is a smaller circle within the Circle of Concern where we actually have some influence.  Covey says the most effective people spend their time in the Circle of Influence and slowly that circle will become larger.

On a good day, the only person I can truly control is myself.  If I want to be a great father, then I need to think about what I can do, rather than waiting for other people to change.  The bad teacher, the obnoxious coach, the less than desirable boy/girlfriend might not change a ton in our kids lives, but our responses can change dramatically.  If a situation becomes untenable or dangerous then direct action is warranted by us as parents, otherwise practice patience and look for teachable moments where your influence can be maximized.  Our children truly grow when they figure out life lessons with a little guidance from us, rather than us rescuing them or giving them all the answers.

Walk in the Circle of Influence and watch it expand with your children.

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach in Oak Park, IL.  contact him @

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