I’ve noticed recently a lot of content in my social media network is based on the current escalating problems in the Middle East.

Whenever I see such content from a friend or follower, I’m reminded of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Circle of Influence, Circle of Concern.

Covey says that in order to remain truly effective, we should focus our time and energy on situations we can influence. Don’t worry about things we cannot control, such as the weather, the economy or indeed foreign conflicts.

Covey’s work implies that if we identify the areas that are inside our Circle of Influence we will be more productive and make more of an impact;


If I’m honest I find this work quite harsh in its approach. Indeed it might not sit well with everyone. However, I personally found myself much less burdened once I could identify which problems I had control over.

Expand your influence

I still find myself watching the news, reading press reports and shaking my head at the global problems we’ve yet to solve. Covey’s stance is a tough one to take - don’t waste energy on X, your time and resources are better utilised by focusing on what you can change.

Some examples:

  • I’m concerned about global warming => recycle waste as best you can, be energy efficient with your devices, insulate your home more effectively.

  • I’m concerned about my finances => learn new skills, look for a better role, try to control your spending, reduce unnecessary outgoings.

  • I’m concerned about my health => get a check up, start to eat healthily, take regular exercise, reduce tobacco and alcohol intake.

What I like about Covey’s advice is that it’s sending a clear message - are we able to make the sun shine at weekends? Can we solve the UK economic crisis by next month? Is there really anything we can do to bring about peace in the Middle East? The likely answer for most of us is no. We simply have no control on areas outside of our power.

But if you step back into your circle of influence and be pro-active, you can make a real difference.

Further reading