How much time in your week do you spend on things you can’t influence? Our circle of influence includes things we can affect directly. Our circle of concern includes things we worry about but may have not control over. Proactive people change the world because they make conscious decisions to influence matters in ways that they have the ability to respond (their response-ability). People who put their focus on a circle of concern shrink their circle of influence.
More importantly, influencing life episodes with a positive attitude increases our circle of influence and nurtures healthy relationships. For some reason, we think that chewing someone’s head off is going to cause a positive outcome. Adding negative to any situation usually makes this situation worse and erodes the foundation of every relationship – trust. When situations are difficult and we choose to use frontal lobe thinking, problems are resolved and relationships improved. The math is simple. Add a negative to a negative and you get more negative. Add a positive to a negative and the number line moves to the right. It is much easier to knock someone down than it is to lift them up, but lifting begets strength and health.
Here is a dialogue prompt you can use to discuss being proactive with your children.
- Think of a problem or an opportunity you have right now.
- Draw the two circles above and list actions that are of concern or influence.
- If something in the list is a concern, let it go.
- If it is something that can be influenced, be proactive.
- Discuss how proactive behavior can be acted out with a positive attitude and action.
Students who practice proactive behavior are able to ignore distractions, prioritize tasks, complete class assignments, and plan ahead. Academic, athletic, artistic, or any other intelligence will grow by focusing on the circle of influence and minimizing time and effort on areas of concern or distraction. Like every habit, it takes 3-20 times to turn it into a habit. Be patient, persistent, and positively proactive.