Throughout the course of our lives, we are all faced with countless people and events that impact us. Although some of these may dramatically change the course of history, such as the terrorist attacks on 9/11, others merely affect us as individuals, such as how much we choose to study for our school/college exams. Still, regardless of how substantial or trivial something may seem, the fact is: some things are out of our control. This is the principle behind the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern. The difference between these two issues is quite simple: the Circle of Influence includes the things an individual can control, such as our retirement savings, the well-being of our children, our own health, the family budget, and personal credit card debt. Conversely, the Circle of Concern is a broader spectrum and includes things over which we have limited or no control, such as world hunger, poverty, disease, terrorism, and the economy. Recognizing the difference between these two may be easy, but changing our focus can be an entirely different matter. Still, there is significant evidence that individuals who focus their energy and resources on their direct circle of influence achieve greater levels of success, attain more of their personal goals and enjoy an immensely better quality of life. But why does the circle of influence have such bearing on our overall lives? The reason the circle of influence is so important is because the more we focus on the things we can control, the broader the circle becomes. As an example, imagine a clerk at a chain office supply store who is unhappy with his job. He likes the customers and enjoys being of service to them, but he is unfulfilled by the position he holds and wants to start his own print shop. Instead of letting his unhappiness consume him, he performs the best job he knows how, offers excellent customer service, earning respect and repeat business from many local offices and shops. As a result, when he opens his shop, he already has a vast network of clients who appreciate his attentiveness and believe in his abilities. The world is filled with people who are unhappy with their current situation but are either unsure or unaware of how to increase their circle of influence. Some of the things that prevent us from achieving the things we want and need can seem so insignificant that we do not see them as a threat. Yet, these are the biggest obstacles of all. There are numerous things in your direct circle of influence that can sabotage personal goals, from the way you spend your time and how much television you watch to how you treat others, the people you associate with and how much effort you put into the products and services you deliver. It all comes down to choices and while you may not be able to control everything all over the world, working hard to take care of what you are able can make or break your entire life. No one expects you to single-handedly eradicate the federal deficit, stop global warming or prevent all contagious diseases. However, you are not powerless. You have the power of choice. You can educate yourself and your children and exercise your right to vote, control the energy use in your own home and maintain healthy habits and vaccines. Control the things you can and do not use the inability to stop an entire problem as an excuse to take no action at all. - Suggested discussion with the teens and school-going children about this precursor facilitated by the parents/teachers are: Questions: 1) Name one recent happening that changed the history. 2) Name one recent happening that had a profound impact personally on you. 3) How does the power of choice help our personal growth and development?