Cameron Gott, PCC
ADHD Coaching for Leaders & Professionals


The Global Creative Blog

Covey's 1st Habit Part II: Intentional Choice and Circle of Influence

This is part 2 in my Guru Talk series deciphering Stephen Covey's 7-Habits of  Highly Successful People

Circle of Influence/Circle of Concern

Covey distinguishes the Circle of Influence (the focus of proactive people) and the Circle of Concern (the focus of reactive people) suggesting individuals can freely and willfully choose one or the other.  This is absolutely true, but for the individual with ADHD the choice is not always so cut and dry.

Covey defines the Circle of Influence as “things we can do something about: health, children, problems at work”.  He defines the Circle of Concern as “things over which we have little or no control: the national debt, terrorism, the weather”.

Serenity Prayer

It seems as if Covey has drawn inspiration from the Serenity Prayer which in the final line speaks to the having the wisdom of distinguishing what one can and cannot control.  In highly dynamic settings with wavering attention systems and fallible memories, Global Creative’s can lose sight of their Circle of Influence and wander into regions beyond their control.  In making far reaching connections the global brain does not always discern subtle boundaries.  I’m not talking about wandering from problems at work to terrorism.  I’m talking about highly complex work projects with multiple team members and infinite possible outcomes.  In the midst of numerous exchanges (through phone, email and meetings), it is easy to lose sight of our own priorities and wander into someone else’s especially if they are in our area of expertise.

Regarding the Circle of Concern, with a lifetime of struggle and inaccurate information as to the cause of those struggles an individual with undiagnosed ADHD will tend to fill in the blank with self-damning self talk.  ANTS (Automatic Negative Self Talk) can keep us camped out in the Circle of Concern indefinitely.  In addition, a global creative responder can develop a nasty rescuer identity.  In part because the clarity for them is outside their own brain but unfortunately beyond their own Circle of Influence (notice how it’s easier to look at other people’s problems?).

Covey is right that every moment provides a new choice.  When we can get objective about our areas of influence and concern and recognize the triggers associated with them then we move a step closer to intentional choice.


Identifying and Remembering the Remind the Brain of our Circle of Influence is a regular exercise for the successful Global Creative.

Just as there is a proactive posture, Covey speaks of a proactive language.  Notice your language.  It doesn’t have to all be proactive.  What’s more useful is consistent accurate language.

“I have been successful here in the past, I will be again”.

Spend time getting strategic (reflective) about your choices.  The idea of intentional choice resonates with me.  With this, consider two perspectives:

Consequences in the absence of completion  – “What happens if I don’t complete this?”

Opportunities and payoff with completion- “What happens if I do complete this?”

Awareness is the starting point to developing better proactive habits.