HABIT 1: Circle of Influence vs Circle of Concern

By Lisa Maslove


Stephen Covey, author of the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, details how businesses and individuals can obtain positive change by aligning with universal principles based on ‘character ethics’.  In his book, Habits 1, 2 and 3 are based on moving from Dependence to Independence and the initiative for this change is Habit 1 - Be Proactive. Being Proactive means taking responsibility for our own behaviours and attitudes. A key part of embracing Habit 1 deals with recognising the Circle of Concern (things we can’t control) vs Circle of Influence (things we can do something about).  As a member of the Flow team, I work with small businesses in a range of industries. Covey’s advice made me think about how business leaders can practice Habit 1 when it comes to climate change. 


7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Habit #1: Be Proactive


Until recently, many people thought of climate change as something we can’t control. Increasingly, we are realizing there are things we can do to put our planet on a more sustainable path.  In other words, climate change is within the Circle of Influence for each of us as consumers, employers, and business owners.


So, what can small businesses do about climate change?


Small businesses make a number of procurement and spending decisions that affect the environment.  Here are some areas you can review in your own business:



Can your business cut back on the amount of travel (especially air travel) required?  Where a face-to-face meeting is required, can you encourage the use of public transit or carpooling? If a meeting is simply face-to-face, and not person-to-person, can you utilise video meeting applications such as Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc.?  The business community can also advocate for public transit and applaud decision-makers for investing in transit. Here in Guelph, City Council recently voted to increase bus service to a local business park that is home to numerous employers.



Have you looked at your heating, lighting and electronic use to look for ways to conserve? Conserving energy will also help cash flow, especially as carbon pricing increases. 



We all love it when the boss orders in lunch but what about the resulting garbage?  A growing number of cities are banning foam take-out containers. If you don’t live in one of those cities, you can still manage waste by supporting restaurants that use biodegradable packaging or even better going to the actual restaurant. (And plastic beverage bottles are obviously a no-no, right?)



Do you know whether your suppliers are tracking their environmental impact? Consider looking into their sustainability plans and targets when sourcing the goods and services you need for your business.  The B Corporation directory shows the B Impact Score for each B Corp. Environment is one of five impact areas.


What is your organization doing about sustainability?  Does your business have a carbon budget? We’d love to hear your thoughts.