If you’ve never studied the concept of concentric circles of influence then you probably had to stop and scratch your head for a moment when you read the title of this blog. This concept has been used to teach everything from door-to-door sales to church ministry to college planning. And, aside from its overly extended name, its a pretty simple concept that we could all benefit from if we learned how to apply it.
Basically, the circles represent the areas in which we have influence, and place them in order based on the amount of influence we have in a given area. Understanding these areas in our lives allows us to focus our efforts in the areas most likely to have the greatest impact.
Thats right…I said IMPACT!
(I love that word)
I first learned of this when I was an insurance agent. We studied something called “target marketing” and the concentric circles was used to show how we could TARGET our marketing better.
Notice how it looks like a target?
Well, the idea – just like shooting a target – is to get as close to center as possible. The closer you are to center, the higher your score or the greater your impact will be.
As an RLSH, our concentric circles are not that different than anyone else. We may dress weird, do things that others consider crazy, and live in a world one step from complete fantasy, but we still seek to impact the world around. It doesnt matter if you choose to be a charity hero or a crimefighter, this is a way you can focus your efforts in the areas they will do the most good.
So lets talk about the circles.
In the bullseye of our target is a mirror. The center of the concentric circles is always ME. Not me, as in Crossfire, but ME as in the person you see in the mirror everyday.
The one area you will have the most ability to affect is yourself…and thats one area you should never neglect. Before you can impact the world around you, you have to be sure that YOU are well taken care of.
You can’t feed the homeless if you are unable to feed yourself.
You can’t fight crime if you are unable to protect yourself.
You cant be effective at anything if you let your own self fall to pieces.
In other words…charity starts at home.
This is one of the things I’ve personally had to face recently and one of the reasons for the current happenings in THE DROP ZONE. The ONE YEAR FITNESS CHALLENGE is one step in my own effort to IMPACT the center circle of my concentric circles.
You need to consider your physical fitness and health before you begin looking for ways to serve others. Make sure you are eating enough…Exercise daily…Get plenty of rest…take time to relax also…An hour or two every week devoted to a hobby can help you more than you will ever know.
And aside from just doing the things necessary to maintain your good health, you need to do things to improve yourself…read a book…take a college course…take martial arts classes…Invest some time in making YOU more prepared for the world around you.
It is very important to make sure YOU are taken care of…because if you neglect yourself, then eventually you will be unable to help anyone else.
And don’t put your RLSH activities ahead of your job or career. You need that career to support your activities and your life. You don’t have to set at your desk and ignore a crime going on outside your window – you aren’t Bob Parr and this isn’t The Incredibles – but you don’t want to walk away from a good job just to patrol.
Remember – you can’t help anyone else if you can’t help yourself.
The next thing you need to consider in the center circle is being prepared.
Make sure you have the proper equipment for what you are planning to do when you step into that next circle. If you are going to be doing something dangerous, then have the appropriate body armor or equipment. Make sure your vehicle is running. Make sure your equipment is maintained properly.
And part of being prepared is planning things out.
If you are going into an area to patrol at night, walk that area in the daylight first. Ask yourself where criminals might hide to ambush their victims. Look for ways to escape if things get out of control. Make note of terrain features that might cause problems at night.
When you return that night, you will find it much easier to patrol if you know the area already.
Let me give an example of WHY this is a good idea.
Several years ago I was working security at a hospital. One of the posts I worked was a building that was under construction. The building had no lights and I would have to navigate through a maze of tools, supplies, and half finished projects every night using just my mini mag light to make sure the building was secure.
One night I was making my rounds with the flashlight on the ground watcing for trip hazards when I walked into a piece of duct work that was hanging low in the center of the room. The workers left it dangling about 5 feet off the ground at the end of the day which put it right at face level for me. I was moving at a pretty good pace when I smashed into this duct with my face. My feet kept going and my back met the hard concrete floor before I realized what had happened.
After regaining my senses, I finished my rounds and went back to the security office. My partner then informed me that I had blood on my face. They checked me out and found no major injury, just a minor scrape that bled a little. I did a report about the accident/injury and wrote it in the pass-down log.
Later that night my partner was making rounds in the same building and almost ran into the same duct. The only reason he missed was because he KNEW to watch for it. He knew what had happened to me and still almost ran into it.
Had I known to watch for it, I might not have crashed into it that night.
Now imagine if you were trying to run away from or after someone in the dark and you didnt know about a particular obstacle…You don’t want to run face first into a low hanging duct during a life or death situation.
Research crime rates in the areas you are partolling. Know the bar schedules. Keep a list of emergency numbers in your cell phone.
And most of all…let someone know where you are. If something bad happens then someone needs to know where to start looking for you.
The next circle is your FAMILY. This includes people you are related to by blood and those friends who are close enough to be blood. These are the people who if they were any closer you would have to share the same skin. Not all relatives are found in the second circle, nor are all friends.
These are the people who know all your deepest secrets.
When you are trying to save the world, these are the people you think of first: Your parents, your spouse, your children, your siblings, & your closest friends
The decision between helping your second circle and someone else should be simple. This might mean cancelling a patrol because your child is sick. It might mean taking a few weeks off from RLSh activities because a parent is in the hospital. I might mean postponing something for an hour so you can go help your best friend when his junky old car leaves him stranded somewhere.
When you put these people first in your priorities, they will return the favor…And that helps YOU to be better able to do what it is that you do.
The third circle is two parts: 1) – your extended freinds and family & 2) Your neighborhood
These are people you have a bond with in some way. Distant relative, old friends, acquantances, former co-workers, and neighbors are people with whom you have a mild familiarity if not a strong relationship. However, this minor connection gives you an opening to be helpful to them.
Imagine an elderly person falls down in front of you. You rush to their aid, but they refuse and possibly become combattive because they don’t know you. I’ve had it happen to me.
Now imagine that same person falls, but someone else rushes up to them and offers to help…only this time its someone they know. “You’re Bob’s son?” The elderly person says as they are helped back to their feet.
The connection here allows you a little more freedom than a complete stranger.
The neighborhood is included in this because the connection between you and where you live is just as important. You live there and as a result you become familiar with things there. You know which cars belong and which ones do not. You know the people who live there. Its the easiest area to learn because you are always there.
It was this familiarity that led to my stopping a murder attempt last year…Hows that for IMPACT.
FOURTH CIRCLE AND BEYOND
The fourth circle would be the city and county in which you live. This is where you reach random people, but still have a familiarity with the area.
The fifth circle would be the counties surrounding you. These are areas you are less familiar with, but still close enough to make a difference occasionally
The sixth circle is your state…or a states sized area around where you reside. For example – a RLSH in Texarkana Arkansas would count parts of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma in his sixth circle. When you start spreading out into these areas you are going to be in areas that are sometimes familiar but often times not. This is an area where you will face more problems and have less ability to make a difference.
the seventh circle would be your nation – You still have some freedom to operate in your own country…Your influence here is probably not that great…and your efforts here are not going to gather results nearly as fast.
And the final circle – is the rest of the world. Extending yourself beyond the borders of your nation will stretch you to amazing lengths. Your impact on these areas will most likely not be very great. It will take a great deal of difficulty to make a difference at this level.
And there you have it…my thoughts on the Concentric Circles of Influence for an RLSH