Circles of Responsibility

In previous articles, I explained the power of taking responsibility (Responsibility, Leadership and Integrity in Challenging times, and Conscious Leadership). Responsibility, though can be a tricky concept to apply.

It can be easy to avoid taking responsibility (which gives our power to others or external circumstances), or on the opposite, to take too much responsibility (especially when we embrace a Creator mindset and therefore can be tempted to push through all the way no matter how challenging the circumstances).

Byron Katie explains that there are three areas of responsibility:

  • My Business
  • Your Business
  • God’s Business

My Business:

I can take 100% responsibility for my business. These are all the thoughts I have, feelings I feel and actions I take. The more I own them, the more I can become the “captain of my ship”. If I take less than 100% responsibility for this circle, I am disempowering myself (nobody has the power to disempower me).

Your Business is a circle completely outside of my responsibility, and therefore of my control. I can influence it, I can try to manipulate it, I can also try to control it. But the truth is that the most effective way to be free is to let go completely of trying to influence it. If I focus 100% on my circle, and let go of the outcome, that will give me inner peace, and paradoxically will tend to produce better outcomes for both of us.

For instance, the other day, I was spending time with my godson, who is 5 years old. At one point, he was sulking a little bit, and it was time to say goodbye as I would be leaving soon and we would not see each other for a long time. I told him:

“Hey, would you like to say goodbye now? It’s totally OK if you don’t, but you have to know that I will be leaving and we won’t see each other when you come back from school.”

At first, he was reluctant and stayed with his mother.

But then, he turned around and came to give me a sweet loving hug.

You can’t fool children.

In that moment, I had felt that the letting go on my part was what had given him the freedom to decide, and the space to come to me without being forced by anything. I felt like an opening “click” in my heart center, which was like unleashing his freedom by letting go of my attachments to the outcome.

In yoga, the practice of karma yoga (the yoga of action), consists in doing whatever we are doing by letting go of the outcome. Fred Kofman talks about it too as an attitude for conscious leaders in his book Conscious Business.

A piece of advice that can be helpful to stop being reactive to others can be one of the Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz:

“Don’t take things personally.”

No matter what they say, do, think, feel, it’s not about you. It’s their reaction.

God’s Business is also an area where we try to exert control sometimes. When I say “God’s Business”, I mean anything that is beyond our control. Feel free to replace “God” by The Universe, Nature, or anything that makes sense in your worldview.

God’s Business could also be referred to as “external circumstances”: the weather, world events, the pandemic, … The more we can try to resist the temptation of influencing and trying to control these events, the more peace in our lives.

Once we focus on our own circle of responsibility, we can try to be at peace with what is, and even, as Byron Katie would put it, to love what is.


Take a situation where you feel that there is entanglement with another person.

You can recognize such a situation because you are not sure what to do, and you feel that boundaries are not clear (you might feel confusion, resentment, even anger at yourself or the other person).

You can use this model to get a clear picture of where boundaries need to be set.

Here are questions for you. Answer them in writing for even more clarity:

Are you taking 100% of your responsibility?

Are you taking responsibility for what the other person says/feels/does?

Are you trying to take responsibility for God’s business?


What would it look like if you recentered yourself in your own circle of responsibility?

What do you need to do to make that happen?

What do you need to say?

What do you need to let go of?

How can you prevent that situation from occurring in the future?

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