Beyond Concern

We’ve all heard about the Spheres of Concern, Influence, and Control concept. But for those that haven’t considered this idea before, these are meant to inform us as to what we can change or act on, what we have a voice in, and what we care about. These rings will contain a unique set of things for each and every person, team, organization, or collective. Understanding what your spheres contain, and what you want them to contain is a powerful tool to ensure that you spend your time on the things that matter to you.

Concentric rings from inside out: Spheres of control, influence, and concern.
Spheres of control, influence, and concern

Just as the sphere of influence can be subdivided into rings such as family, work, and community, we can also extend the metasphere to include more levels. What lies beyond the sphere of concern? It’s certainly not nothingness.

Concentric rings depicting sub-rings internal to the sphere of Influence, from inside out: Family, Work, Community.
Sub-rings of influence dimensions

Beyond Concern

If the sphere of control represents our innermost ring, then what lies beyond the sphere of concern?  Something or levels of somethings that are progressively wider in scope yet relevant to our environmental awareness. The following set of additional spheres are a continuation of the spheres beyond concern, making up the metasphere. They are, in order, the spheres of: knowledge, interest (learning), ignorance, and imagination.

Concentric rings depicting the Metasphere. From inside out: Control (red), Influence (peach), Concern (yellow), Knowledge (blue), Ignorance (black), Imagination (nebula).

Let’s dive a bit into each one, working our way from the inside out.

Sphere of Knowledge

This is all the stuff we know about, but not directly concerned with in any active kind of way. For example, you may know the names of various constellations, but as a non-astronomer, understanding what’s going on in those constellations is not something you’d be actively working on.

The sphere of knowledge is an important feeder into the more inner spheres as it informs our thinking for the things that we do care actively about and might even have the ability to act on directly.  Say for example you find yourself charged with planning for a digital transformation for your area. While you’ve read about what these are, how to do them, and what makes them successful or failed programs, you’ve never led one before. The ability to draw on this external knowledge to inform how you think about the transformation and what influence you want to bring to the table is crucial to a successful outcome for you and your team.

Sphere of Interest (Learning)

But what if you hadn’t read all about digital transformations? You’ve heard of it and understand the concept but now you need to acquire some external knowledge on the topic. Digital transformation just entered your sphere of interest, it would be a prudent time to start learning about the dynamics, best practices, and tools available to create successful digital transformations.

A sphere of interest can hold many, many topics. Naturally curious people will have outsized spheres of interest that expand whenever something interesting presents itself. Other folks will have more proportional spheres of interest and may find that new things are added to it primarily by external factors, such as a new assignment.

Sphere of Ignorance

Then there are things we don’t even know that are candidates for consideration. This is our sphere of ignorance. As a species and as individuals, this sphere is vast and unknowable. This is where discoveries arise from, bubbling into our awareness and either being plucked into the sphere of interest, or discarded back into willful ignorance.

Building on our digital transformation example, perhaps our reading is a couple of years out of date or sourced somewhat narrowly and as a result, we learned about the kinds of technology changes that need to happen, but didn’t know that the organizational dynamics and culture need to be actively shepherded as part of the transformation effort. The sphere of ignorance isn’t just things we know we don’t understand, in fact, it is primarily made of up things we don’t even know are a thing.

Sphere of Imagination

Our last sphere is boundless. It sits outside the sphere of ignorance, beyond the realm of the unknown. Here is where anything is possible, where things like fusion-powered interplanetary starships are born, or more mundanely, self-driving electric vehicles. I think it safe to say that these ideas are born in exception to what is already knowable. Bringing them to life is a journey through the metasphere.

Cultivate Your Metaverse

Everyone has a unique metaverse, there is no right or wrong configuration for your metaverse, only whether your metaverse is expressed in alignment with your goals. The spheres metaphor has unfortunately often been used to inform someone of their limitations. Instead, I invite you to think about what’s in your different spheres today. Ask yourself what you’d like to be in them that is not, what is in them that you don’t want. From here, you can proactively pursue your ideal metaverse with intention.

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