How Do You Expand Your Circle Of Influence?

Do you want to expand the amount of influence you have, in general, within a particular role you fill, or dealing with a new-found interest?

You may want to advance in your job or career (e.g., putting yourself on a path to becoming a supervisor). Or, maybe there’s a cause you want to contribute to, but you want to go beyond giving money or volunteering now and then (e.g., you may want to serve on a non-profit’s board). On a more personal level, you may want to increase your sway within your family (e.g., because you see important familial decisions are on the horizon).

You need more than a desire to accomplish something to improve your circle of influence. It would help if you also went beyond setting a goal.

Expanding your capacity for influence requires a plan or a process focused on achieving your desired outcome. The late self-improvement author and public speaker Stephen R. Covey encouraged people to define the circle of their concerns and then, within that circle, honestly assess their circle of influence.

Most people (those who aren’t wealthy, well-connected, or possess a high amount of privilege) often have more concerns than they have a realistic ability to impact. That said, individuals also have more power, skills, or talents than they give themselves credit for.

Covey noted that people who put positive, proactive energy into things they can impact—within their circle of influence—not only get more things done, but they also likely can expand their circle of influence. (The reverse is true for those who are simply reactive to what the world throws at them.)

So, how can you expand your circle of influence? Do you have a plan or process for accomplishing your goal? Is the plan focused on things you can realistically impact?

Related questions: How have your parents influenced you? What impact do you think you have on other people? What are our responsibilities to others?

What Do You Find Awe-Inducing?

Louis Armstrong’s gravelly yet beautiful voice blessed a tune that recounts the beauty of earth-bound nature and the sacredness of the nighttime sky. The song is filled with awe, and includes some lines about babies who will grow and learn more than he’d ever know. And so, Louis “thought to [himself], what a wonderful world.”
Sometimes, we find it difficult to escape our rushed and patterned lives to witness the awe that surrounds us. But once in a while–heck, as often as you can–you would be wise to look around you and find reason to see that we live in a wonderful world.
As for me, one of the most magical things I see comes after a dandelion seed finds a crack in the cement and grows impressive roots and an above-ground stem and flower that some hate but others love. If you dislike dandelions, did you know that all parts of a dandelion are edible? The plant is a good source of vitamins A, C, K, and D, along with calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. How awesome is that! I am similarly amazed that a tiny cottonwood seed created the mammoth tree in my neighbor’s backyard.
Music also fascinates me. When experiencing the Sunday Scaries, I often don my headphones, open my music app, and randomize play from my 1,171 top-rated songs. While it’s cliché, music transports me to another place. It doesn’t matter the mood or subject of the tunes my app picks; I end the night in a better place than before notes hit my eardrums. There’s a scientific answer to this transportation: our brains release dopamine, a happiness-inducing chemical, when we listen to tunes. How lucky are we to have music in this world of ours!
I could go on with the things in the universe that captivate me. But I’d prefer to read your answers.
What do you find awe-inducing?

How Do You Find Peace When You Need It?

In an increasingly fast-paced world where we are constantly surrounded by an uncountable number of distractions, it would help our minds to find peace and calm. But how?

Our phones light up, ding, and send us messages constantly. Cable news channels quickly scroll one scoop after another while talking heads yell more than report. Personal and work emails demand immediate attention, or else they’ll clog up our mailboxes. And our competitive ways plague adults and children alike.

But these issues are mundane when compared to other matters. For instance, today’s children practice active shooter drills.  And we’re living on a planet that’s becoming less hospitable with every passing year.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘Are we too busy?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’


We live in a high-stress world, and thus, many of us are highly-stressed people. While anyone, at any age, may excusably be on edge, others experience diagnosable anxiety. Nearly one-fifth of the population suffers from this mood disorder each year, and roughly a third will experience it in their lifetime.

It would do us a world of good to experience peace. So, what do you do to escape it all?

Do you meditate or practice yoga? Do you find peace in a place of worship? Perhaps a nature hike calms you down. Or listening to music relaxes your mind and body. Possibly, like me, you head out to your garden to weed or just take in your surroundings.

How do you find peace when you need it?

Related questions: What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Peace or discomfort? How do you perform self-care? Is our attention fractured?

Climate Change: How Would You Act If Your House Was On Fire?

For decades humans have known that we are driving climate change.  And for most of that time, it’s been clear that unless we change our ways, the planet may become largely, if not wholly, inhospitable to humans as well as many other plants and animals.

The experts tell us that we’ve reached a tipping point.  We cannot reverse climate change any longer.  The best we can hope for is to stop the progress and mitigate the damages we’ve already wrought — the impacts we see now as well as those that are already in motion due to current actions.

Concretely, the United Nations warns us that we will experience hotter temperatures, more severe storms, increased droughts, rising ocean levels, loss of species, not enough food, increased health risks, and increased poverty and displacement.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘What are you willing to sacrifice?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What do you believe?’


Our house is on fire.

It’s been burning for quite some time.  But the fire, until fairly recently, progressed slowly.  Not so any longer.  The pace of climate change has been increasing.  And every year, it seems we need to recalculate the rate of change to faster still.   To stop the progress and mitigate the damages will require immediate changes to the world, national, and local economies; more sustainable agriculture practices; assistance to struggling regions of the world already seeing life-threatening impacts; sustainable technologies (old and new), and dramatic changes to our personal lives.

While some advocate for the necessary immediate changes, the dominant view appears to be kicking the can down the road. We convince ourselves that new technologies will save us or that younger generations will take this seriously and enact needed changes. So, we’re either pinning ourselves to shallow hope or acknowledging that the pains of change are not ones we will initiate.

We should expect more of ourselves.  How would you act if your house was on fire?  Because it is.

Related questions: How is climate change impacting you? What is keeping us from sustaining the planet? What is the greatest problem facing humanity?

Can We End Poverty?

While poverty is a subjective term, it is a fact that, right now, not the marketplace, public policy, nor charitable giving consistently covers the necessities that so many people in this country desperately need. Millions must choose between healthy food, adequate housing, reliable health insurance, quality childcare, and many other essentials because their job doesn’t pay a living wage, or they cannot work for various justifiable reasons.

Meanwhile, many of the wealthiest Americans pay no income tax and do an outstanding job of converting taxable income into protected wealth, playing a massive role in keeping America’s public coffers without the resources to address this situation, along with other needs. Similarly, tax loopholes allow U. S. companies to create “headquarters” in other (low-tax) counties to escape paying their fair share in this country.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘Are we too busy?’


From a different perspective, many well-intentioned people point to various religious texts that say, in effect, the poor will always be with us. But there is theological debate over whether this means there will always be poor people or, coming at it from a completely different angle, advising those with means to have an affinity or allegiance with those of extremely limited resources over the “needs” of those who either do all right or, more to the point, have considerable resources that could help meet more needs in this country.

On the political front, many wonder if anybody is worth enough to be a billionaire. Did you know that there are 614 billionaires? The wealthiest 400, in fact, hold $3.2 trillion in assets. A slice of those resources could go a long way toward meeting the needs of our poorest neighbors.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, when those in government decide to help the poor, our existing programs do a pretty good job at alleviating their immediate needs?

Can we end poverty? Should we at least give it a try?

Related questions: What is the greatest problem facing humanity? How will the economy be impacted by COVID-19? What is the purpose of money? How do we turn ideas into actions?