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?

How Can We Make The Internet A Better Place?

While the Internet has many good features, it is also a place filled with people behaving badly. How can we make it better?

The Internet is amazing. We carry in our pocket a portal to most of our species’ accumulated knowledge, as well as a way to communicate with people from around the world in real time.

However, there are times when the Internet is not a good place to be.

While social interaction might be good in theory, in many cases, online behavior can be shockingly negative. People can be insulting, dismissive, and just generally rude. Some share personal information like addresses, pictures, or videos not meant for public consumption. The comments section in online newspapers, message boards, and social media sites can be toxic.

There is also the threat of scammers, people looking for any opportunity to steal your money and/or identity, or to infect your computer with viruses. You have to be hyper-vigilant about what links you follow, in emails or on websites.

There are also programmed ‘bots that pretend to be individuals. These can be created and run by agents of foreign governments, who are looking to spread misinformation and sow distrust and division in everyday life.

On top of that, there are companies that collect our personal information, which then can be sold to someone who might use it to try and manipulate us.

With all of these bad actors, the Internet can provide an unpleasant experience.

However, there are some places on the web that aren’t like this. Those sites provide a much better overall experience, and might even fulfill some of the potential for positive change that the Internet offers.

How might we make more places like this? Can we curb the trolls and scammers, and encourage collaboration and creativity? How can we make the Internet a better place?

Related questions: How can you be more responsible online? Why does social media often bring out the worst in us? How can we encourage meaningful conversation?

How Can You Be More Responsible Online?

These days, we all live a significant amount of our lives online. That naturally raises the question: how can we be responsible in our online lives?

Despite the fact that we have steadily increased the amount of time we spend online, not much good has come of it.

On a personal basis, the promise of the internet was to bring people together, even if separated by thousands of miles. While that happens, an increasing percentage of users feel more lonely and isolated than ever before. It is also true that it is remarkably easy to have your identity stolen.

Things aren’t much better on a societal level, either. On the plus side, anyone with an internet connection has access to a remarkable amount of information. Unfortunately, there is also more misinformation available as well. Rumors, lies, and conspiracy theories spread more quickly online than does the truth.

So what can we do about it?

One thing is for each of us to be more responsible in our online lives. This responsibility extends to how we protect our own information, how we behave to other online users, and what information we consume and share with others.

What, specifically, do you do to guard your personal information? What do you do to see someone as an individual when all they are to you is pixels on a screen? And how do you make sure you are not falling prey to hoaxes and lies that you might encounter on your internet travels?

Related questions: Can an internet friend be a true companion? Why does social media often bring out the worst in us? Are you addicted to your phone? What is your bubble?

What Are Your Vices?

Knowing the challenges and obstacles you face is necessary for preparing yourself to face them. With that in mind, what are your vices?

While the classic seven deadly sins — greed, envy, sloth, pride, gluttony, lust, and wrath — are a good place to start in considering potential vices, it is far from an exhaustive list.

And it is not even clear that they are all vices. Why shouldn’t I be proud, say, of a hard-won accomplishment? And just what is sloth, anyway?

This is not, however, to discount from legitimate vices. There are certain behaviors and habits that can be quite destructive in any number of ways. If you find you can’t resist some habitual behavior — playing video games at the expense of everything else, for example, or drinking to excess, or gambling money you can’t afford to lose — that could be the sign of a problem.

With some amount of introspection, you can probably think of some parts of your life that you wish you could change. It might be as simple as being habitually late, or as complex as addictive behavior.

One thing to avoid, however, is letting others define your vices for you. What someone else thinks of as a vice might turn out to be a virtue for you, in the end. If you feel strongly that something is right for you even though others disagree, it may not, indeed, be a real vice.

In the end, it is important to understand and be realistic about yourself, including both your good and bad points. Knowing certain activities lead you to bad decisions can help you avoid those activities. It might be uncomfortable, at times, but probing and defining your own weaknesses can ultimately make you stronger.

Related questions: What is your weakness? When is it useful to fail? What do you do that you shouldn’t? What is uncomfortable but rewarding?