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?

Are Routines Boring?

By their very nature, routines tend to repeat the same things over and over, usually without much variation. Does that make them boring?

We all develop routines in our lives. This is because they can be useful to us in a number of different ways.

First off, they can help conserve mental energy. For instance, once you define a morning ritual and perform it a few times, you don’t have to think about it too much. Your brain can go on autopilot while you brush your teeth, get dressed, make your regular breakfast, and so on.

Another benefit comes about from developing useful or healthy habits. If you want to get in shape, say, then always exercising at the same time of day or on the same days of the week can help create a habit. Once the habit is created, it is easier to maintain the lifestyle you want.

Routines can also help you in your interactions with others. Your boss will like it if you regularly get to work at the same time each day. Your spouse appreciates a predictable schedule when they need to reach you or when planning out the week.

These are all ways behaving with some consistency can help you. However, even if it is beneficial, is it boring?

If the goal is to repeat the same actions and behaviors over and over, that would seem to be boring. There would likely be a corresponding decrease in spontaneity. There is a small distance between a routine and a rut.

But is that truly the case? How can you avoid boredom while maintaining consistency? Do you even care if you are boring, if you are doing what you find meaningful?

Related questions: What is one thing you feel the need to do every day? Do you have morning rituals? Variety or consistency?


How Do We Prepare For The Next Pandemic?

As we mark the fourth year since the COVID-19 virus upended our lives, it seems appropriate to ask: are we better prepared for a pandemic now than we were in early 2020? What lessons did we learn, and how can we be prepared for the next one?

With the benefit of hindsight, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic was remarkable. Yes, in the early days there was a lot of confusion and conflicting information. No doubt, there was trauma that still persists to this day.

Of course, that is unavoidable with something that spread so quickly and proved so deadly. However, the speed at which the scientific community determined how the virus was spread was remarkable. Even more remarkable was how quickly an effective vaccine was created and distributed.

While much remains unknown, one thing that is certain is that this pandemic will not be the last one we will experience. Over the last century, we have seen multiple pandemics, from the Spanish Flu about 100 years ago, to AIDS/HIV, to COVID-19 (and others as well). It seems likely that climate change will increase the likelihood of new infections. There is also the potential for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

With that in mind, it makes sense for us to be prepared for the next outbreak. What did you, personally, learn from the experience with COVID-19? What did our local, state, and federal governments learn? The international community?

Pandemic fatigue is real, and it effects us all, to varying extents. However, the next outbreak is a matter of when and not if, so it makes sense to think about what we can do to be ready when it does eventually happen.

Related questions: COVID-19? How do you want this to change you? How do you evaluate risk? Will technology save us?