Have you ever prepared to cross a street, and there at the curb is a big, deep puddle? You don’t want to step in it. So, you look for a way around, or you try to decide if you can jump across it. I believe this is where many of us are right now. We are stuck trying to figure out a way around the complexity of a global coronavirus pandemic, the swings of political ideology upon our lives, and what the future holds for you, your family, your business, the organizations you contribute to, and your community as your home.

Four years ago as I was preparing to publish Circle of Impact: Taking Personal Initiative To Ignite Change, I put together a set of five guiding principles that I felt were a simple summary of the book. Over the past several months, I realized that the time for a refresh of the principles was needed. Several new things had begun, and I needed to reflect it a revised Guiding Principles of the Circle of Impact.




1.  ALL Leadership Begins with Personal Initiative to Create Impact.


2.  We are ALL in Transition. Every one of us. ALL the time.


3.  Impact is the Change that Makes a Difference that Matters.


4.  Impact Expands through Networks of Relationships.


5.  Start Small. Act Locally. Share Globally. Take the Long View.

Let me describe why each principle matters to how live and be persons of impact.


1.  ALL Leadership Begins with Personal Initiative to Create Impact.

The core belief of the Circle of Impact is that leadership is a behavior, a function of how we interact with the world directly in front of us. When we take personal initiative we are acting intentionally about something that matters to us. Our acts of initiative are born out of the values that we want to be at the center of our lives. So, when we lead, we create. We start a process that produces an impact that we want to see come to pass.


2.  We are ALL in Transition. Every one of us. ALL the time.

Transition is always a change. But change is not always a transition. Transition is a movement in a particular direction. What direction are you moving towards or are moving away from something today? If you don’t know, how to determine the direction you are headed? Ask a simple question.

Looking back, when was it that you first realized that you were in transition? The best you can pinpoint that moment. What has happened since then that reinforces the sense that you are in transition? You may not be able to articulate what you have experienced. All you might be able to say is that “I feel that I am in transition.”

Acknowledging that you are in transition is an important step. It opens our minds to new possibilities. New opportunities may be being offered to you. The first step is awareness that you are in a transition.

One cautionary thought because I have experienced this myself. Somethings this sense of transition causes one to want to leave a place or a job or a relationship. There is a sense of wanting to flee or escape. When we feel this, we are in transition. It is important that you as quickly as you can reverse the direction of the transition from leaving to going. This process I call Impact Day and it is designed to help us see where to go. Transition towards the next thing rather than from the thing that is no longer working for us.

3.  Impact is the Change that Makes a Difference that Matters.

We all have things we must do. They are tasks that must be done. I just finished cleaning my kitchen. It is a task that must be done. However, the task is transformed when I ask what is the impact that I want to have with a clean kitchen. It becomes a place that I can invite people into to share in cooking a meal. The impact is a change that makes a difference that matters.

When we ask about our work, “What difference does it make?”, we actually might realize that it doesn’t really matter. It is something that must be done, like cleaning the kitchen. However, we have it within ourselves to change our perspective and seek to identify how I can turn these tasks into actions that create impact.

In a conversation that I had with a client a year ago, we talked about being able to “make her no a yes.” By this I meant that she could say no to doing that that had no real purpose or value by affirming some value did. I wrote about this in my short book “May Your No Be A Yes: A Guide To Making Better Decisions.” It becomes easier to say no to the things that we need to say no to and yes to things that we need to say yes to when we are asking the question, “What is the impact that I want to see happen here.” With an impact focus, our lives become simpler. And we get use to making all our no’s and affirmation of the yes’s that matter to us.


4.  Impact Expands through Networks of Relationships.

There is a proverb that says,

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

This is a simple way to understand that when we create networks of relationships, we have the opportunity to expand the reach of our impact. In doing so, we should establish relationships of respect, trust, and mutual accountability. We can have relationships because we share values in common that help us focus on the impact that we can have together.

It is for this purpose that I created the Global Impact Network. Actually, it is a network of networks. The purpose is to connect people together in their local communities for shared impact in areas of common concern. It is the first step in creating a culture of impact in a community.


5.  Start Small. Act Locally. Share Globally. Take the Long View.

This principle is about the expectations that we find to our lives in transition as we become persons of impact. I often find people get excited by a big idea of the impact that they want to have. This principle is about being realistic as the process unfolds. It is sort of like reading a really long novel. It takes time, patience, and consistency in being attentive to the tasks involved. Here is why I say Start Small, Act Locally, Share Globally, and Take the Long View.

To start small means that you are learning what it takes to succeed. You are not getting ahead of yourself because you will find as you begin that what you thought was your direction and goal may well change, and usually does. Start small and growth will come when the time is right.

To act locally means that your acts of personal initiative have a direct impact upon people with whom you can know personally. Direct impact helps you see what works and what doesn’t. A lot of what we see today is people talking about a lot of things, but not really demonstrating that they have had any impact at all. This is why it is a good idea to focus on the needs and opportunities where you live and work.

To share globally means that your story of local impact can signal to someone elsewhere what is possible when they take personal initiative to create an impact as you have. This is another reason why I created the Global Impact Network. I learn things through the people I know around the world. I then pass along their wisdom and experience to people I know elsewhere.

To take the long view means you are not investing a lot of emotion is trying to be perfect or to excel beyond what you are capable of at this moment. Your potential for impact grows as you learn how to create impact. Over the long term, you will see things happen to you that today you would have never imagined is possible.

If you are in transition or you are stuck at the crosswalk wondering which way to turn or whether to jump, let’s talk. I’ll make it worth the time and investment to do so.

Dr. Ed Brenegar is a Leader for Leaders working with individuals, their teams, organizations and communities who find themselves at a point of transition. Ed has developed an innovative leadership model called, Circle of Impact, that clarifies what the impact of their life or the work of their organization can be. From this perspective, impact is the change that makes a difference that matters. Ed. for over 30 years, has inspired and equipped people and organizations to practice this fresh understanding of leadership. All leadership begins with personal initiative to create impact that makes a difference that matters. Everyone within an organization or a community can, therefore, practice leadership initiative. In so doing, they turn what were once leadership-starved organizations into leader-rich cultures that make a difference that matters.

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