Over the last year, I have had a number of disturbing conversations that have effectively ended a number of friendships. It has been a painful experience because I care about these people. I am finding that I am not the only one who has experienced the emotional melt-downs that lead to broken relationships. The problem is that I am not the one having the psychotic break. These meltdowns are an emotional break from reality.

If you were to talk to these friends of mine, I suspect they would tell you that I am responsible. I have been told that I am insane, that I believe in conspiracy theories, which I don’t, and that I am a danger to society, which I am not. I have had phone calls abruptly end in mid-sentence and people tell me that they don’t want to see me. In almost every case, a reasonable explanation of my views is not permitted. If you read this blog or read the books that I have written, you’ll understand my perspective. I want to make sense of the world. In doing so, it means we know how to act in it.

My point here is not to argue my perspective. Instead, I am more concerned with helping people discover their own minds. You don’t have to see things as I do. Hardly anyone does. It is important that you have clear reasons why you make the decisions that you do and take the actions that follow those decisions. You do need this for your own peace of mind. If in the process you find out that you made some decision based on faulty reasoning or inadequate information, you can say to yourself, “Okay. Glad to know that. Let’s fix this.

Here is a brief exercise as a place to start. I am asking you to create a few lists that represent things that matter to you. Each list can be viewed as a set of simple decisions that you are making. In doing so, you have begun to know you mind. We can do this in about ten minutes. Don’t take any more. If you feel like you need more help, then we can talk about that later.

Here are the five lists

Step One: The Five Lists

List One: What are you afraid of? Think broadly. What are you afraid of happening to you and your family? What are you afraid of losing? What are you afraid of if you discover that you have been wrong. Are you afraid of making a decision that you can’t recover from?

List Two: What do you value? Think broadly. It may be your family, or your grandfather’s sports car, or your business. Whatever you value, you will act to protect and preserve. What we value is the foundation of what we believe and desire for our lives.

List Three: Who are the five to ten most important people to you right now? Do they know that you feel this way? Think of it this way. Many people are losing loved ones through the effects of the pandemic. Your list should be of the people that you want to tell that you love them, that if for some horrible reason, they were to get sick and die within the next few days. If you need to apologize, do so. Mend those fences. Rebuild communication.

List Four: What do you want to start doing again? Is it traveling to a favorite vacation spot? Is it going to the movies or church? Is it playing team sports or going back to the office?

List Five: If you could snap your fingers, and in that split second something changed, what is it that you want changed. List only one thing. Don’t overthink it. Just one thing. You can have another one tomorrow.

Our five lists begin to construct an understanding of what matters to us. This is the first step in reaching peace of mind. Why is this? When you can say this matters to me, it does because it makes a difference in my life. This is especially true of the people who we care about and with our relationship is hurting.

Step Two: The Why Lists

Now, go through each list, and with as few words as possible, write down Why you wrote down the things on your lists. Here is the second set of Lists

List One: Why am I afraid?

List Two: Why do I value the things or people on my list?

List Three: Why these people?

List Four: Why these things?

List Five: Why this change?

When we know why these things matter, we begin to understand why others may find our values uncomfortable. You now know more about who you are than you did fifteen minutes ago.

In other words, you don’t need other people to agree with you to feel safe. You are safe because you know what is important to you and why.

I am now offering an introductory discovery process focused on these lists. Three sessions $350. Available during the month of October. Contact me at ed@edbrenegar.com.

Let’s fix these things.




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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