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Personal Responsibility through Personal Initiative with Ed Brenegar

George Grombacher January 12, 2022

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Personal Responsibility through Personal Initiative with Ed Brenegar

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Personal Reponsibility through Personal Initiative with Ed Brenegar

LifeBlood: We talked about getting more personal responsibility through taking personal initiative, why we all have an idea of what we want but can benefit from a nudge, how the starting point is figuring out what you want your impactt to be, and how to get started with Ed Brenegar, Founder of Circle of Impact, speaker, author and leadership trainer

Listen to learn a simple thing you can do today to help someone in your community!

For the Difference Making Tip, scan ahead to 18:25.

You can learn more about Ed at, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Thanks, as always for listening!  If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and subscribe as well. 

You can learn more about us at, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Facebook or you’d like to be a guest on the show, contact George at

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About The Episode

GG Headshot 2021

George Grombacher


Ed Brenegan

About The Transcript

Come on

we like blood. This is George G. And the time is right welcome today’s guest strong and powerful Ed Brinegar. Ed, are you ready to do this?

Ed Brenegan 0:20
I’m ready, let’s go,

george grombacher 0:21
let’s let let’s go at is the founder of circle of impact. He’s a speaker and author and a leadership trainer. And tell us a little about your personal life a little, a little bit more about your work and why you do what you do?

Ed Brenegan 0:36
Well, I have been been doing a variety of different things within the leadership field since the middle of 1984. So a long time and found that I have a different look at the way leadership functions and it’s less about the institution more about the individual and, and how they live their lives and began my career as a Presbyterian minister. And but I found that I tend to work better outside of the most of the institutional structures is as a helping individuals figure out how to establish their own type of leadership and service to their communities. So I live in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, I have three grown children, no longer married and live by myself, but I travel a lot. I’m interested in people, extraordinarily interesting people very curious. And, and so I spent a lot of time traveling, so I can kind of look at where the where people are at the periphery of society rather than at the center. So I really have a grasp of the grassroots and, and I’m really supportive of people who are in the grassroots doing leadership, that is rising out of their own commitment to their communities.

george grombacher 1:55
Nice. So I appreciate that. It is a, it is a really unique time while or or it’s just like other times, but it’s it’s it’s the first time that I’m recognizing that, that we as a society seem to be really questioning lots of things. And I think it could be a good opportunity to be taking a step back and really thinking about this is what’s important to me. This is this is the impact I’m interested in having I think I can have. What are your thoughts on that?

Unknown Speaker 2:28
Well, I think that people have the sense that they’re in transition. And many of the things which they have depended on over the last half century list is there’s a date a timeframe, a half century, are no longer supporting them in the way that they used to. And that’s a very disorienting type of thing. It’s disorienting, because they have kind of invested a lot of their own sense of who they are their own sense of identity in these institutions, which no longer are working like they used to when they were supportive of him. So I think the transition that many people are going through is, is figuring out, Oh, who am I, when I’m not in the middle of the institution, in the middle of the workplaces that I work at, or the family that I’m a part of, or the community I’m in? So who am I as an individual? And I’m not really an individualist in the sense that I think that’s more than anything else at this. I think that’s an aspect of who we are as people. And what what I talk with people about is, what is it that a couple of questions, here’s a question, a couple of questions, I asked people. So if you could change anything, what is it that you would change? And if you could change that, what do you what does that look like? If you were to take the initiative to change that? What step would you take? And I’ve had people who have come to me, who have asked that very question, and they already have something in mind as to what is important to them. And I think what oftentimes they need is just someone who sees that in them and gives them the little nudge which says, I believe you can go do that. I believe you can you can make a difference that play in that way. And, and so that’s part of it. The second thing is that I find that people oftentimes have a hard time participating in things that they had not kind of by accident found themselves in that they choose to go participate in something. It may be another organization it may be. I have a I have a niece who got involved with Special Olympics, and I don’t remember exactly when that was or why she did it. But it was it was not one of these things where she was already in this world, no, she wasn’t she chose to go be a part of that. And it’s it’s been life defining for her and her contribution, there’s just, it’s just remarkable. I’m constantly looking to her as kind of an example to me of what a person of impact is. So that so the third kind of question I ask people is, what is the impact that you want to have on the world, and impact is simply, what different? What is the difference that matters that you want to make. And I find that a lot of people have feelings about this, but they haven’t thought it through. And that, they, they need to have some way of thinking it through. So they can start on the first step of taking some initiative to make that difference. And, and, and then from the first step comes the second and the third, and all of a sudden, their life has changed, because they’re now in a more of an active mode, rather than kind of passively receiving, back, whatever it is that the world is giving to them.

george grombacher 6:02
Nice. So, you think, do you think that that, that most people, when given the opportunity, or when they recognize their, the impact that they can have, that they will choose to, to be productive? And, and, and, and, and help?

Unknown Speaker 6:30
I think when they’re invited to do so, they will do that? Because that establishes a relationship with someone where meet meet them, there’s a meaning fullness to that, would you come in and help deliver food boxes at Thanksgiving to people who are needy? I mean, that sort of thing. There’s, there’s something meaningful about doing that. And when you invite someone to join you to do that. I think that’s why they will say, Oh, yes, I would like to do that, because they feel that’s meaningful. So that relationship has, I think, a lot to do with with getting people to take that first step.

george grombacher 7:08
Yeah, yeah, that’s an interesting thing. I mean, I, I had the hardest time and still struggle a little bit with the idea of letting things come to me, I was always the person who was just I see something and, and go and do it. And I’ve learned that I need to be a little bit more patient and wait to be invited, I think that that’s a great term for it. Are invites coming all the time? Or do I need to put myself in position to be invited? How does that work?

Unknown Speaker 7:41
I think you have to have some sense of what matters to you. Then when the invite comes, you say, Well, yeah, I can do that. Or no, that’s, that’s not really something I want to do. And I, you know, it’s it’s, there’s, this is not a linear sort of thing, doors, I think it’s, it’s a very circular thing. So if all of these things are kind of in a circle, you can enter at any point in this circle. But at some point, you have to go through those circles, I mean, you can start with the, with your own initiative, or you can start with an invitation, or you can start with, you know, some people in the office are going to go do something together, you know, we’re going to go out and have a social time. And we’re going to just feel be friends, you know, that’s another place that starts, I think the starting points can be any number of places. But where we want to end up is saying, Okay, that was really good, I want to do more, I wanted more of that, I want to be more engaged, I want to be more involved, I want to have a greater impact.

george grombacher 8:42
What a great way to think about that is is that it’s it’s not linear, it’s not this is the first step on on a very sequential, it’s quite the opposite. It’s it’s it’s getting involved in however that’s happening.

Unknown Speaker 8:56
But I think that’s hard for people because they’re used to the same things that they’re being taught things in a very linear fashion. So, you know, part of the part of the dilemma that we have the some of us who are in this kind of work, have is helping people in no step into the circle. That’s why I call it the circle of impact. Because wherever you enter the circle, the circle, my circle of impact model is a leadership is based on three dimensions of ideas, relationships, and structure. And you can enter in any one of those places, but the idea is that we need to elevate our thinking, our clarity, the clarity of our thought, we need to elevate the relationships, you know, building greater respect and trust. And we need to focus our structure on the impact we want to have, what is it our structure, what is our business doing? What is our, our school doing to create impact? And, you know, if we’re starting with the structure, we say, okay, what are the ideas that we Need to bring into this? And who are the other people that we need to bring into this so that we complete the circle? That’s that’s the kind of the idea. That’s, it’s simple. It’s simple. Um, when once you begin to start using it, it’s simple. Yeah, but because it’s not linear, it’s difficult. Yeah.

george grombacher 10:17
I think that that makes a lot of sense. Sure. And it strikes me that, that a lot of the things when we are just sort of going about life, that it can be overwhelming, when I’m reading about these terrible things happening on the news, that probably has has the opposite effect of getting me to take action, it probably caused me to be kind of pull in. And if I do want to have an impact, I do have that thing in my mind that you were talking about a little bit earlier. If I can just get invited into that be be kind of nudged that, that can you transition my potential energy to actual real energy? How do you think about like global versus local?

Unknown Speaker 11:06
I think that we, I think every crisis is a local crisis, played out on a global scale. And by that every one of us lives in a local community. I don’t care if you may live in New York, or you may live where I live in North Wilkesboro. It says, I mean, maybe 70,000 people in it, I don’t know, not very many. But the needs are the same wherever you are. So the the way I talk about this is act locally, and tell your story globally. Because your influence globally could be because you have done something locally that someone, say in the Ukraine, or in Colombia or in Viet Vietnam, they read your your story on Facebook or on LinkedIn or on a plot or hear you, you know, hear your podcast telling someone telling a story. And they say, you know, I can do that, we could do that here. That’s a great idea. And so all of a sudden, this little little local initiative becomes a globally influential initiative, because other people have picked up on it. And so that’s one of the things that I’ve, I’ve started, it’s in its fledgling mode, it started in the summer, I called a global, I do I call it a Global Impact Network. And it’s just people who want to connect with other people to talk about the things that matter. So I have, the first one I started was with some guys in Uganda. And they had, they were in different fields of work, but they had similar problems, which was how do we feed our people. And so they’re trying to figure out how to feed their people. And so they’re, they’re networked together to talk about this. And and what has emerged in that is that they are also talking about their own lives and their they become supportive of each other. Beyond just how do we go fi, you know, find food to feed the people that we are responsible for. So that it’s that sort of networking that I think begins to happen on a global scale where people can take local action?

george grombacher 13:16
Yeah, no, that’s incredible. global problems solve locally. Because odds are, we’re probably many human beings are probably experiencing the same sorts of feelings that I or you are feeling. So I think that that makes a lot of sense. Is this how I think that there’s a lot of people who are feeling lonely and disconnected right now and who want to get plugged into a local community, but just don’t know, don’t know how to enter that circle? And I know that that this is something that you’re potentially not that you’re experiencing loneliness, I know that you moved to this this new community about a year ago, how was your experience bad?

Unknown Speaker 13:59
Um, that’s a great question. I have it. Yes, I’ve experienced loneliness. But I also am very extroverted. So I, I don’t allow it to kind of capture me or imprison me my home. So I could spend a lot more time away from here, you know, going out and meeting people and that that’s going to emerge over time. But, uh, yeah, I think I think people feel a great sense of loneliness is one way of I think it’s a sense of alienation. I think they’re, they just don’t know where they fit into the world any longer. And so, this is why it comes back to a local thing, George. So so we’re what I would suggest to them is, what is it that you’re interested in that mat? That’s something that’s mattered to you something has happened to you that was a benefit to you. So find someone in your community who is doing that? And go say, I have a couple of hours every month, what, what? How can you use me? And, again, this goes back to some stuff that I did. I worked on I did some workshops on about a decade ago on the practice of gratitude. So this may be a plate this may be the a defining edge for people. So I became concerned that gratitude was primarily being focused on feeling good. And I felt like that was not very productive. So I, I came up with what I call the five actions for gratitude. And they are they’re simple. And they can be measured, I believe, and they are simply say, thanks. Give back. Make welcome. And when I say make welcome if you’re running an organization, and you have new people join, find a way to get them to take initiative and take some responsibility automatically, almost immediately. Okay, that’s the third make welcome. The fourth is honor others. And the fifth is creativeness. And so all five of those are actions that that can people can take, they can take initiative, to say thanks. And who is it that you’re going to say thanks to? Well, you have to think about the effect that other people have had or other institutions have had. And you say, I’m going to go say thanks in some way. But it needs to be meaningful to the individual and, and giving back is you go contribute to, you know, I’ve seen where there are people who have benefited, who have been given, say thumbs because they’re poor, or they’re, they’re destitute, or they’re in some kind of difficult circumstances, and organizations given to them. And they have come back and begin to, to serve with that organization, as a way of giving back to them for in gratitude for what they’ve done. So I think that’s a, this is one with one of those ways of turning the sense of AI. It’s all about me into how can I I express what I feel about other people or other situations by becoming more grateful.

george grombacher 17:20
I love it. Say thanks. Give back make welcome honor others in Korea, goodness, what a great framework. Beautiful.

Unknown Speaker 17:29
Yeah. And, and one of the things that I would talk to organizations about is, you could take these five things, and you could create a measuring system for your people, not that you’re going to, to evaluate them on their gratitude. But you’re going to give them the opportunity to say I did, you know, 2025 acts of saying thanks this this month. And and if they were to measure those things, people will keep track of the things they’ve done. All of a sudden, they would see that their whole mindset, their whole orientation, how they operate, would be much more focused on being grateful. And people would notice, and they would probably join them in practicing. That’s it.

george grombacher 18:16
Yeah, I love it. Well, Ed, that was an excellent one. But the people are ready for your difference making tip, what do you have for them?

Unknown Speaker 18:25
I think that, here’s what here’s what I believe you can go do right now you can do it today. There is someone that lives when you’re Street, who is lonely. And you need to figure out who that person is. Maybe an elderly person, it may be just someone who has never had friendships, go knock on their door and say hello, and just say, Hi, I’m Ed, I’m live. I’m your neighbor, and how you doing? You want to have a cup of coffee. Just establish some kind of rapport with someone that you can then see that their life has been changed by your own actions in their life.

george grombacher 19:06
Well, I think that that is great stuff that definitely gets Come on, come on. I think that that’s excellent right there, establish rapport and be able to see that that the action that you took has made somebody’s life a little bit better. I love it. But thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with you?

Unknown Speaker 19:28
Are two things one is they can find me at my website, which is Ed That’s EDB or they can email me at And I’m glad to talk with them, you know, in any way. And there are other things that come from all of that, but that’s that’s a good starting point. Good place to meet me.

george grombacher 19:55
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did show your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to Ed That’s Ed Shoot me an email and get in touch. Thanks. Good.

Unknown Speaker 20:15
Thank you joy. See, have a good day. You as well.

george grombacher 20:17
And until next time, keep fighting the good fight as we’re all in this together.

Transcribed by

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