Leading Through Scary Season – Part 2 – Hit the Bullseye

Since I wrote last week, Scary Season has gotten even scarier, with the fires and horrific air quality in the Bay Area. Today, one impactful idea, based on one of Stephen Covey’s best lessons from his timeless classic 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. 

Covey’s first habit is “be proactive.” Within it, he illustrates it:

Covey says we gain power, effectiveness, and I would add a strong sense of agency, as we move from our circle of concerns (Covid, climate, BLM, Trump/Biden, our democracy, our economy) to our circle of influence.  So, I’ve been thinking about where I’m spending my time and energy, in accordance with what Covey writes:

“Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence.  They work on the things they can do something about.  The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.”    Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, p. 83

Perhaps the best thing you can do – both for you and for the issue(s) about which you have concern – is to shift your attention and your energy into that inner circle.  Here are three examples of how I’m making this move in: 

Issue of Concern Actions and impact of reactive Concern Actions and impact of moving into Influence 
Trump scares me (maybe Biden scares you)

Actions: worry, complain, rant, read and watch only those who confirm my views and my fears, blame others.

Impact: such behaviors make me feel powerless, likely convince no one, and cause me to lose the power/energy I have. 



  • Order my ballot
  • Make contribution(s)
  • Be a poll-worker or election observer
  • Phone bank to Get Out the Vote
  • Support local/state candidates who I believe will strengthen our democracy 

Impact: A sense of agency, doing what I can do. 

Fires in the West scare me See above


  • Make a plan!
  • Cut my energy use.
  • Learn and teach about it.
  • Write my gov.
  • Write my CEO.
#BLM saddens and angers me See above


  • Diversify my syllabus.
  • Be proactive in making my class safe.
  • Read/listen to Black Voices (do BLMatter to me?)
  • Put up a sign.
  • Write to my police chief, mayor, etc.  

How can you concentrate on your inner Circle of Influence to feel like you have agency and spend your energy where it makes a difference, and thus make the season a little less Scary?

Lead with your best self!


  • One element of the circle of influence is to realize we have influence in ways we may not have considered. Yet.

    When we feel stuck it can take some thinking, breathing and possibly talking to others before we crack through the shell that says we have no influence.

    I just finished writing my 100th postcard to voters to encourage them to make plans for voting including arranging for a vote by mail or absentee ballot.

    Thanks Dan and safety and good health to everyone.

  • Well stated, as always, Dan.
    I guess I’m going to have to read Steven Covey’s book again…
    It’s staring at me from my bookshelf right across from my desk, along with” First Things First”.
    Stay well.

  • Hi Dan,
    As much as we know this, seeing it in print is powerful. It’s easy to be paralyzed by the sheer size of the circle of concern (and there is SO much with which to be concerned right now!), much easier to think about and move to action within the circle of influence. “What CAN I do?”

  • Rudy Giuliani’s book “Leadership” published in 2002 is another excellent source. I also feel privileged to have taken a course with Covey while in the federal executive service.

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