Ed Brenegar | Leadership is Impact | Midlife Fulfilled Podcast

Ep 184 The Intersection of Leadership, Legacy, Impact and Fulfillment

Self-awareness is being intentional about the impact we want to have on others as the foundation for effective leadership.

On episode 184 you’ll meet Ed Brenegar, a leadership thought leader having spent forty years as a leadership consultant, coach, mentor, trainer, speaker, college program founder, writer, and podcaster.

Here are three key discussion points from our conversation:

1️⃣ Personal Initiative in Leadership: Ed highlights how all leadership begins with a personal initiative to create impact that makes a difference, emphasizing how everyone has the potential to be a leader.

2️⃣ Midlife Transition and Purpose: Ed describes midlife as a point of transition where individuals beginning in our forties often reevaluate and seek to define what we want the rest of our lives to be about, considering our legacy and the impact we want to have.

3️⃣ The Power of Self-Awareness: We discuss the importance of self-awareness in seeking clarity of purpose and making intentional decisions about the impact we want to have on others as we go through different seasons of life.

My main takeaway is the importance of self-awareness in being intentional about the impact we want to have on others, and the significance of recognizing personal initiative as the foundation for effective leadership. Remember that leadership is not limited to a title.

As you listen to episode 184 the challenge I offer you is to be intentional about self-awareness and the impact you want to have. Embrace the potential for personal initiative in every aspect of your life, from your career to relationships and to your legacy.


👏 Get my Five Pillars of Fulfillment Scorecard 👏 

My affiliate link to Castmagic, the AI tool I used to help produce these show notes.

Ed Brenegar – Circle of Impact Leadership – https://edbrenegar.com
The Future of Leadership with Ed Brenegar –
The Eddy Network Podcast on YouTube –
First Conversations on YouTube –
Ed’s books –
Linkedin –
Instagram –
Facebook –

Music attribution:
Old Bossa Twin Musicom

Midlife Fulfilled Survey In Cooperation with Udemy

Episode Transcript

Bernie Borges [00:00:00]:
Ed Breininger, welcome to the Midlife Fulfill podcast, a maximum episode.

Ed Brenegar [00:00:06]:
Thank you. Glad to be

Bernie Borges [00:00:08]:
here. Glad to have you. Glad to have you, Ed. It’s always, it’s always a pleasure to chat with you. Ed, we’re gonna talk about leadership. You are a leadership thought leader. You’ve spent the better part of the last 40 years as a leadership consultant, a coach, a mentor, a trainer, a speaker, a college program founder, a writer, and, of course, a podcaster. You’ve authored 8 books, including Circle of Impact.

Bernie Borges [00:00:37]:
For those that are watching on video, you can see it in your background. So we’ll talk about that, I’m sure. And you also write The Future of Leadership with Ed Breininger as a newsletter on new on Substack. And you’re the founder of the Global Impact Network, And you’re hosting the Eddie Network podcast, Global Conversations for Local Leaders. I had the privilege of being on your podcast back in April. Enjoyed that very much. So, Ed, let’s get right to it. You say that leadership is about legacy.

Bernie Borges [00:01:08]:
Legacy is about impact on people, and you define impact as a change that makes a difference that matters. What do you mean by that?

Ed Brenegar [00:01:17]:
Well, I see leadership as a function of how we live as human beings. I I push away from the idea that it’s simply a role or a title in an organization. So if it is if it’s something that we do as human beings, and more accurate definition would be all leadership begins with personal initiative to create impact that makes a difference that matters. So when we’re doing that, we’re actually creating some kind of change. And if we’re really are serious about this or really clear in our minds about what we’re doing, We really are looking at how this is affecting people, both the individual that we may be in a relationship with, but also the people who work in a business or live in a community. We can we can have a a sense of our of our lives making a difference for all of those if we decide that being a leader is is really beginning with our own initiative to, make a difference that matters.

Bernie Borges [00:02:18]:
Do you think given the fact that you’re defining leadership as something that is not limited to the workplace, It’s not just like you said, it’s not just a title.

Ed Brenegar [00:02:29]:

Bernie Borges [00:02:29]:
Do you think that everybody, to some extent, is a leader in some way?

Ed Brenegar [00:02:34]:
Everyone has the potential to be a leader. It comes back to them deciding to do this. This is a choice that we make, And many people do not make this choice. They simply kinda go with the flow, and they do what is expected of them. So I’m really I’m really talking about becoming a person who we decide that we want to go do something, and that typically is because of some value that has become important to us. And we’re gonna do something to validate the value, to to bring that value into the public domain where we really are making a difference because that value has touched our lives. And now it’s gonna touch the lives of other people because of our actions.

Bernie Borges [00:03:17]:
So in your experience, Ed, as we look at the demographics of the Midlife Fulfill podcast, the listening audience, right Mhmm. Generally speaking, very loosely defined, it’s people over the age of 40 and whatever decade that that puts people in. In your career research as as well as just observation, how has leadership impacted people over the age of 40 as we go through these different decades and we have different experiences, not just in the workplace, but in our family lives and in our local community environments, church, etcetera. Right? What’s the role of leadership as we age?

Ed Brenegar [00:03:57]:
Well, here’s what I I found, Bernie. And it’s really and I didn’t know that I was gonna see this. I didn’t go seeking for this. It just kind of emerged or appeared to me. And and that is that, you know, we go through we go through childhood, then, you know, if we go to college, we go to college, we get a degree, and we get a job. And in that job, we may be doing something that we’re talented, maybe something that we learned to do while we were in college, something we think we learned. And then at some point, we begin to realize that there’s more to our lives than what we have been doing. And what I have found is that this typically happens when you are in your forties.

Ed Brenegar [00:04:37]:
The number of people that I’ve talked to who are at are at a point of transition, that’s the way I that’s the language I use, they’re at a point of transition, who are in their forties is is significant. It’s almost an archetype of transition or change in human life that we could look at the forties decade of people’s lives and say, here is a point in time where things change, and what what is changing is I’m deciding what I want the rest of my life to be about. Mhmm. And in deciding what the rest of my life is to be about, it really is what do I want my legacy to be? And so it’s almost as I mean, for my own life, I realize that I’ve made several of these junctures. I’ve gone through several of these changes. And when I was in my forties, in my early forties, I left doing institutional work of working first in a college and then before that as a as a minister. And I I started my own business. I started a consulting business in I was in my early forties.

Ed Brenegar [00:05:43]:
And and that didn’t occur to me that this is something I wanna do for the legacy, but it just said I need to go out and do this on my own. I need to do something different. And my experience has kind of said to me, you have things that you can do that you don’t know that you can do. And I just felt I felt very convinced that my my work was to be focused on developing leaders and particularly leaders who will, be able to strengthen their families and their local communities in ways that, are significant in in what we would call an impact way. And so that’s what happened to me, I guess, let’s, shall we say, 30 years ago. And I’m looking back at that and saying, well, that was the right decision for me. And it doesn’t mean that my chain life of change didn’t end then. I mean, there’s all kinds of changes that still came, but the commitment to to being a person who is is helping people take care of their local communities has really been kind of the the hallmark or the focal point of a lot of the things that I’ve done during this time.

Bernie Borges [00:06:50]:
It’s interesting, Ed, because I have talked before on the podcast about this concept called the conscious competent. It’s a concept that I became aware of a few decades ago. And, basically, what I’m hearing you say is that you were an unconscious competent. You did not realize that you had these gifts and talents that you could apply in helping other people in their fitness, consulting, that sort of thing. And then you eventually I don’t know if it was a sudden thing, but at some point, you did realize it, and then you were a conscious competent. It sounds to me, Ed, like once you became a conscious competent, you realized that you were able to do what you were capable of doing, then it kinda kicked into high gear for you is kinda what I heard from you, Ed. Is that right?

Ed Brenegar [00:07:40]:
Yeah. Well, that’s that’s certainly true. And I realized that I had been working for people, you know, as a subordinate for all my career in one way or another, and it was time for me to step forward and and be my own boss, so to speak. And so what I did, I became a consultant. I started a business. I’d never been a consultant before. I’d never run a business before, but I was gonna figure out how to make it work. And that’s what happened.

Bernie Borges [00:08:08]:
Okay. So then, again, keeping with the the leadership theme of this conversation, you know, you mentioned that for a lot of us, we begin to think about, you know, how do we wanna impact people when we get into our forties? And I would agree with you on that. So as people are experiencing that mindset, especially around the legacy pillars, you know I have the 5 pillars of midlife. Right?

Ed Brenegar [00:08:33]:

Bernie Borges [00:08:34]:
Health health, fitness, career, relationships, and legacy. Legacy being the the 5th pillar, and I think the one that is sort of the ultimate, sort of like, you know, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs of self actualization, you know, its legacy. So are you seeing people embrace the concept of leadership as they think about their legacy, or, you know, what are you seeing around that?

Ed Brenegar [00:08:55]:
I see people surprised by their own sense of self worth that comes from saying I can be a person of impact. And I think that so much of the work environments that many people have been in have not allowed them to kinda spread their wings or test their muscles and to do things. And then when I talk to them about this and, you know, and it’s could be a conversation just like we’re having right now. It could be a very casual one that’s happening just very immediate and random. But to set tell them, so what is it that you would like to to do that makes a difference? What is it that really is in your heart? And, what is it that you would like to say is your legacy? I mean, I use that term. And what I what I have found is that when I legacy are you gonna make in the lives of people that they will remember you after you’re gone? And that that’s a powerful notion to people who have typically worked in in jobs where they’re just kind of fulfilling a task. And then when you give them the opportunity to say, I’m going to make a difference in other people’s lives, when they capture that for themselves, it really is a very powerful becomes a very powerful definer of what their life can be.

Bernie Borges [00:10:30]:
Yeah. I have found that a lot of people, once they start thinking about this concept, they think about it in the same exact way that you frame it up. They may not use those words, but they think about their legacy, whether or not they even use the word legacy, about impacting people. And that’s where I think everybody can be aligned. Right? What’s the impact that I can have on people? I think where a lot of people, at least anecdotally, where I’ve seen, Ed, where a lot of people struggle with this is, how can I do this in my career? How can I shift my career to have an impact on people? And my argument is you don’t have to do it in your career. You can still have a day job or some kind of a career that is just about economics and has no impact on people, but you can still have your passion for impacting people that you do outside of your day job in some kind of a volunteer role that feeds that that hunger and that passion for having an impact on people. Are you seeing

Ed Brenegar [00:11:30]:
that? Yes. I totally agree. And, I’ll I’ll give you one in one anecdote about that. You know, it was early in the sales process of the circle of impact. I was at a book event in Salt Lake City. And this man walked up to my table, and he and that’s I asked him, so who who are you? What what do you do? And he says, well, I’m a welder, and I work for one of the mining companies here in the valley. I said, well, how’s that going for you? He says, well, I’m I like it okay, but I keep asking the company. I wanna do more.

Ed Brenegar [00:12:02]:
I wanna do more. And they don’t want me to do more. I said, well, maybe you should think about this. You have a skill in being a welder. Why don’t you go to the community college and learn to do metal fabrication? Then you take your metal fabrication skills and your welding skills, and then you begin to make public art. You become an artist, and you’re creating something that’s beautiful that other people can enjoy. And the look on his face was like, oh, wow. I have never thought of something so beautiful as that.

Ed Brenegar [00:12:40]:
I I don’t know what happened to him, but it was it’s that sense of, I can take what I have learned, and I can express it in so many different other ways by simply stepping out and trying.

Bernie Borges [00:12:53]:
And what that story reminds me of, and thank you for sharing, it’s a great story, is that sometimes we just have to ask someone or talk like, have a conversation with someone because so often, others see something that we don’t see. True. And and your conversation, that example, is a great example of that. Right? You you you made him aware of something, and it was a spontaneous conversation. Right? It was not planned. You’d never met him before. Is that right? Uh-huh. I’ve never met him before.

Bernie Borges [00:13:23]:
Yeah. And sometimes, it it can be a total stranger. Right? You didn’t know each other, and it can just be someone who is put in that moment of your life to really feed you some insight that you didn’t previously have that can be life changing as it probably was for this gentleman.

Ed Brenegar [00:13:41]:
Yeah. I think that our self awareness gets beaten down oftentimes by the the pressures of work and the the way places, operate. I I’ll give you one other one other example of this. I was at another book event, and this this man comes up to me and he says, oh, well, what’s your book about? I said, it’s a book, for people who are in transition and businesses that are in transition that want to elevate the leadership of their people. That’s sounds pretty good. You know, he’s he’s not trying to be too, too effusive. And, you know, he didn’t want me to think that he’s actually interested in this. I said, so what do you do? And he says, well, I’m, I had a a support team for a group of software engineers.

Ed Brenegar [00:14:28]:
Oh, that sounds interesting. How’s your team? He says, I like my team. Let me ask you a couple of questions. I said, so, is your team clear about what their purpose is? Yeah. Yeah. I’m I’m yeah. We’re clear about our what our purpose is. Do the software engineers that you serve respect the work that you do, that your team does? And he looked at me with this shocked look, and he says, no.

Ed Brenegar [00:14:54]:
They don’t. Or is the company clear about the impact that they want to have in the marketplace? I’m not sure about that. So all of a sudden, his sense of awareness about who he is and what he wants was transformed by some simple questions that kind of highlighted important things, like being clear about your values and having respectful relationships and and having a clear sense of purpose that leads to an impact that you want to have.

Bernie Borges [00:15:24]:
Yeah. You know, you you bring up a great topic, self awareness. I’m big on this topic. It’s something that I I like to really say that this whole podcast, the Midlife Fulfilled podcast, is about self awareness as we go through these midlife seasons and being aware of the 5 pillars and and and all of that. And I find that oftentimes, we, and I’m as guilty of it as anybody because I’m as human as anybody, sometimes that self awareness is something that we need help with. As I mentioned earlier, we were discussing earlier about just, you know, help from from someone else. Mhmm. What about when someone is in this season of life, whatever season whatever decade it may be, but it’s just over 40, and we have this little voice inside our head, Ed.

Bernie Borges [00:16:10]:
We have this little voice that’s kind of, you know, gnawing at us, and we know that we wanna have, can have an impact on people. We may not use the word legacy or leadership, but we wanna have an impact. And it’s this little voice that’s just bugging us, but the individual is not taking action. So aside from reading your book, which is great advice, what other advice in addition to reading your book? Because it sounds like that’s what your book is about. I’ve not read it. You know, how do you respond to someone who might, be characteristic of that?

Ed Brenegar [00:16:45]:
I I would tell them that if they if they had acknowledged to me that there’s this voice, I would say, well, I think you need to listen. But maybe what would be a better idea is for you to get you a little journal, and you write something in the journal every day. Just write about things that you’re seeing. You don’t have to write a sentence. You don’t have to write a paragraph, but just write things that you’re seeing and having a sense of and not try to try to make something from it, but just allow it to kind of guide you into a deeper sense of what is possible. And I’ve told that to people who have come up to me and said, well, I’d love to write a book. I said, well, don’t. Just write.

Ed Brenegar [00:17:30]:
Just write. Let your mind and not your heart express to you what you’re what you’re feeling and thinking so that you can articulate what’s going on inside of you. Because unless you can articulate it, then it just remains this kind of feeling that if you don’t feed it in the proper way, in a positive way, you’ll become more and more disappointed with yourself. And you may never be able to take the steps that you need to take to get to where you wanna be.

Bernie Borges [00:17:59]:
Yeah. First of all, I totally agree with that suggestion. I think it’s a great suggestion, and I think that can work for a lot of us. There are some people who may not be inclined to wanna actually pull out a pen or a pencil or whatever and write it down. And by the way, I do think if you’re gonna write it down, like, handwriting it as opposed to typing it out, but that’s still a personal choice. I think another option, and let me get your reaction to this, Ed. Another option is if if that journal, writing it down, is just not something that someone’s comfortable doing, is get something that someone’s comfortable doing, is get out of your normal surroundings.

Ed Brenegar [00:18:34]:

Bernie Borges [00:18:35]:
Go somewhere that is not a normal surrounding, and don’t have an agenda, don’t have a plan other than you’re gonna spend some time there. Whether you’re sitting down and staring up at the trees or walking along a trail or a beach or whatever it is, just out of your normal surroundings where your brain is not gonna be cluttered with all the things that it is normally cluttered with all day, every day by the way, I’m speaking to myself here. Yeah. And and just be somewhere where I can just, you know, again, stare off into nothing, and then let those thoughts just kinda flood from the back of my head out with some clarity. What’s your reaction to that?

Ed Brenegar [00:19:22]:
I I think it’s a great idea because I think that that analytical side of our brains kinda likes to take over, likes to control things. And and if you if you kinda study the neuropsychology of the brain, that that analytical side is very narrow and likes to keep things within a certain boundary. And if we just allow ourselves to kind of be and and feel the the the the environment that we’re in, we may be able to begin to see things that we wouldn’t be able to see. I think the better way to say it is that we’re gonna allow our intuition to guide us into seeing what may be a true thing for us.

Bernie Borges [00:20:07]:
Yeah. I think a key message that I’m getting from our conversation and from what, what you’ve written in your book, and again, I admit I haven’t read it, but from this conversation is that it really is about self awareness that when we know we wanna have an impact on people is that and I’m I’m not saying these are your words. I’m gonna kinda put it into my own words, Ed, and that is we have to give ourselves permission to figure out what that is. Right? And by giving ourselves permission to figure it out and being intentional about it, right Yes. Then we can come to a point where we can have some understanding on how we can have an impact on people and then, of course, take some action on that.

Ed Brenegar [00:20:49]:
Well, if you don’t do it, no one else is gonna lead you there. You have to you have to make those decisions. That’s why the the whole the whole definition is oriented around the personal initiative we take. And everybody takes personal initiative. Everybody does. We we get up in the morning. We get we take personal initiative to get out of bed, to go take a shower, brush your teeth, have some breakfast, get in the car, go to work. We take initiative all the time, but we’re now we’re talking about this initiative that has a purpose to it that may be unique to ourselves.

Ed Brenegar [00:21:24]:
And that’s that’s, I think, where this demarcation line that we’re talking about begins to matter to us because it’s when we have a sense of purpose that is kinda new to us, you know, oh, I want to this is something important to me, then all of a sudden the energy to make those changes to get out of bed or whatever it may be is is there for us.

Bernie Borges [00:21:49]:
I think the other thing that we have to be mindful of and and maybe, resist the temptation to say to yourself that I wanna figure out what I’m gonna do with the rest of my Midlife. Because no one knows how much time we have. And, you know, in most cases, of course, nobody can predict when we’re gonna go, But in most cases, we have a lot of time. You know? If you’re in your forties and, you know, unless something else happens, you’ve got decades ahead of you. So just try to figure out, you know, what’s ahead of you for the next 6 months or 12 months or or 2 or 3 years. But this notion of I need to figure out what I’m gonna do with the rest of my life is just unrealistic. Would you agree?

Ed Brenegar [00:22:35]:
I think for most people, it is unrealistic. I mean, I think there’s some of us who who have I think your your your terminology was the conscious competent. I think some of us cross that threshold, and we become that. And and our whole life is defined by this sense of purpose. But for most of us, I think, but for most people, the joy of all of this is trying new things and seeing what can happen and and never being settled into one thing, but to allow ourselves to go through many, many things. And I think that’s that’s, in in in some ways, that’s what I’ve done with my life. I mean, if you look over the course of my life, I keep changing. I keep doing new things.

Ed Brenegar [00:23:18]:
I I mean, I’m doing a podcast now. I’m you know, I started that when I was just a few months before my 70th birthday. You know? What what in the world am I doing that for? You know, I’ve heard that, you know, from some people. Why did you start this at your age? What is my age? Well, my age is 70. What what does what what relevance does that have? I have purpose, and so I’m gonna go try something. I may not do this the rest of my life. I may not do it the rest of this year. That’s not the point.

Ed Brenegar [00:23:45]:
The point is I acted upon this notion within me, and I’m gonna go try something until it’s I’ve kinda fulfilled that.

Bernie Borges [00:23:53]:
Yeah. I love that. So give us a closing thought. The title of your book is the circle of impact, and it’s really what this conversation has been about. So just give us a closing thought on the circle of impact.

Ed Brenegar [00:24:06]:
Well, here here’s a way I would suggest people to think about this. First of all, be clear about your values, come to some kind of sense of what your purpose is based on those values, and then seek out people who share the values that you have so that you can build relationships of respect and trust together. From that, if you also share your purpose, then from that, you can imagine a vision together that you seek to achieve that together you can have impact. And that, I think, is a beautiful way to live our lives because most of us maybe feel a sense of, alienation or alone loneliness oftentimes in this space that we’re talking about. So this is a way of finding community in the midst of, creating the legacies that we can have throughout our lives.

Bernie Borges [00:24:59]:
And finding fulfillment along the way. I often say that fulfillment fulfillment an achievement of some sort and it’s immutable. So Absolutely. With you a 100%. Well, Ed, where can my listener connect with you and just get into your world?

Ed Brenegar [00:25:14]:
Well, I have a website, ed edbredinger.com, and I also have a Substack, which is edbredinger. Substack.com. And I have the Eddie Network podcast. You can add just Google Ed Breininger on YouTube, and you can find me there. That’s that’s typically the way people will find me. You can email me at ed@edbreninger.com. And I welcome everyone to, reach out to me and have a conversation. And who knows? Maybe that will lead to you being a guest on my podcast as I am on yours.

Ed Brenegar [00:25:45]:
So I welcome anyone’s reaching out to me and having, some time to talk.

Bernie Borges [00:25:52]:
Fantastic. Well, my listener knows, Ed, that all that will be linked up in the show notes. So thank you so much for joining me on this episode of the Midlife Fulfill podcast, a maximum episode. I’ve enjoyed every minute of this conversation, Ed. Thank you so much.

Ed Brenegar [00:26:07]:
Thank you, Bernie. It’s been great to be with you.

The Midlife Career Reboot Workbook

Midlife Fulfilled Podcast Page on LinkedIn

Subscribe & Listen On

Connect with Bernie Borges

Rate & Review

Is it time?

Whether you're in your 40s, 50s, 60s, or beyond, this is a time to SCORE your fulfillment.


The Midlife Career Reboot Workbook

Subscribe & Listen on

Get the Midlife Fulfilled Podcast
Delivered to Your Inbox

Each episode is curated with love.

Your information is 100% secure and will never be shared with anyone. You can unsubscribe at any time.