In one of my favorite scenes from The Lord of the Rings, elf queen Galadriel tells Frodo, a 3’6″ hobbit, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” Frodo goes on to save the civilized world, completing a Herculean task that would have daunted the biggest and strongest of the “big people.” He destroys Sauron, a disembodied force of pure evil intent on dominating every creature on earth.

Frodo Was Not Alone

But Frodo doesn’t do this singlehandedly, he has resources. People–Galadriel, the wizard Gandalf, strong humans, an elf and a dwarf all support him. Frodo’s fellow hobbit Sam, sticks with him to the horrendously dangerous end. Frodo possesses inanimate resources–a magic ring, a camouflage cloak, special travel bread of which one little piece is a meal, and a sword that changes color when Orcs (Sauron’s servants) approach.

Finding Resources

In my classes and books, I explain that interest-driven interactions are all about looking for resources, alternate ways to satisfy the interests of each party. Sal asks $40,000 for his boat. Beulah can only afford to pay $20,000. A numerical compromise would not fully satisfy either of them. But if Sal’s interest in selling the boat is to finance an RV, and Beulah has an RV she wants to sell, they might both fully satisfy their interest by a swap where no money at all changes hands.

When you learn and practice interest-driven skills, looking for resources becomes a habit that can help you achieve any goal, whether or not it involves others.

I Felt Too Small

I’ve been concerned about major league baseball players not wearing masks in the dugouts and bullpens. They set a bad example for boys and young men, who emulate their sports heroes as role models. I tried emailing the Houston Astros several times. No results. I figured that such emails don’t even reach the team owner or coaches. At most, whoever handles their email might tell them that a certain number of people requested that the players wear masks consistently.

At one point, the MLB officials directed all players to wear masks in the dugouts and pretty much everywhere, except on the field. Player cooperation was never 100%, and regressed a lot within a few weeks of that directive.

I was about to throw up my hands and give up. If MLB orders didn’t inspire lasting cooperation, and the officials apparently didn’t reprimand those who disobeyed the orders, what were the chances that my lone voice could make a difference? I felt too small. But then, my resource scouting habit kicked in. What other approaches might influence the players? How could I get a greater number of voices, and more influential voices, to deliver the player-mask-up message?

I Found Resources

I thought of composing the body of a message that I could share with others to personalize, then, send to their local teams and/or to the MLB bigwigs.

Or maybe I could interest the mayor and Houston’s reps in Congress and the state legislature, in taking up this cause. They could communicate directly with the Astros owner and coaches. I might draft the body of a letter that others could send to their mayors and representatives, making it easier for them to join me.

Once I had an eye and an ear open for resources, I recognized an even better one in an email newsletter to which I subscribe. The Poynter Institutes’s [1] Al Tompkins currently writes a daily email devoted exclusively to COVID-19, not just medical and scientific information, but also ramifications, such as the effects of the pandemic on various industries. Each newsletter contains a link to email Mr. Tompkins ideas for topics to investigate and report.

I wrote to him about my sports concerns. To my delight, Mr. Tompkins replied that he and his wife shared those concerns, and that he would write about this. He not only did so, but made sports the lead off topic in his newsletter of last Friday. Here’s a web version of his article. [2]

Mr. Tompkins is more influential and has a much larger platform than I. His article has reached many more people who might make their wishes known to their local teams, the MLB and/or their government officials.

What’s more, I now have a link to an authoritative article that I can post on social media and share directly with individuals.

COVID Boredom?

Most of us are bored and restless from staying home, away from other people. You can perk yourself up while learning to find resources to satisfy your interests. Try one of my new virtual training courses. This isn’t like learning from a book or a lecture. In true workshop training, you will interact with me by video conference in practice exercises. Practicing is the way to become truly proficient at these skills, so that they come to you instinctively in real life. They can actually change your life, as they did mine.

Even better, I am now offering these new courses at an introductory rate of 50% off.

Please click here to read more or contact me directly with any questions.

[1] The Poynter Institute is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that provides news, training, information on journalistic ethics and leadership, fact checking, and media literacy.

[2] And here’s a link to a landing pare for all of Al Tompkins’ articles: 

%d bloggers like this: