When you’re happy you enjoy the music

“When you’re happy you enjoy the music. When you’re sad, you understand the lyrics.”

-Frank Ocean, American songwriter and rapper

Image of Bob Dylan on the cover of Rolling Stone

If you were asked to name your favorite songwriters, who would make your list?

Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Songwriters include:

  • Taylor Swift, the youngest artist on Rolling Stone’s list
  • Eminem, contemporary pop artist with head-spinning wordplay
  • Sam Cook, one of the first African-American civil rights songwriters
  • Loretta Lynn, Nashville’s feminist revolutionary
  • Bert Berns, who wrote hits like Twist & Shout, and Piece of My Heart
  • Willie Nelson, whose hits include country, reggae, and standards with strings
  • John Lennon / Paul McCartney, powerhouse duo of The Beatles
  • Paul Simon, who wrote The Sounds of Silence, and Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • Chuck Berry, music’s first ever guitar hero
  • Bob Dylan, 1960s folk music hero

Recently, Bob Dylan was recognized with a Nobel Prize in Literature for the lyrics he wrote that moved so many with their power and meaning. He was also #1 on Rolling Stone’s list.

All of these songwriters are lyrical poets, sharing their most moving and significant life moments in song.


How might you glean even greater insight and life wisdom by listens more closely to the words of masterful songwriters, regardless of your mood?

Whether to say it

“A smart person knows what to say. A wise person knows whether or not to say it.”

—Author Unknown

When can less be more? How often do you find yourself giving others advice or sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience, only to find that it is unwanted?

Were you ever that kid in school who raised their hand saying “call on me!” so you could share the right answer and show how smart you were? If so, what reaction did you receive from the other students? If not, how did you feel about your classmates who did?

I have found it very useful, in recent years, to restrain my exuberance to share what I know in order to more fully allow others to share and contribute their thoughts and ideas. Not surprisingly, I learn far more when my mouth is shut and my ears are open!


Where can less from you and more from others be a wiser recipe for your future success?

drowning in information

“We are drowning in information and starving for knowledge.”

—Rutherford D. Rogers, Deputy Librarian of Congress

Image of keyboard, hands, coffee, and watch

Image from Unsplash by Catheryn Lavery

Did you know that the average person has five social media accounts, and spends one hour and forty minutes browsing their networks each day?

The average adult also spends more than twenty hours online, and watches over thirty hours of television per week.

How does your usage compare to these statistics? To what degree are you drowning in information?

Unfortunately, many of us simply assume that is “the way things are,” and that we simply need to keep up with the pace of life and swim for our lives.


Estimate what percent of the information you take in through social media and other sources is truly valuable and worth knowing.

Begin today, through a more discerning perspective, to remove or eliminate at least one such source until your head is fully above water.

To Profit from Good Advice

“To profit from good advice requires more wisdom than to give it.”

—John Churton Collins, Literary Critic

Image from tanveernasser.com

Image from tanveernasser.com

I put significant focus on an individual’s self-awareness when I begin a new coaching engagement. To do this, I introduce an “inner voice” exercise, in which the person pays close attention to:

  • What their inner voice is saying,
  • Determining if this voice is supportive or critical,
  • Determining how open and receptive they are to the thoughts of others.

Most people discover that when they look for the value and contribution in what others say, they reap greater rewards and boost their relationships.


How and in what ways can you shift your own “inner voice” to receive more good advice and wisdom from others?

Build a Bridge

“Cry a river, build a bridge, get over it.”

—Author Unknown

Image from landscapesofunderstanding.com

Image from landscapesofunderstanding.com

For most people I work with as a coach, life is difficult, challenging, and often upsetting from time to time. Some are so stuck or stopped that they can hardly see any path forward.

During these times, feelings run high and the “emotional tension” they experience as part of their current reality must be acknowledged fully so they can cry the rivers that are appropriate. Only then can they collect themselves to realize that life goes on. Building bridges to the future is now the job at hand, to realize their resolve and get on the other side of life’s barriers and obstacles.


How can you fully acknowledge and experience all the emotions associated with some of your most significant challenges? How can you use that wisdom to garner the strength and capacities to build bridges and get over situations on your life journey?

“I remind myself every morning…”

“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”

—Larry King, American television and radio host

Image from Flickr by Ky Olsen

Image from Flickr by Ky Olsen

Have you ever considered why we have two ears and only one mouth? Why not one of each? Perhaps some higher power—not just Larry King—knew that listening is twice as valuable as speaking.


Practice using open-ended questions, including the all-powerful “What Else?” This follow-up & layering technique will help you speak less and learn more, at home and in your workplace.


“Patience is the Companion of Wisdom.”

“Patience is the Companion of Wisdom.”

—St. Augustine, early Christian Theologian

Photo from Flickr by Thomas Mues

Photo from Flickr by Thomas Mues

When was the last time you watched a great leader give an inspiring speech? If you are like me, you occasionally enjoy a provocative TED Talk. The TED tagline is “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

Over the years, I’ve seen that the best leaders and presenters talk a bit more slowly than most. They measure their words carefully, to achieve the impact they desire. As I listen to them, I find myself slowing down, and leaning in to hear every morsel of wisdom they present.


Where would greater patience, and slowing down your busy life help you contribute and capture the wisdom of the moment?

“Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.”

“Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.”
-W. Somerset Maughman, British playwright, novelist and short story writer

Photo from Flickr by Nikki Collett

Photo from Flickr by Natural Turn

If you, as a loyal reader of The Quotable Coach series ever visited my website or received an email from me, you will have noted a quote by Tuli Kupferberg: “When patterns are broken new worlds will emerge.”

A critical aspect of why the coaching process supports people in achieving new and better results is your willingness to break the patterns of behavior that have brought you to this point in your professional and personal life.

Included in these patterns are habits, rituals, and traditions that may limit your capacity to move forward toward a highly desired goal or objective.


Examine if, or to what extent, your current personal or professional traditions may be imprisoning and limiting your freedom to pursue your fullest potential.