A vision is not just a picture of what could be

“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.”

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, professor of business at Harvard Business School

Image of the Methuselah Pine, from wikimedia.org

Did you know that many of the oldest and largest living things on the planet are trees?

The current record-holder for an individual, non-clonal tree is a great basin bristlecone pine from California, called Methuselah.

Through tree-ring cross referencing, it has been shown to be almost 5,000 years old.

Imagine yourself as this tree, living for five millennia.

Think of its skyward vision and continuous growth to become something more with each new branch and leaf.


What are some of your most powerful visions?

How do they appeal to your better self and call you to grow and become something more?

“Can you stay curious a little bit longer?”

“Can you stay curious a little bit longer?”

Michael Bungay Stainer, author of The Coaching Habit

Image from Amazon

Michael Bungay Stainer is one of the top coaches in the world. His best-selling book The Coaching Habit is among the most widely read books on the subject today with over 15,000 4- and 5-star reviews on Amazon.

When asked during a recent webinar with Chip Conely of the Modern Elder Academy for some of his very favorite questions he mentioned today’s quote.

As someone deeply committed to the growth and development of others, he points to personal inquiry and staying curious as key catalysts for realizing far more of our potential.


Consider tapping into your own inner coach by reading The Coaching Habit to see how this skill can be applied in your communities. Please also explore some of Michael’s other books including…

How to Work with (Almost) Anyone
How to Begin
The Advice Trap
Do More Great Work

Comparison to others can have a positive impact on your life

“Comparison to others can have a positive impact on your life. Apply it with curiosity and embrace the opportunity to inspire growth.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Unsplash by NorWood Themes

Most of us have experienced the dark side of making comparisons to others. Social media, in particular, has raised it to exponential levels.

What are some examples you’ve seen or experienced directly?

What negative and lingering consequences are easily observable in the people around you?

Alternatively, where and when has making comparisons propelled you toward greater mastery and achievement?

Who are the mentors, coaches, and role models that encourage and motivate you to be your best?

How do their examples help you tap into your own reservoirs of courage, tenacity, and persistence to realize far more of your potential?


Where and how could a more positive curiosity toward comparison with others inspire greater growth and achievement in your personal and professional life?

How can you grow from no

How can you grow from no?

—Calm App Reflection

Image from Unsplash by Jakayla Toney

How well do you deal with rejection?

How many big and small no’s do you receive in a typical day?

To what degree do they stop you or simply create a detour in your paths and plans?

Take a few minutes to examine the significant no’s you’ve received over the years in your personal and professional worlds. In what ways did they test you and offer valuable lessons that still serve you today?

Oscar Wilde said: “Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.”


How have the no’s of the past helped you grow?

How can the no’s of today and tomorrow be a springboard for your future growth?

Nature offers us wonderful examples of growth

Nature offers us wonderful examples of growth, renewal, and transformation when we allow each of its seasons to guide our life.

Calm App Reflection

Image from Unsplash by Ian Schneider

What is your perspective on winter? What activities make up most of your days during the winter months? How much time do you spend outdoors?

Except for periodic brisk walks and sprinting from one building to another with my car acting as a shuttle service, I live a predominantly indoor life when it’s cold. Although I admire the grit and fortitude of people who choose a frigid lifestyle, I prefer to hibernate or fly south.

Instead of feeling bad and self-critical during these months, I’ve learned to embrace more inner efforts as a necessary and valuable aspect of living on a planet that circles the sun on a 23 degree angle.


How can and do you embrace each of nature’s seasons and the opportunity they offer? What inner and outer work lies ahead for you in this new year?

When you receive criticism take a moment to pause

When you receive criticism take a moment to pause. Let this time be a kind of speed bump to slow down and “try on” what is being said.

—Calm App Reflection

Image from Unsplash by Brett Jordan

No one likes to be criticized and judged. We like the way we are doing our lives and anyone who disapproves is clearly wrong!

Oops! What just happened? How can it be that we, too, may be just as critical of others, and they don’t care for it very much either?

What if instead of blocking this feedback and defending our positions, we simply paused to consider their perspective?

What would happen if we actually looked for the potential value in what was being said?

How might new ways of looking at ourselves create new opportunities for growth and self-improvement?


How would slowing down for the seemingly critical speed bumps offered by others make your travel through life smoother?

How might the ideas that are shared actually fit if you “try them on” for size?

If you still find them too tight, loose, itchy, or the wrong color, you can take them off.

I am still learning

“I am still learning.”

—Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, 14th Century Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet

Image from Unsplash By Grant Whitty

Michelangelo was born in 1475 and died in 1564. His longevity would be remarkable even today, with the average life expectancy of a man being somewhere between 78 and 83.

Perhaps it was his Mediterranean diet or disciplined exercise efforts that added those extra years. My guess would definitely include his industrious spirit and his desire for continuous learning.

His Sistine Chapel ceiling was completed between 1508 and 1512, and the Rondanini Pieta sculpture was produced in the year of his passing.


How strong is your desire to learn and grow? Where might exercising your learning muscles add more years to your life and life in your years?  How does and can the pursuit of learning make your life a more beautiful work of art?

Switch up your stress story

Switch up your stress story.

—Calm App Reflection

Image from Unsplash by Elisa Ventur

To what degree do you feel like you are at a breaking point?  Where are the levels of personal and professional stress having a negative impact on your physical and mental health?

I recently visited the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. Of particular interest was a glass breaking exhibition in which various types of glass were put to the test. Over the years of use and development of this miraculous material, engineers and scientists have come up with numerous processes to make glass far stronger and resistant to breakage.


Where are you being tempered and heat treated through various life experiences? How can you view these events and the stories you tell about them as opportunities for greater growth and resilience?

I once was better at this than I am

“I once was better at this than I am.”

Arthur C. Brooks, American social scientist, musician, and columnist

Image from Unsplash by Armand Khoury

Where are you still climbing the ladders of life? Where do you continue to learn, grow, and achieve new levels of excellence and mastery?

Where have you peaked in your personal and professional efforts? Where it is harder to keep up with your former self?

In what areas of your life have you noticed declines in physical or mental capacities, and how well are you doing navigating this descent?


Consider reading Brook’s book From Strength to Strength and pay particular attention to the concepts of fluid versus crystalized intelligence. These concepts were first described by Raymond Cattell in his 1971 book, Abilities: Structure, Growth, and Action.

I hope these resources offer you evidence and that we can all keep getting better in ways we may previously not have considered.