“I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.”

“I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.”

—Eartha Kitt, 20th Century American singer, actress, dancer

Image from Barry Demp Coaching

Have you ever done a values clarification exercise? You know – the ones that ask you deep, probing questions such as:

At the end of your life, what would you like people to say about you?

Beyond the usual thoughts of family and making a difference in the lives of others, I would include being a student, a teacher, and of course, a coach, supporting the growth and development of others.

EXERCISE:

How important is the process of learning in your life?

What current and future developmental efforts and contributions will you have shared with others when you move on from this world?

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

—Maya Angelou, 21st Century American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist

Image from yadvashem.org

During our visit to Israel, Wendy and I had the profound experience of visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

Unrelenting pain and deep sadness cannot fully express this dark period in human history.

This museum and the tragic story and inhumanity it conveys cannot be unlived. It is a brilliant and courageous reminder for all mankind of the importance of a “never again” stance against some global behaviors.

EXERCISE:

What are some of the big and small lessons that are part of your personal and professional history?

In what ways have these experiences provided you the courage to never travel these paths again?

“Nothing is work unless you’d rather be doing something else.”

“Nothing is work unless you’d rather be doing something else.”

—George Halas, founder of the Chicago Bears

What would you rather be doing at this very moment? Hopefully you love learning, personal growth/development feels more like play than work, and reading The Quotable Coach every morning is an enjoyable and rewarding minute of your day.

What are the areas of your life in which you expend considerable effort because those activities fill you up rather than bring you down?

When I first began coaching, I was introduced to the word “toleration” by Thomas Leonard of Coach University. Simply defined, tolerations are things that bug us, sap our energy, and could be eliminated. Although some people have a sense of pride and even feel noble about carrying many of these burdens, there can be a considerable price to pay.

EXERCISE:

Where and how can you bring more fulfillment and satisfaction into your work and life? What are some of the tolerations you can reduce or eliminate to lead a more enjoyable life?

Consider picking up a copy of Thomas Leonard’s book, The Portable Coach to learn more about this technique.

“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.”

“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.”

—William Arthur Ward, 20th Century American Author

Image of a small candle burning

Image from Unsplash by Chirag K

There’s a lot of chemistry and physics behind the beauty and light of a candle flame.

Essentially, all waxes are hydrocarbons that, when heated, become vaporized when the flame melts the wax near the wick.

The wick’s key purpose is to draw up the liquid wax by capillary action, similar to a tree drawing up water and nutrients from its roots to its leaves.

EXERCISE:

What are some ways you can fan the flame of curiosity to take your personal and professional learning efforts to the next level?

“The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around.”

“The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around.”

—Thomas Edison

Sillhouette of a child with drawing of a brain

Image from NorthTexasKids

Tomorrow is my grandson Weston’s first birthday. There are so many people in his life that want to celebrate this special day that my daughter rented a pavilion in a local park to accommodate everyone.

Watching the transformation of Weston’s body and brain this year through visits and video calls has been a delight. Rolling, crawling, cruising, and of course being carried and taken many places has revealed an exponential development of how he takes in and interacts with the world.

EXERCISE:

Where will your body take your brain today? What wonderful sights, experiences, and people will you meet to bring new lessons and growth opportunities into your life?

In every man there is something

“In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him, and in that I am his pupil.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th Century American essayist and poet

Image of two people talking at a business meeting

Image from Unsplash by raw pixel

There is a wise saying about the fact that we have one mouth and two ears, and should use them proportionately.

For most of us, coaching, teaching, advising, and mentoring others, although with good intentions, plays into the fact that we often prefer to be interesting rather than interested.

Consider yourself an explorer or a miner looking for the gold in “them thar’ hills.” To reap such riches, the only tools you would need would be an open set of eyes, ears, and of course, an open mind.

EXERCISE:

In what area of your life is it far more important to be the pupil rather than the teacher?

What is it that you most wish to learn to support either your personal or professional life?

Who are the specific teachers in your world that hold the wisdom you seek?

we learn by taking action

“We learn by taking action and seeing whether it works or not.”

—Patrick Lencioni, Author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Image from Unsplash by Rawpixel

In the book BOLD – How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World, authors Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler point out key strategies to achieve breakthrough results.

It seems that most innovative and pioneering organizations and people use a form of rapid experimentation and iterations to come up with amazing products and services. Those products and services eventually come into our lives just like a delivery from Amazon.

One example is the process Google X (or just “X”) uses to support their prolific product development. Their “Never Fail to Fail” innovation principles use this rapid iteration process to fail frequently, fail fast, and most importantly, fail forward.

EXERCISE:

How can you increase your level of action and experimentation to create far more innovative solutions to better your world?

Pick up a copy of BOLD to examine many other ideas to make a far bigger dent in your own universe.

There is no greater education than one that is self-driven

“There is no greater education than one that is self-driven.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson, American Astrophysicist

Image of a notebook with a checklist

Image from Unsplash by Glenn Carstens-Peters

Elementary school, middle school, high school, and college are what we call traditional education. If you were lucky, perhaps your upbringing included books, encyclopedias, and of course, highly committed parents who emphasized education as a key doorway to a bright future.

For many, once we complete our traditional education, we slow down or even stop our efforts for continuous learning. Somehow that song, “No more teachers, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks” was ingrained in us, and we decided we were finished.

EXERCISE:

Consider yourself as your own home-schooling professor, creating the perfect curriculum just for you. The topics you choose are both important and relevant to a fully engaged and happy life. What could this self-driven education include that would result in a PhD in Thee?

The future is something which everyone reaches

“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”

—C.S. Lewis, 20th Century British author

Image created in Canva

Today’s quote has a bit of a passive quality for me. In a recent article, Michael Simmons points out the considerable downside of a passive approach by describing a term he coined “The Five Hour Rule” a few years ago. Through his research of the most successful people in the world he discovered a pattern: They all devoted at least five hours a week to deliberate learning, to ensure long-term success.

His work demonstrates that in maintaining only our current knowledge, about 50% will become outdated within a decade. He points out that each of us will need to learn five hours a week just to stay up-to-date in our current fields, and more if we want to get ahead.

Most of us know that we all forget a significant portion of what we learn, but did you know that facts in many fields of study have a half-life where previous knowledge can no longer be found in scientific citations?

Consider where the fields of artificial intelligence, app development, social media management, driverless cars and cloud computing will be even a few years from now. None of these fields existed 15 years ago.

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways can and will you invest at least five hours each week on intentional learning?

Consider checking out Michael Simmons article by reading “The Math Behind the Five Hour Rule.”

We learn by pushing ourselves

“We learn by pushing ourselves and finding out what lies at the outer reaches of our abilities.”

—Josh Waitzkin, American chess prodigy and author

Image of a man doing a handstand on the beach

Image from Unsplash by JanFillem

Did you know that only about one in five people meet the total recommended amount of exercise?

Of particular relevance is renewed interest in strength and resistance training. The stretching and stresses on our muscles cause micro-tears in the tissue, which then actually heals and grows even stronger.

This growth and increase in muscle mass has the added benefit of increasing your metabolism by up to 15%. That helps with weight loss, or at least a reduction in body fat.

EXERCISE:

In what areas of interest would a few more cerebral push-ups help you stretch and grow beyond your current perceived abilities?