Will this make life meaningfully better

“Will this make people’s lives meaningfully better?”

—Dave Kashen, CEO at Worklife

word "make a difference" handwritten on blackboard

Image from MAP Professional Development

As a coach for over 25 years, I have a great fondness for powerful and provocative questions. More often than not, I have a very strong preference for those deeply curious and probing questions that begin with who, what, where, when, why, and how.

Today’s quote is an exception in that it is closed-ended and requires us to determine if our answer is Yes or No.

Most people value making a difference and contributing to those around them. Perhaps we can all use this question to keep us focused on the priority of living an even more meaningful life.


Consider writing this question on a few Post-it-Notes and placing them where you will see them in your personal and professional spaces. Please feel free to write me about what value this exercise provided you and others over the coming weeks.

a wise man’s questions

“A wise man’s questions contain half the answer.”

—Solomon ibn Gabirol, 11th Century Jewish Philosopher

Image from The Secret Yumiverse

When was the last time you wrestled with a jar that would not open? Whatever was inside was just on the other side of that pesky lid! Eventually, I’m sure, you found a stronger person, tapped the jar against the counter, or maybe ran it under hot water to get access to the contents.

In many ways, wise and thoughtful questions are like jar openers, giving us access to answers, valuable opportunities, and important discoveries.

The ability, skill, and mastery of knowing what questions to ask of ourselves and others is, as today’s quote suggests, half the battle.


How can you more fully discover what’s inside yourself and others by enhancing your curiosity and ability to formulate provocative, deeply probing questions?

A Beautiful Question

“A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something.”

—Warren Berger, American Journalist

"ask more questions" sign between two clocks

Image from Unsplash by Jonathan Simcoe

Coaches love beautiful and powerful questions.  In fact, if coaches were Batman, our utility belts would be filled with them!

What if you were to begin questioning all areas of your life, to determine what is truly working and what is not? What might your answers show, and what choices or actions might you take moving forward?

As a reader of The Quotable Coach, you are astute and have probably noticed that I’ve filled this post with questions!


What are a few of your favorite, most beautiful questions? What questions keep you on your toes and move your life forward? How might you use coaching questions to support the lives of those for whom you care?

how would you like

“How would you like things to be different in your life?”

—Fran Peavey, Social Activist

Image of shapes with questions in them

Fran Peavey was a social activist who passed away in 2010. Through her travels across the globe, she developed a process she called “strategic questioning,” which is characterized by questioning with an open mind and a caring heart.

Using this open, curious, and often provocative but not judgmental style, she conducted thousands of interviews over the course of two decades. She believed that this approach put people at ease, lowered barriers, and helped them find common ground around shared concerns.


Take 3-5 minutes to ask and answer one of Fran’s favorite questions: “How would you like things to be different in your life?” Consider engaging others in your personal and professional communities in this inquiry, so you can help one another make changes.

Feel free to let me know what happens by replying to this post!

the best story

“When I look back in five years, which of these options will make the best story?”

—John Hager, American Politician

Image from evollution.com

Image from evollution.com

Are you facing a major fork in the road in your professional or personal life?

Consider brainstorming all the possible options, and perhaps a few that are outside your current vision, to see where they lead in the near and distant future.

Which potential choice fits best with your vision, values, beliefs, skills, strengths, and personality? Pay attention to feelings stirred up by these hypothetical journeys.

What scares you?

What excites you?

What delights you?


Ask and answer the questions above, and begin telling the story you intend to write with your life.

more than one right answer

“There is more than one right answer.”

-Dewitt Jones, National Geographic Photographer

image from www.english-forlife.com

image from www.english-forlife.com

There is something satisfying about getting the right answer.

Take a trip down memory lane back to school, where the goal was to get 100% on a test, or a perfect score on the entrance exam for college. Striving for excellence or perfection can be the source of great upset and frustration since we humans quite often fall short of the mark.

There can be many paths to excellence and achievement. Today’s quote coaches us to relax a bit and determine what is right for us, which may not necessarily be what others or society dictate.


What are the right answers for you regarding the following questions?

  • Where do you most enjoy spending your free or leisure time?
  • What strategies work best for you in your marital and parenting relationships?
  • What qualities and attributes bring you the greatest happiness and life satisfaction?
  • Where else would it be of value to remember that there is no one right answer to any question or issue you face?

Wait for the answer

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”

– William S. Burroughs, American writer

468Image from Flickr by anieto2k.

One of my favorite phrases about coaching is “coaches let their questions do the heavy lifting.” If this is true – and I assert that it is – then we can all coach others, be coached by others, and even coach ourselves. We need only ask the right questions, then relax as our answers reveal themselves.

It is through this personal inquiry that our question-answering muscles do the work and allow us to grow and evolve.


What one or two important questions do you need to ask and answer for yourself today?

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.”

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.”

—Sir Francis Bacon, 15th Century English Philosopher

Image of an "ask questions" button

Image from killerinterventions

One crucial tool for most coaches, including myself, is the question. Below are some of my favorites:

  1. What results in life are essential for you to see yourself as a success?
  2. What qualities do you hope to expand or develop to be your best future self?
  3. What would you like people to say about you at the end of your life?
  4. What inspires you?
  5. What are you passionate about?

And of course… #6. What else?

Always ask “What else?” to help you layer into each question, to reach the full depth and rightness of your answers.


To reap the other half of wisdom, answer at least one of these questions today and others over the course of the coming week.

Share this exercise and your answers with those you care about in your personal and professional life.

Coach and support one another in living life each day consistently with your answers.

#66: “To raise new questions, new possibilities…”

“…to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”

– Albert Einstein

When I was in school, success was all about getting the correct answer. In recent years, I have become fascinated by powerful questions and the fact that there are often many possible answers.

I am becoming far more comfortable with ambiguity and shades of grey. I think Einstein, through his study of quantum physics and his quotes pertaining to the mysteries life demonstrates, has led many (including myself) in this direction.


How can you use powerful questions to do some heavy lifting and find the added strength and capacity to advance your life?

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