“Open your eyes to the beauty around you. Open your mind to the wonders of life. Open your heart to those who love you, and always be true to yourself.”

“Open your eyes to the beauty around you. Open your mind to the wonders of life. Open your heart to those who love you, and always be true to yourself.”

—Maya Angelou, late American poet, memoirist, civil rights activist

Only four presidents — John F. Kennedy in 1961, Bill Clinton in 1993 and 1997, Barack Obama in 2009 and 2013, and Joe Biden in 2021 — have included poets in their inaugurations. Maya Angelou was one of those six poets. I hope her nuggets of wisdom in today’s quote resonates for you.

EXERCISE:

Please take a look and explore the work of these six poets, and the messages for their time in history:

2021: Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb”
2013: Richard Blanco, “One Today”
2009: Elizabeth Alexander, “Praise Song for the Day”
1997: Miller Williams, “Of History and Hope”
1993: Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning”
1961: Robert Frost, “The Gift Outright”

“Wisdom is a living stream, not an icon preserved in a museum. Only when we…”

“Wisdom is a living stream, not an icon preserved in a museum. Only when we find the spring of wisdom in our own life can it flow to future generations.”

—Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk & peace activist

Image from Unsplash by Pickawood

I am often asked by colleagues and clients for a list of my all-time favorite books. Many fellow bloggers create such lists and provide them readily on a yearly basis.

You are most welcome to review the past decade of The Quotable Coach posts to explore the books I reference, but on this occasion, I have an alternative suggestion:

Create your own list of books and other resources that have made the greatest impact in your life. Re-read and review these sources of wisdom and timely advice with your new eyes and greater life experience. If you are like me, you will find these deeper dives to be a treat and discover greater brilliance you missed on your previous readings.

EXERCISE:

Select one book each month this year and make the added effort to discuss and share its wisdom and relevancy with someone of a younger generation. Feel free to reply to this post with the books or resources you select.

“Help the punch move past you.”

“Help the punch move past you.”

—Aikido Saying

Image from Unsplash by That Le Hoang

Do you remember the TV show Kung Fu from the 70s, with David Carradine?

If you do, it might have been both his martial arts mastery as well as his wisdom about life that made the program so popular.

I particularly enjoyed his masterful dance-like moves as he avoided the aggressive punches of his adversaries.

Not getting hit in the first place is a good way to keep standing and step forward into tomorrow.

EXERCISE:

How many punches did you take in 2020?
How many were unavoidable?
How many could you have allowed to move past you, so you could step forward?

“When will you begin that long journey into yourself?”

“When will you begin that long journey into yourself?”

—Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, 13th-century Persian poet and scholar

Image from Unsplash by Nick Fewings

Over the past seven months, I’ve filled my gas tank once, and have driven less than 500 miles. With limited ventures out for only essential resources and services and some retooling to work exclusively from my home office, my long journeys in the outer world have stopped.

With numerous shifts in my daily routine, I have added far more inner journeys through quiet walks, meditation, reading, and writing. In many ways my passion and pursuit of my own growth and development have expanded and deepened more than at any other time in my life.

Taking this time to journey further within has been more rewarding than I ever expected.

EXERCISE:

What are some of the ways you have begun to journey within?

What have you discovered about yourself and your world?

In what way do you intend to go further, to tap your own inner wisdom?

Feel free to reply to this post to share your own efforts and progress in this area.

“Seek council, not opinion.”

“Seek council, not opinion.”

—Greg Reid, Motivational Speaker, Author & Entrepreneur

Image from Unsplash by Ryoji Iwata

Where are you at a crossroad in life or at a point where you need to make an important decision?

Who are the most trusted advisors that have “been there, done that,” who can council you based on their knowledge, experience, and wisdom?

Opinions on most subjects are everywhere, and everyone has one. Many people offering their opinions—although well intended—are not well vetted by sufficient background and objectivity.

How wary are you of the opinionated people in your life?

EXERCISE:

On what personal or professional issue would seeking out experts and following the science be the wisest council to seek?

“The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”

“The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”

—Lin Yutang, 20th Century Chinese inventor, novelist, and philosopher

Image from Unsplash by Faye Cornish

To what degree are you a wisdom seeker?

Would you also describe yourself as an explorer and life-long learner, looking to grasp and understand what makes us and everything around us work?

Given the considerable challenges facing all of us and the world, it is natural to see the need to work harder than ever to hold our ground and not regress and be defeated.

Perhaps instead of life being a series of adding more and more in order to feel better, it may be time for a bit of selective editing in which less is more.

EXERCISE:

Where would limiting or eliminating some of the non-essentials in your life lead you toward greater wisdom?

Feel free to reply to this post with the actions you intend to take.

“What are you here to teach me?”

“What are you here to teach me?”

—Milarepa, 10th Century Buddhist Saint and Teacher

Image from Unsplash by NCI

Thousands of years ago man often looked to the stars and to nature for the wisdom and insight to answer pressing problems.

Looking to the gods or some outside source for reasoning and solutions seemed natural since these external forces seemed so large and powerful.

Today, we often look within ourselves and compare our own answers to others. This can create an Us/Them dynamic, which misses the idea that the totality of the relationship we have within our personal and professional communities have bigger and often better answers to guide us.

Marita Fridjhon, co-owner and CEO of CRR Global, calls this concept The Relationship System. Learn about her work at www.CRRGlobal.com.

EXERCISE:

What are the relationship systems in our world trying to teach us?

What may be the lessons we need to learn from COVID-19, racism, and climate change? What do other relationships systems closer to home – such as work and family – have to teach us?

“On the other side of the door of uncertainty is a room of wisdom.”

“On the other side of the door of uncertainty is a room of wisdom.”

—Chip Conley, American hospitality entrepreneur, author, and speaker

I recently reviewed Humble Inquiry by Edgar Schein. The subtitle is: The Gentle Art of Asking instead of Telling, which as a coach, had a great deal of appeal to me. Some key take-aways include:

  • Asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, and building a relationship on sincere interest in the other person.
  • When we tell instead of ask, we can sometimes offend or demean others.
  • Barriers to humble inquiry include status, rank, and the roles we play in our professional and personal communities.

We can all practice this important skill by slowing down, becoming more mindful and aware of our interactions and our surroundings.

EXERCISE:

Consider exploring Humble Inquiry – The Gentle Art of More Asking and Less Telling as a door to greater wisdom for yourself.

“Opportunities are seldom labeled.”

“Opportunities are seldom labeled.”

—John A. Shedd, 19th Century American author and professor

For most of my life, I have been fascinated by the subject of personal and professional success.

I’ve read hundreds of books, attended dozens of seminars and conferences, and can hardly count the number of blog posts, podcasts, and TED talks I’ve explored.

In his book, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, Eric Barker digs into the science of success, to mess a bit with the conventional and unconventional wisdom on this subject.

One seemingly universal tenet of success does, however, point to the idea of taking massive action and trying many things along the way to stir up far more possibilities and opportunities to pursue.

EXERCISE:

To what degree are you waiting or being too passive, hoping for an opportunity to reveal itself?

Where would taking far more action and trying many more things help you bark up and climb the right trees for you?