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.

EXERCISE:

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.

EXERCISE:

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.

EXERCISE:

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

“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.”

“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.”

-Walter Cronkite, anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years

Photo from Flicrk by NASAHQPhoto

Photo from Flickr by NASAHQPhoto

Perhaps no television news anchor has ever or will ever be respected and trusted as much as Walter Cronkite. Millions of people watched him each evening without fail, knowing his reports of the news would be objective, balanced, and trustworthy. As an inquisitive and thorough reporter, he knew there were always numerous views and perspectives on every topic, and successfully rooted out and communicated the truth — with candor and his unique brand of professionalism and humanity.

EXERCISE

How can you demonstrate your openness and receptivity to the many sides of the stories you hear professionally and personally, to do an even better job of seeking and discovering the truth you desire?

“You have to believe in yourself.”

“You have to believe in yourself.”

– Sun Tzu, Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher

Photo from Flickr by Jennifer

Photo from Flickr by Jennifer

I am writing this post on a Sunday – the day many people practice their faith by attending church or another religious institution.

Many faiths believe that God created man and at the same time gave us free will and the ability to create our own lives through our beliefs and actions.

Central to our ability to manifest our world, Sun Tzu might suggest through this quote that a deeply held faith and belief in ourselves is essential.

EXERCISE:

Take note of the areas in your life where you have the strongest belief and faith, and notice what results you have achieved.

How would an even greater belief in yourself make the biggest difference in your personal or professional life?

“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.

Exercise:

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.

“A single conversation with a wise man is worth a month’s study of books.”

“A single conversation with a wise man is worth a month’s study of books.”

– Chinese Proverb

Wisdom has been defined as a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events, or situations resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments, and actions in keeping with this understanding.

Wisdom embraces fundamental human principles, including the capacity to reason, the use of knowledge, and the ability to determine one’s path forward. The coaching process often ventures deeply into the realm of wisdom – for both the students and the coaches.

Coaching, like the reading of great books (which as you know, I highly recommend) results in the enhanced creativity, insight and collaboration that happens when two minds focus together on a single matter.

Exercise:

Create a short list of wise men and women that currently support or could support your personal mastery journey.

Select at least one individual in your world who would benefit from the contribution of your wisdom.

The Wise Man Questions

“The wise man questions himself; the fool, others.”

– Henri Arnold, cartoonist

question-mark

One of the greatest tools in a coach’s toolbox is the question. Answers to open-ended questions—those that begin with who, what, where, when, why and how—provide a level of depth and significance from well below the surface, often into new territories of awareness and insight.

I disagree with Henri Arnold’s statement that fools ask such questions of others: after all, I’d be calling all coaches fools! I do however believe that when coaches also ask these same questions of themselves, they often enhance their own development considerably. Arnold might say that a coach without their own internal or external coach is a fool.

Exercise:

Pay attention to the types of questions you and your colleagues, friends, and family members ask one another during the day. Which ones enhance your life journey, and propel you toward wisdom?

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”

—Proverbs 12:15, The Bible

Image of a man listening with ear buds

Photo from Unsplash by Alex Blăjan

Have you ever had someone say, “I know” when you share something with them? Doesn’t that just drive you crazy?

Or, worse, how often do others interrupt you to fill in the remainder of what they were expecting you to say?

Both of these situations indicate that others are not listening – or that they’re simply far more interested in listening to their own favorite subject: themselves.

When we fully listen to others and truly consider their ideas, we expand our world view beyond our individual perspectives.

Exercise:

Where in your life can you develop greater wisdom, by listening more fully to others?

 

#89: “To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher

What does it mean to live a good hour? It could mean:

  • Being fully present to each person and fully engaged in each experience.
  • Living in the moment, not dwelling on the past or daydreaming solely of the future.
  • Living a life of meaning and purpose beyond your own concerns.
  • Being generous and sharing your special gifts and resources with others.
  • Learning and growing in some way each day, and sharing your knowledge and life experiences with others.

Exercise:

What does living a good hour include for you?

What next step will you take to move toward greater wisdom?

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