7 Questions I Asked Myself

Large collection of metal bowls full of herbs and spices


Even coaches need coaching.

Maybe you find that amusing, or even startling. But the truth is: Growth never stops.

I will never, ever be finished understanding, knowing – and surprising – myself. It’s a life’s work.

And, to be honest, sometimes all the options available in our lives are a little overwhelming. How do we decide where to focus, and what to say no to?

To figure that out, a Friday ago I sat down and asked myself some questions which served to focus and streamline my energy. Maybe you can benefit from asking yourself the same questions, too.

1.  What do I no longer want to do? What no longer feels right?

Now, in my case, I made two columns – the left one was affirmative, and listed what I want to keep. The right column was a list of 14 things that no longer feel right, such as “stupid rules”, “my wardrobe” and “eating crap”. Your list might be a wee bit different. Or not.

2. What needs to be cleaned up? Literally, and figuratively?

Again, two columns: Literally and Figuratively. In “Literally”, I put down “hall closet” (tell me – how’s your hall closet, hmmn?), and “garden” – so feel free to identify those niggling areas of your world which physically could stand a good cleaning or de-cluttering. In the “Figurative” realm, I’ll bet you have a couple of areas to address. I know I certainly do.

3. What do I want that I don’t have?

Oh, boy. This is a rich area. Don’t edit yourself here – let your psyche run wild. Your inner knowing will tell you things that may suprise you – such as, “I want support” and suddenly you’ll find yourself looking for a new calendar, a cleaning crew, an assistant, and a pool boy named Paolo (even though you have no pool). It is amazing what comes up.

4. What are my beliefs around (work/love/money/life – whatever you feel is most troublesome in your day)?

This is a huge area that holds people back. We have hard and fast beliefs in the most stuck areas of our lives, and it’s really only those beliefs that hold us back. “Work must be hard”, for example. Or, “all the good ones are taken”. And, “people like us never get ahead”. Writing those beliefs down on paper is a great way to begin to examine them to see if they are at all true. And most of them…aren’t. They’re just in the way of our happiness and success, so collect them, examine them and drop ‘em like they’re hot – so you can get moving toward what you want.

5. How can I be more grateful every day?

Research shows that focusing on what is working and expressing gratitude about it creates a sense of well-being which powerfully impacts health, work and relationships. So I came up with five things I can do daily to be in the gratitude zone: set positive intentions; be mindful and notice good things; say it out loud to someone else or myself; smile; and, thank people. Easy peasy, huh? What will you come up with?

6.  How can I nurture myself better?

Sleep. Feed myself well. Stretch physically and mentally. Learn daily. See doctors as needed. Stand up straight.

That last one there sounds small, but when I stand up straight I feel better. Stronger. Like I’m ready for anything.

So I’m going to try to stand up straight more often, because I like feeling like Wonder Woman. [This is the sole reason I wear bracelets, sugar.]

I had a #7, too.

7. What books need writing?

Now, this may or may not be a question you ask yourself. But asking it in this way instead of “what book can I write that will make me a ton of money?” allows real ideas to come forward. Ideas that will serve people, have an impact and allow you to write a book that’s memorable. And might just make you some money. Of course, I came up with six ideas – you know me. And now it’s time for sifting and shifting, and something great will emerge (notice the positivity? Yay, me! I am already doing #6!).

Now comes the fun part. Having asked myself these questions, and answering them honestly and openly, I came up with a set of to-dos that feel focused, efficient and purposeful.

I have a vision.

A plan.

A purpose.

All from seven little questions.

How are you going to answer them?




Noticed a little bit of conversation these days about politics? Not only in the U.S., where we seem to have a permanent presidential campaign in place, but also in Europe, in Asia, in South America…

Commentators in this country continue to refer to the nation suffering from a “crisis of confidence”. Maybe that’s true.

Maybe we are tired of the law partner who pockets a record bonus but tells the associates and support staff that there’s no money – again this year – for their raise.

Perhaps we’re too used to hearing about the minister with the $100,000 Mercedes parked in front of his mansion.

It could be that we’re fed up with hearing that people are going to “change Washington” and yet nothing ends up getting done.

We see real incongruence between what we expect and what we get, and that’s precisely how our confidence is undermined.

That’s a word I’m loving these days: Congruence.

It’s when things line up. It’s when what you see is what you get.

Congruence is truth.

Congruence is whole.

Congruence makes sense.

And a person who is congruent – they mean what they say, and predictably do what they say they will – is truly a person of integrity. Pundits may see the world suffering from a crisis of confidence, but I’d call it an Integrity Deficit.

Somehow or other, many leaders – some of them self-appointed – seem to have forgotten that people eagerly follow those with integrity. Whether you’re a politician, an office manager or a life coach, being a person who means what she says, and does what she says she’s going to do, is the person who’s really successful.

Now, we all know people whose integrity is, shall we say, “compromised”, and yet they seem to thrive and maybe even get ahead.

That’s an incongruence right there, huh?

But what goes around comes around, and I have never, ever met an incongruent person whose personal narrative ends well. Have you?

That karma thing is plenty powerful.

And it always works.

So, now is as good a time as any to assess your own personal integrity.

  • Do you ever say yes when you mean no, and wince about it shortly after the words have left your mouth?
  • Do you consistently miss deadlines and break commitments?
  • Do you fib about having sent in the payment, when really you haven’t even written the check yet?
  • Do you concoct a story about where you just were, rather than admitting what you were really doing?

OK, you’re human.  But do you feel good about this stuff? Or does it add to your stress?  Create overwhelm?

Then get congruent, baby.

Start in a small way.  Start by making only those commitments you know you can meet. And then acknowledge to yourself that you did what you said you’d do. Maybe even give yourself a little reward for that.

And, make an effort to really watch your words.  In The Four Agreements, author Don Miguel Ruiz suggests that one way to insure happiness is to:

“Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”

I hear you – truth and love in the workplace? Just for a minute, drop your skepticism and think about it a different way.

I know from experience that shifting toward integrity will profoundly change your work experience. It will profoundly change your marriage, your parenting, your friendships and everything else in your world.

Integrity changes anything it touches for the better.

That is the truth.

You know, I have a dream.  I dream that one day our global crisis of confidence will be replaced with the peace, certainty and progress that integrity engenders.

But that will only happen – our leaders will only become people of integrity – if we, first, become so ourselves.


The Point of The Big Picture


It’s a crazy world out there.

Weird weather, uncertain employment, foreclosures, freak accidents.

It’s as if we’re all leaning forward, tensed in advance of whatever might hit us next, in a collective anxious anticipation.

I don’t know about you, but I find it utterly exhausting.  Like living under seige.

Right now there’s a lot of urgency and drama in the world – unemployment is stubbornly up: “I could lose my job”. Foreclosures surge: “I could lose my house.” Stock market is off: “My retirement savings are half what they used to be.” Employers pass surging health care costs to employees: “I am one major illness away from disaster.”

We’re so in the moment with all the bad news that we cannot even begin to think about anything else. We dwell, we ruminate, we get stuck in all the negative. It feels crappy.

But there’s a cure, an antidote. A way to start feeling better, regardless of the uncertainty.

Here’s what you do: have a vision. An idea of the big picture. A sense of how you’re contributing to some greater purpose and mission.

Now, I’ve written about this before – What’s The Point? – and suggested that it’s important to never confuse urgency and drama with meaning and purpose. We’ve got too much of the former right now, when what we really need is more of the latter.

Recently, the Washington Post had an interesting item on leadership. Written by Sally Blount, Dean of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, it talks about how to create worker satisfaction. Blount says: “…people in organizations are hungry for meaning, for understanding of how what they do each day contributes to a greater purpose, a greater mission.”

Excellent point. And equally applicable to individuals. Meaning: you.

Examine how what you do every day contributes to a greater purpose, a greater mission. By doing what you do each day, are you supporting your spouse, your children, your parents, an ill sibling? In the course of your day, whose lives are you making better? How does what you do make a difference?

And if it doesn’t… or if you feel like it doesn’t…

Start making a contribution.

Volunteer somewhere that matters. That’s a great thing. But you may not feel like you have the time. OK, then. Be a courteous driver. Open doors for people. Be nice to the kid riding his bike in your driveway. Mow your lawn. Make repairs where you live. Take charge of stuff rather than letting stuff take charge of you.

Dare to care about something.

Sally Blount suggests that organizations “provide a sense of purpose, a narrative for what that organization stands for and how it contributes to making the world a better place.”

Look at your own big picture, then. And craft your own narrative about who you are and what you stand for.

And hold fast to that amidst all of the hullabaloo and uncertainty.

Your Wish Is My Command

Big happy thanks to each of you who took the time to answer my short survey this week. There’s still time if you’d like to give me your thoughts, so click here to go to the survey.

I learned a lot from you all.

First, more of you would like an opportunity to work with me.

You’d like lower cost programs, designed to help you with your career or your business.

You’d like self-paced programs.

You’d like to see me collaborate more.

Which is really cool, because that’s the same stuff I’ve been thinking about.

So, let me make two announcements which will go right to the heart of the matter.

First, a very low-cost/high reward opportunity. You may remember the November free call where I talked with my friend, Good Vibe Coach Jeannette Maw, about aligning values, priorities and intentions. It was one of the most downloaded classes either Jeannette or I have ever seen. So, we figured, hey, why not do more of that?

We’ve decided to do a monthly conversation on a subject of interest – the first one will be on that perennial Big Issue: money. If you want to listen live and have the chance to ask questions, it’s a monthly subscription of only $9. And, you’ll get the recording, too. If you just want the recording, it’s $5. Simple. Easy. Fun. Want to sign up? Go right to: Listen In On Michele and Jeannette.

Second, so many of you are in the place where you need to reinvent your lives… You’re looking at a Second Act that may just change your life, and it’s kind of scary and there’s no roadmap and how’s it all going to work out? Good news, I can help you there.

My friend, author Mary Beth Sammons, wrote the best-selling Second Acts That Change Lives: Making A Difference In The World.  We’ve adapted the material from her book – and added tools and tactics from my coaching practice – to create a fabulous month-long telecourse will to help turn the “someday I’d love to” into “today I will”. For more information, check out: Second Acts That Change Your Life.

And, because we know many of you want to launch your second act by writing a blog… we’re offering two classes on blogging. Mary Beth is a fantastic editor and writer – she was a columnist at the Chicago Tribune and has written for magazines, and online outlets like MORE.com, CarePages.com, and BettyConfidential.com. She’s a pro and I’m happy to partner with her. Info on the blog classes can also be found at Second Acts That Change Your Life.

One more thing I’m working on in response to your requests – I’m preparing some workbooks for you to help you solve issues you face in your career. How to deal with difficult people. How to do a job search. How to ace an interview. How to get clear. How to really know what it is you want. I’ll be rolling these out as soon as I complete them. Stay tuned for more information, willya?

Bottom line: I am so grateful for each of you who read what I write and take the time to tell me what it is that you really want. I promise I will do my best to deliver. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll create some stuff that will surprise you, delight you and make you think.

Oh, and get you to a very happy, purposeful life, too.

What’s The Point?

This one is coming from the heart.

Last week, after a particularly challenging coaching session with a client, I wrote this on my Facebook page:

“Never confuse urgency and drama with meaning and purpose.”

So many people are focused on “winning” and “making a mark” and “getting” and being “Type A” and, then ask me to help them find out why they are so unhappy and unfulfilled and struggle to identify their life’s purpose.

I can tell you something. They’re making things a lot more difficult than they need to be.

Because I believe every human being has the exact same purpose in life.

It’s to be a force for good in the world.


And although we share the same purpose, we derive our own personal meaning from how we decide to do good.

One person might be a force for good in the world by teaching.  Another by cleaning streets.  One might find meaning in helping people become prosperous, another in curing illness.

The overarching purpose is to do something good. In large and small ways.  All the time.

I am never doing good if I cheat you, scam you or otherwise take advantage of you.  Never.  Not in business.  Not ever. People who conduct their business this way may find that they get a big score at the outset, but rarely ever create a lasting, truly lucrative business.  See Bernie Madoff, for example.  You do better when you’re focused on doing good.

Now, tyrants and despots often justify their bad acts by saying they are acting in the “common good.”  Ethnic cleansing, silencing dissidents and controlling the media comes to mind.  You can probably come up with some other examples yourself.

But when anyone is hurt, good is not being done.  When harm is done, we’re acting in direct opposition to our life’s purpose, so it’s no wonder that tyrants and despots often wind up being hung by their ankles with body parts stuffed into their mouths by the very people they were trying to “protect.”

Now we know what meaning and purpose are all about — let’s look at urgency and drama.

Just because something’s urgent, doesn’t mean it’s important. If I get a flat tire, it’s urgent but it’s not really important.  I can pull over, jack up the car, replace the tire, go on my way.

Or I can choose to make it a drama.  Boy howdy, can I. How about I call my brother, my sister-in-law, my neighbor, my son, my best friend and the local radio station to announce that I Have A Flat Tire and invite them to join the pity party with me?  I can then regale the folks at the supermarket, the dry cleaners and the smoothie shop with the story of My Flat Tire. Watch me work the story at the office!

I get all wrapped around the axle.

And a twenty minute inconsequential period extends into hours, maybe even weeks of drama.

Which takes time and attention away from my real life’s purpose.

Cuz I’m not doing good.  In fact, I’m just creating needless motion that uses up my energy.

Which is what I hear from my coaching clients.  For years and years they have allowed urgent matters to masquerade as their life’s purpose, and accepted drama as a substitute for meaning.  They’re addicted to the  high fructose corn syrup adrenaline rush of drama, and have completely lost their taste for the true sweetness of real meaning.

When you’re hip to your life’s purpose of being a force for good, you can find meaning in the smallest things.  Like holding the door open for the pregnant woman pushing a stroller.  Like giving up your seat on the subway to the elderly man with the cane. Like smiling. Easy things you can do every day.

Big things can hold great meaning, too.  Like mentoring that young man at work.  Or being generous with well-deserved raises to your best people despite the economy.  Or finding a vaccine for cancer.  Challenging, time consuming things that can take a whole career to accomplish are ripe with meaning.

Since this is my own personal manifesto, let me go a step further.  I believe you already know this.  I believe people are, at their core, good.  We only get stuck when we get in our own way and confuse urgency and drama with meaning and purpose.  So step out of the way. Deal with that which is urgent, because we all face things that need attention.  But attend without drama.  Fulfilling your life purpose means being who it is you are at your core — good old you — and doing what good you can in each moment.