Saturday, September 16, 2023

You Have A Coach—Now What? How To Maximize Your Coaching Journey

Originally published on 

You got a coach. Congratulations! Whether as part of your own initiative or as part of your employer’s development program, you are about to embark on what could be a career-changing or even life-changing experience.

Your upcoming first session is set up, and you are ready to go. But do you know how to get the most out of this experience and not squander the opportunity to create real change in your life? Here is a list of ways you can help ensure that you maximize every minute of your coaching journey:

1. Take good notes.

Start a coaching journal. Take good notes during, right after and between sessions. This isn’t to capture what the coach has to say. Quite the opposite: It is to ensure that you memorialize your insights and wisdom that come to light during the coaching process.

While the “dots” often connect, they don’t necessarily connect immediately. What seems like something mildly interesting in the beginning of the coaching process may turn into a life-changing awareness later on. Having a record of your progress, important moments and discoveries will help you solidify the steps to take to achieve your goals.

Give it your best shot, and fully engage in the process. What does that mean in addition to taking good notes? Turn off email, instant messaging and phone notifications during coaching sessions. You are investing in yourself. Everyone else can wait. Follow up on any action items—“to think’s” or “to do’s”—after each session. Think about what you’d like to accomplish before each session. Share feedback on the coaching process with your coach on an ongoing basis.

3. Be transparent and direct.

In coaching, pretending to be anything you are not does not lead to productive outcomes. Unless there is a genuine reason you don’t trust your coach and don’t feel comfortable sharing (and if that’s the case, you need a different coach), be direct and honest about your motivations, fears, hopes, dreams and challenges. By doing so, you’ll accelerate your own opportunities for realizations and aha moments.

4. Stay open-minded and curious.

It is OK and, in fact, necessary to let your proverbial defenses down. The coach’s objective is not to judge you but rather to support your growth and development. It is possible to feel out of sorts and a bit outside of your comfort zone during the exploration of new ways of being, thinking, and behaving. Good coaches have the courage to notice the patterns and to call them out. Allow space for it. Stay curious about the process and open to what may show up.

5. Remember: It’s your life.

A coach’s job is not to provide advice or share their own experiences. Good coaches know that each person is unique and whole and has everything they need within themselves to thrive. According to the International Coaching Federation definition, coaching is “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” It is your life. You have the agency and prerogative to make your own decisions and choices while partnering with the coach to achieve your goals more effectively, faster and with a higher degree of confidence.

Ultimately, while a good coach can effectively partner with you to help you level up in many areas of your life, you are the one who needs to do the work. So take ownership of your coaching journey and make the most of this opportunity for real change and growth.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Wise notes and quotes 2021

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common-this is my symphony.”

~ William Henry Channing


“Humor is tragedy plus time."

~ Speaking of Psychology Podcast. "What makes things funny?" with Peter McGraw, Ph.D. 


“I had broken the fundamental rule of psychotherapy. Do not strip away a patient’s defenses if you have nothing better to offer in their stead.”

~Irvin Yalom, “Momma and the meaning of life: tales of psychotherapy.”


 “Most of us take pride in our knowledge and expertise and in staying true to our beliefs and opinions. That makes sense in a stable world where we get rewarded for conviction in our ideas. The problem is that we live in the rapidly changing world where we need to spend as much time rethinking as we do thinking.”

~ Adam Grant, “Think again: the power of knowing what you don’t know”  


 “He wouldn’t know what to feel until he knew what to think.”

~ Toni Morrison, “The Song of Solomon”


 “Listen, the problem isn’t how hard you’re working, it’s that you are working on things that aren’t right for you. Your goals in motivations aren’t harmonizing with your deepest truths.”

 “Now, I have something scary to tell you. You don’t have that much time left to live. Whether it’s five years or 55, it’s not all that long. You have no time waste on suffering. No time to keep torturing your nature to serve your culture. The time for integrity is now.”

“Every day you make thousands of tiny decisions about what to do with your time. Every single choice is a chance to turn toward the life you really want. Repeatedly putting a little less time into what you don’t love, and a little more into what you do love, Is your next step on your way to integrity.”

“What would you do if you were absolutely free?”

~ Martha Beck, “The way of integrity: finding the path to your true self.”  


“Like fighting an addiction, being an anti-racist requires a persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination.”

 “One of racism’s harms is the way the falls on unexceptional black person who is asked to be extraordinary just to survive.”

~ Ibram X. Kendi, “How to be an antiracist”


 “The moral arc of our life bends toward meaning, especially if we bend it that way with all our damn might.”

 “If you are uncomfortable—in deep pain, angry, yearning, confused—you don’t have a problem, you have a life. Being human is not hard because you’re doing it wrong, it’s hard because you’re doing it right. You will never change the fact that being human is hard, so you must change your idea that it was ever supposed to be easy.”

~ Glennon Doyle, “Untamed”


“Your past is not an excuse but it is an explanation”

~ Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce D. Perry, “What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing.”


 “Most of us most of the time live with unquestioned belief that the world looks as does because that’s the way it is. There’s one small step from this belief to another: other people view the world much the way I do. These beliefs which have been called naive realism are essential to the sense of a reality we share with other people. We rarely question these beliefs. We hold a single interpretation of the world around us at any single time. And we normally invest very little effort in creating plausible alternatives to it. One interpretation is enough and we experiences as truth. We do not go through life imagining alternative ways to see what we see.”

~ Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass R. Sunstein, “Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment”


 “From a purely biological perspective, we humans are feeling creatures who think, rather than thinking creatures who feel. Neuroanatomically you and I are programmed to feel our emotions. And any attempt we may make to bypass or ignore what we are feeling may have the power to derail our mental health at this most fundamental level.”

“Anger is an energetic response to pain.”

~ Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD, “Whole Brain Living: The Anatomy of Choice and the Four Characters That Drive Our Life”


 “You have a burden. The richer the soil, the more unforgivable the failure to cultivate it.”

~ Irvin Yalom, “When Nietzsche wept”


Chinese parable - Is it good? is in bad? Maybe so, Maybe not. We’ll see. | Dr. Marlo Archer


Alexithymia “emotional blindness”: An inability to identify and describe one’s feelings or emotions

~ American Psychology Association dictionary


A conversation between Pico Iyer and Elizabeth Gilbert on what it means to retreat into smallness, and grapple with a complex understanding of hope, as the world continues to overwhelm.

~ OnBeing podcast  


“I recognized winter. I saw it coming (a mile off, since you ask), and I looked it in the eye. I greeted it and let it in. I had some tricks up my sleeve, you see. I've learned them the hard way. When I started feeling the drag of winter, I began to treat myself like a favored child: with kindness and love. I assumed my needs were reasonable and that my feelings were signals of something important. I kept myself well fed and made sure I was getting enough sleep. I took myself for walks in the fresh air and spent time doing things that soothed me. I asked myself: What is this winter all about? I asked myself: What change is coming?”

“Doing those deeply unfashionable things—slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting—is a radical act now, but it is essential. This is a crossroads we all know, a moment when you need to shed a skin. If you do, you’ll expose all those painful nerve endings and feel so raw that you’ll need to take care of yourself for a while. If you don’t, then that skin will harden around you.”

 “If we don’t allow ourselves the fundamental honesty of our own sadness, then we miss an important cue to adapt. We seem to be living in an age when we’re bombarded with entreaties to be happy, but we’re suffering from an avalanche of depression. We’re urged to stop sweating the small stuff, yet we’re chronically anxious. I often wonder if these are just normal feelings that become monstrous when they’re denied. A great deal of life will always suck. There will be moments when we’re riding high and moments when we can’t bear to get out of bed. Both are normal. Both in fact require a little perspective.”

 “When it’s really cold, the snow makes a lovely noise underfoot, and it’s like the air is full of stars.”

“This isn’t about you getting fixed,” he said. “This is about you living the best life you can with the parameters that you have.”

~ Katherine May, “Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times”


 “Enlightenment is the supreme tolerance of cognitive dissonance.”

~ Robert Thurman

Also, a great interview with Robert Thurman on the “10% happier” Podcast  


“In this world we walk on the roof of hell gathering blossoms”

~ Kobayashi Issa

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Ready For A Career Upgrade? Tidy Up Your Professional Life First

 This article was originally published on - click here to access

Cleanliness, simplicity, the absence of clutter, everything has its place: Those are all qualities of a well-organized physical space. Why does it feel good to be in a clean, well-organized space? Part of its magic is that it allows us to focus on the important things.

But what about our professional lives? If you were asked right now, “How is your professional life?” would you be able to use words such as alignment, clarity, certainty, intentionality and purposefulness?

Currently, there is a lot in the news about the phenomenon of the “Great Resignation,” the opportunities it may bring to the individuals wanting to make a career pivot as well as the driving forces behind so many people thinking of or making a career change. What’s important to remember is that as we switch companies, jobs and careers, the one constant remains — we bring ourselves everywhere we go, whether we realize it or not.

It is important from time to time to take stock of where we are professionally, to re-establish and reconfirm what is important to us and why it is important (or to do it for the first time, if you are just entering the workforce). 

Will you know if an opportunity knocks on your door whether this is something you want or something you “should” want? Will you be aware of what’s important to you in your next professional move? Will you bring the best version of yourself to that new opportunity?

There is a way to gain a feeling of tidiness and clarity as you take yourself to the next level of your career development. Let me introduce you to the professional organization model I call “O.C.C.A.,” which stands for organize, connect, create and act. The questions are meant to prompt deep reflection and, ultimately, action.


• Yourself

Do you have a vision for what your “ideal” professional life looks like? Perhaps you have just the beginnings of that vision. Time to polish it up and put it down on paper.

Take stock of your key professional artifacts. These may include your résumé, professional portfolio (e.g., your publications), your social platforms (LinkedIn profile), your website, etc.

• Your Time

How are you using your time currently? If you are truly honest with yourself, are you wasting a lot of it? Learn how to make a professional to-do list (not a wish list).

• Your Space

Do you have physical space where you can think and work? Is it organized appropriately? What tweaks can you make to transform it into an inviting space for creating, writing, thinking, etc.?

• Your Image

Do your outward appearance and internal self-image help or hinder your success? Give them some thought, and take steps accordingly.

• Your Support And Resources

What are you reading these days? What have you learned recently that made an impact on your line of thinking?

Who is on the board of your professional development advisors?

Who is giving you concrete and consistent feedback with candor and caring?

How are you taking care of yourself and paying attention to the state of your well-being?


• Connect with the world.

Do you know people who are highly successful in your field? How do they do it? How can you meet them and learn from them?

Recognize that knowing people in (and out of) your field and knowing about them is critical to your success.

• Use LinkedIn and your online presence wisely.

What will come up when someone googles your name? Try it, and see if the results correlate with your intentions.

Are you on LinkedIn? Do you maximize your presence there?

Do you have a website? Other online, social media presence? What story would someone conjure up about you if they were able to see all of it?


• Opportunities

Think about the people who are important to you (professionally and personally). What can you do to be helpful to them? What opportunities can you create for them? It seems counterintuitive, but shifting focus away from your own needs and toward helping others can — and often does — lead to new opportunities.

• Visibility

Are you maximizing each professional event (virtual or in person) as an opportunity to meet new people?

• Positive Experiences

Are you following up and following through on your promises?

What would the last person you interacted with professionally say about you?


You haven’t really decided until you take action. Actions always speak louder than words. What will you do today to tidy up your professional life and take it to the next level?

• Update your LinkedIn profile?

• Allow yourself to imagine what “ideal” looks like?

• Find a career advisor or a coach?

• Organize your professional image?

• Ask for feedback?

It may also be helpful to add an “R,” which stands for "repeat," at the end of O.C.C.A., because this process is ongoing and should be repeated, hence O.C.C.A.R.


Schedule a periodic check-in and ask yourself how you are doing personally and professionally.

• What, if anything, feels disorganized in your professional life?

• Is there anything that you’ve recently read or learned about that you want to dig deeper into?

• With whom do you want to connect more, and how?

• What practical actions can you take so that your future self will thank you?

We don’t have much control of external forces, but we do have control of our own creativity, imagination and thinking and the way we interact with the external world and react to the circumstances of our lives. There is value in tidying up your professional life as a way to exercise your own sense of agency and create clarity of focus in the sea of uncertainty and potential opportunity.



Sunday, August 22, 2021

A Ph.D. And A Pandemic: Lessons Learned On Boldly Pursuing Your Interests Despite Uncertainty

A Ph.D. And A Pandemic: Lessons Learned On Boldly Pursuing Your Interests Despite Uncertainty

This article was originally published on - click here to access 

In December 2019, I was accepted into a psychology Ph.D. program. I knew, of course, that this pursuit would be challenging. But I did not realize that the first days of my online classes would coincide with the start of a full-blown “once in a century” pandemic.

And yet, as I write this article, I am in my second year of doctoral studies, in the middle of my ninth course and working on the literature review of my future Ph.D. research dissertation. My grandmother, who was a doctor and a woman of strong character and wisdom, used to tell me: “Every experience you have and every bit of knowledge you acquire carries a lesson. Unwrap its deeper meaning.”

So, what has pursuing a Ph.D. taught me (so far) about myself, life and thriving in times of uncertainty? I am sharing a few of my own “aha” moments, along with some questions, that I hope inspire others to boldly pursue their interests — especially if they seem slightly (or wildly) far-fetched.

There is no perfect time to pursue anything worthwhile.

I am convinced, now more than ever, that it's better to just take the plunge and do the thing you want to do. It is better to regret some things you’ve done rather than regret the dreams that remain forever in your imagination. In my experience, there is no neatly overlapping Venn diagram in which the circle of “what you want to do” merges with the circle of “perfect timing” to form a region of “incredible opportunities materializing” right smack in the middle. In fact, research shows that people tend to regret “inaction” (things they wanted to do but didn’t) more than “action” (things they did).

So, if you’re thinking “I wish I could pursue my interest in ______,” there is no point in waiting. Although the pandemic has created an especially challenging time, we must still make our best efforts to live life to the fullest and maximize our potential.

Question to explore: What is worth your time and effort?

Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Just start wherever you are now, with the smallest step you can manage.

Learning and following your curiosity can generate a sense of hope.

growth mindset is a belief that you are not “fixed” and that you can grow and develop your intellect and abilities. By design, the pursuit of new skills and knowledge places you in the current moment and inspires hope of a better future. Learning has a certain kind of regenerative quality, and following something that interests you can equate to a sense of hope and optimism. And who couldn’t use some of that?

Questions to explore: What do you want to learn or experience that could be truly revitalizing for you? What could generate a sense of hope in you?

Write these ideas down, mull them over and then do something about your new discoveries.

Doubt is fine as long it does not stop you from doing what you want.

Questioning your aptitude and capabilities is normal, especially if you are pursuing a difficult endeavor. But don’t allow doubt to dominate your life. Doubt can sneakily morph into a crippling fear of failure. If this happens, keep moving, even if it means taking baby steps toward your goals or, better yet, toward your curiosity. One of my favorite artists, Georgia O'Keeffe is often credited with saying, “I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

Question to explore: What are you willing to do through fear?

Don’t concern yourself about “what people will think."

Martha Beck, author and coach, says it's important to “let yourself be quirky” by living a life of integrity that is authentically yours. No matter what you decide to do — whether it’s pursuing a new professional path, learning to knit or entering a doctoral program — it may appear strange to others. You might hear statements like “How will you find the time?” or “Isn’t it beyond your domain of expertise?” or “Why would you want to take on so much work?” or “That’s so impractical.” And that’s OK! Let them wonder. You do you.

Research shows that our worries about what other people think about us is overblown and we “overestimate the impact of our failures, shortcomings and mishaps.” Most people are too busy worrying about themselves to think about you. So, instead, spend your time focused inward.

Questions to explore: What are you yearning to know more about? What is your curiosity leading you to? How might answers to these questions change your life?

If your inner compass is pointing you to recalibrate your direction, don’t ignore it.

Many people are reexamining their lives. Many feel desperately unfulfilled by their work and relationships. A recent TIME article proclaimed that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a widespread existential crisis. If you are feeling the urge to rethink, reimagine and reexamine your life, work or relationships, don’t ignore it. Instead, lean into the sense of ambiguity.

Questions to explore: What does a well-lived, successful life mean to you? What are you uniquely capable of doing to make this world a better place?

Once you have settled on a path, do the work.

No matter what you are pursuing, whether it’s ballroom dancing or better parenting skills or a degree in psychology (or all three at the same time), it’s going to be hard and messy. It will require you to shake off your self-critic, be flexible and keep showing up to make things happen. But, there is something life-affirming in a sense of accomplishment. It can pull you into the new orbit of satisfaction and even pleasure. Just imagine the stars that will align and the constellations they will form.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Top Four Insights From Psychology That Every Modern Leader Should Know (originally published on

This article was originally published on - click here to access 

Lately, the period of change and crisis seems to be never-ending. While it is a concept that has been around in academic circles since the late '80s, VUCA, an acronym that stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, has turned into a nearly constant phenomenon. Leaders everywhere are faced with new challenges, and the word "unprecedented" (fill in the blank: circumstances, pandemic, climate change or technology disruption) continues to be a staple in our vocabulary.

Forced to improvise — and with new demands of their time and skills, testing their emotional, spiritual and sometimes physical limits — leaders can look to psychology to offer them perspectives to their many pressing questions and dilemmas.

Here are some research-backed concepts that can provide great insights to leaders, those who are determined to not only make it through the VUCA world we currently inhabit but also succeed in it and leave it in better shape for future generations.

1. Fundamental Attribution Error

Attribution error theory was developed by Lee Ross. The main conclusion of his research was that people have a self-serving tendency to attribute others' behaviors to internal, innate characteristics — in contrast, people attribute their own behaviors to external circumstances. What does this mean? Simply put, the fundamental attribution error is thinking that "people do bad things because they are inherently bad people," thus under-emphasizing situational, contextual reasons for the behavior of others. While simultaneously explaining our own behavior by the external circumstances as opposed to our inherent qualities, "I lashed out in the meeting because it had been a long day and I was tired."

What could managers learn from this research?

Managers can slow down the automatic judgments and question their impulses to avoid, quite literally, making a fundamental error in their judgment. When tempted to "explain" other people's behavior by saying things like "she is just lazy" or "he will never gain enough maturity to lead a team because of his laid back personality," leaders can pause to consider other contributing external circumstances as well as their own role (conscious and unconscious) in the situation.

2. Self-Efficacy

Albert Bandura described self-efficacy as a belief in one's own "capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments." Self-efficacy equates to a sense of confidence in your own abilities to achieve your goals and to get things done. It might sound something like this: "Hmm, this is a tricky problem. But I am confident that I can figure it out. I will find the time and resources — both internal and extrinsic — to make things happen as I imagine them." Bandura found that this attitude makes a significant difference in people's sense of optimism and is a strong predictor of what people are ultimately able to accomplish.

How can managers evoke a sense of self-efficacy in the people they lead?

Team members with a high degree of self-efficacy are resourceful, more optimistic and develop new skills more easily because they are confident that they can succeed. Instead of solely focusing on corrective feedback, leaders can spend time lifting their team members up by coaching them to grow their strengths.

It also helps to genuinely believe in other's potential and to demonstrate it by encouraging self-management, trusting team members to set their own goals and by empowering them to tackle thorny challenges independently.

3. Active-Constructive Responding

The concept of active-constructive responding was developed by psychologist Shelly Gable and is a communication style that begins with fully absorbing what the person is saying to us and then responding actively, as well constructively. When we engage in this kind of communication, it strengthens relationships, promotes trust and validates the people we interact with.

How can leaders and managers learn to employ active-constructive responding?

In the fast-paced work environment, managers and leaders sometimes engage in the destructive, as opposed to constructive, responses. If a team member says, "I successfully finished project X ahead of schedule," an active constructive response from their manager would sound something like: "That's fantastic. Well done! Tell me more. What allowed you to complete it ahead of schedule, and what were some of the lessons learned along the way?" Sounds pretty amazing, doesn't it? When people feel heard and noticed, and thus valued, it motivates them to go the extra mile and also to feel more engaged.

4. Unconditional Positive Regard

Likely the hardest concept to imagine being part of any work-related conversation is unconditional positive regard, the belief that each person deserves complete acceptance, care and supportive treatment. The attitude of full acceptance served as the foundation on which the humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers believed his patients could evolve, improve and become more self-fulfilled, ultimately reaching their full potential.

What insights can managers and leaders glean from this concept?

It's unrealistic (and probably humanly impossible) to expect managers to have a truly unconditional positive regard in the varied, complex and often challenging circumstances of work-life. It's even difficult for highly trained therapists. But let's imagine and strive for a world where managers and leaders place empathy and kind regard as a foundation to "how they do things" as they manage, lead and make decisions about their team members. In a world where empathy and compassion can be scarce, could a dose of kindness help team members thrive? May it help them connect more deeply to their organization? Feel more valued? The answer is most likely yes.

While these four concepts are insightful, they are not always easy to implement. However, they are worth exploring. Adam Grant, in his new book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know encourages readers to keep growing intellectually and to constantly challenge their thinking patterns. Psychology can offer great wisdom and practical ideas for leaders to help take them and their teams to higher levels of performance...with a bit more thoughtfulness, kindness and compassion.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

What To Do When All The Advice Feels Cliché And Hollow? Just Be There For Someone In Need (originally published on

This article was originally published on - click here to access 

In the strange world of the global pandemic, there is plenty of advice out there on how to be happier while working from home, be more resilient, cope with uncertainty, maximize your time in quarantine and stay productive, stop being productive and so on. Most of it is generally really good, sound advice. But something feels off. Something feels hollow and kind of untenable. If we are in uncharted territory right now, then who has the map? It’s tough to know. 

So, what should we do when much of the well-meaning advice is contradictory and feels detached from our actual lived experience? How can we make sense of our current situation while balancing so many opposing perspectives? Almost daily, I get asked some variation of the following: “What do I do now? What will happen to my [insert a noun here: life, career, relationship, health, wealth, etc.] in the coming months and beyond?” These are all good, important questions! And a healthy dose of self-reflection is an important component of our psychological well-being. It can lead to a better understanding of ourselves, help us stay focused on what we need to get done and keep us safe. This is especially beneficial in times of crisis. But focusing too much on our own needs can leave us blind to the plight of others, and in extreme cases, can lead to full-blown narcissism.

Here’s an idea: Why not suspend thinking about yourself and instead focus on helping someone else in need? There is a lot of very real suffering all around us. I don’t mean to suggest that everyone should become a professional counselor, a coach or a problem-solver for everyone else’s issues. Instead, being there for others could be just that: being there (albeit virtually in the pandemic), no strings attached.

And as an added bonus, helping others helps you! Research shows that practicing altruism can lead you to live a more meaningful life and make you happier.

You might say, “You must be joking. How can I help others? I am barely getting by myself.” Well, what if I told you there is someone out there who needs you just as you are? Your “imperfect self” could hold the key to making someone smile on a really tough day or making someone feel seen and heard.

Inspired? Here are four things you could do right now to be there for someone else:

1. Make someone feel less alone. 

Loneliness was already considered an epidemic before the pandemic, and, in 2020, it’s a full-blown tragedy. You yourself might feel lonely and detached from the world. So, what can you do? You can help another person feel less lonely while simultaneously improving your own mood. There are many ways to do it. Here is just one: Text or email someone out of the blue and ask, “How are you doing? I would really like to know how you’ve been these past few months. Let’s do a Zoom call. How about tomorrow at 5 p.m.?”

2. Help someone think through a thorny professional situation.

Isolation due to working from home is a real challenge for many. It can become even more difficult for people to think productively and make objective decisions. You can be someone’s coach of the moment by helping them overcome a challenging situation in their career. This is not done by giving advice, but instead by proposing thought-provoking coaching questions. Here are some of my favorites:

• Can you tell me about the situation you are dealing with?

• Please help me understand the broader context: What is working and what is not working?

• Paint a picture for me. Let’s say it’s six months from now. What would be the ideal outcome if everything worked out exactly as you’d like?

• Would it be helpful if we reconnected again in a week to see how you are doing?

3. Just listen.

Sometimes the context of the challenge is much less important than the energy it creates in someone, which can impact other areas of their life. People just want someone to stop and listen to them. I am convinced that one of the biggest reasons coaching has become so popular in the past two decades is that people don’t listen to each other enough. Since coaches are professional listeners (the good ones, that is), they are in especially high demand. So, next time someone is speaking, don't rush them, actively engage and listen to them with compassion and be fully present. 

4. Share some comfort food.

My grandmother always made blintzes — a type of crepe — with the goal of making the world a better, tastier place. You can stuff them with cheese, meat or vegetables, or eat them with honey. But I digress. It’s not important what food you make, or whether you buy it from the store. It only matters that you do something kind for another person without asking for anything in return. Is there a neighbor, family member or even a stranger for whom you can make this kind of special delivery? If there is, take this opportunity to perform a gesture of goodwill, and you will certainly feel happier as well. Since many people are also suffering financially, you can also consider donating to a local food bank if you have the means to do so.

The world needs all of us to be present now more than ever, not just for ourselves but for each other. And you don’t have to go far. Mother Theresa is often credited with saying, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” Who knows, perhaps after this crisis is over we will get used to being just a little more tuned into others and thus enrich our own lives.

What Crisis Can Teach Us About Crafting A Meaningful, Multidimensional Life (originally published on

This article was originally published on April 24, 2020 on - click here to access 

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted our lives in multiple ways: physically, emotionally, psychologically, economically and likely in other ways we are not even aware of yet. But it is not over — we are still very much in the midst of it. Heartbreakingly, many lost their lives. Many more lost their livelihoods. The future is still uncertain. However, it seems inevitable that we will soon enter a period of redefinition on both an individual and a collective level.

For the past several months, I have spoken with people going through professional and personal existential crises. Stuck working from home or losing their jobs in the tsunami of unemployment, people are faced with some challenging and unsettling questions, such as:

• What do I do now?

• Who am I professionally? Personally?

• What matters to me the most? Why?

• Life is so fragile. Am I living to my full potential?

• What matters to me the most? Why?

• Life is so fragile. Am I living to my full potential?

This reevaluation process is especially challenging for those who link their identity with their job, their company or any singular endeavor. With these revelations, we are quickly acknowledging the importance of being multidimensional.

What is multidimensionality? It’s when one pursues multiple paths toward a fulfilling and meaningful life. What does it look like in practical terms? It could mean working as an accountant while playing in a band on weekends. Add gardening and coaching Little League Baseball to the mix and you have yourself a prime example of a multidimensional life. Or perhaps, like me, you are an executive coach, HR professional and a Ph.D. candidate who spends your late nights and weekends painting or drawing simply because it brings you joy. The important thing to note here is that size and scope of any pursuit does not matter. It could be scrapbooking, doing crossword puzzles, learning another language, writing a memoir, volunteering, listening to podcasts on a particular topic of interest, working out and so on. What matters is that whatever it is, the pursuit is truly part of your life consistently and that you invest your time and energy into it. Multidimensionality can involve any combination, skills, talents and passions.

Why is it important to be multidimensional? Simply put, it is crucial to cultivate multiple aspects of your identity because if one of these dimensions disappears—as could easily happen during a global crisis, such as a pandemic—the other facets will carry you through. In fact, these other dimensions of your life could very well give you the strength you need to persevere through challenging times. Moreover, if you have multiple dimensions of yourself firing on all cylinders, you will be less likely to have an existential crisis. Why? Because your identity is defined by more than one thing in your life.

This isn’t a new idea. In 2015, Emilie Wapnick discussed the concept of multidimensionality in her moving TED Talk, “Why Some Of Us Don’t Have One True Calling.” Her main call-to-action is that you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you are not “one thing.” Instead, celebrate your talents and cultivate other aspects of your identity. Her answer to the question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is to be many things. You can follow your passions while still working at your current job. You’ll likely experience an increased level of meaningfulness and fulfillment by following both endeavors.

A multidimensional life is a creative life. People often confuse creativity for artistic endeavors when in reality, creativity can apply to any skill. You could be just as creative with a spreadsheet as you are at making dinner. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote an entire book about creative living called Big Magic. She argues that you shouldn’t let fear hold you back and she asks poignant questions like “What do you love doing so much that the words 'failure' and 'success' essentially become irrelevant?”

So what should you do now? Here are a few ideas for next steps:

1. Don’t bury the questions that are rising within you and don’t let this opportunity to redefine your identity go to waste. Instead, explore your questions, emotions and ideas. Air them out. Discuss them with a trusted friend, a partner or a coach.

2. Evaluate your current “dimensions.” Have you been neglecting them for weeks, months, years…decades? Commit to reviving and nurturing at least one additional dimension of your identity.

3. Don’t allow your fear of failure, doubts and excuses to be in the driving seat. Yes, there is a limited amount of time. Yes, there is very little energy left at the end of the shift, day, week, month, year. In these times of uncertainty, you might instinctively want to hunker down and just exist. It might feel like a luxury to strive to have a meaningful, multi-faceted life, but what is the alternative?

The best news of all is that you can’t go wrong! There are just as many variations of a multidimensional life as there are people in the world. I am doing it in my own way and so will you, but don’t wait too long. According to a 2018 study, people regret not becoming the person they wanted to be because they were trying to live up to other people’s expectations. After all, life is to be lived and experienced to its fullest potential. That’s what we are all here for.