Category Archives: Passion/Purpose/Possibilities

The importance of coaching for meaning and purpose

work gives you meaning and purpose

“Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life.” Viktor Frankl

“Self-actualizers seek meaning and purpose and very often find it by contributing to others, to their community, or to society at large. More and more people are demonstrating that they care as much about fairness and the plight of others as they do about themselves. These emerging altruistic tendencies are also causing them to question corporate ethics and values as well as the profit motive.

“…ordinary people want more say in how they are treated at work and by business. It is not surprising that the issue of meaning and purpose is being raised more and more often stemming from the desire to escape from what many see as a meaningless corporate world and to go independent. On the other hand, coaching is an invaluable tool for helping staff clarify their own thoughts and remove the confusion and frustration that makes it unlikely that they will give their best effort. Countered by the need for security, some people may well choose to stay put for a time, but dissatisfaction is likely to haunt them. Others may leave the organization anyway, but most can discover how to find meaning in their existing work, or in part-time charity or community activities outside of work, and thereby maintain their performance with greater willingness and satisfaction.

“Meaning and purpose are spoken of as being joined at the hip, but they are not identical and they need to be distinguished. Meaning is the significance we ascribe to an event or an action in hindsight, while purpose is our intent to embark on a course of action. Meaning is mainly psychological, whereas purpose is a spiritual concept. To be more precise, we should specify either meaning or purpose or both when coaching others.” John Whitmore, Coaching for Performance

The importance of coaching for meaning and purpose cannot be overemphasized as gen-Xers become more altruistic as they age  and move out of the workforce and millennials seeking the “why” behind everything move into organizations. Employee engagement and loyalty, high productivity, innovation and creativity, great customer service…and, finally, profit are the outcomes of coaching for meaning and purpose, yet it’s still all too rare in organizations of all types and sizes. Why not give it a shot? You have little to lose and a lot to gain…and you’ll learn a lot in the process.



Many of the people I meet and work with don’t do much reading, either because they don’t enjoy reading or say they don’t have time to read. Life without reading is a foreign concept to me. I love reading. I love the world of books and ideas and spend as much time as possible reading for the pure enjoyment of learning. So, for the non-readers among us, this blog is an opportunity form me to share snippets of things I have read that speak to me and I hope will speak to others who have the 2-3 minutes it takes to read them. Today’s topic is insecurity, a malady which strikes most of us from time to time.


“The feeling of insecurity is based upon a concept or belief of inner inadequacy. If you feel that you do not ‘measure up’ to what is required, you feel insecure. A great deal of insecurity is not due to the fact that our inner resources are actually inadequate, but due to the fact that we use a false measuring stick. We compare our actual abilities to an imagined ‘ideal,’ perfect, or absolute self. Thinking of yourself in terms of absolutes induces insecurity.

“The insecure person feels that he should be ‘good’ — period. He should be ‘successful’ — period. He should be ‘happy,’ competent, poised — period. These are all worthy goals. But they should be thought of, at least in their absolute sense, as goals to be achieved, as something to reach for, rather than as ‘shoulds.’

“Since man is a goal-striving mechanism, the self realizes itself fully only when man is moving forward towards something… Man maintains his balance, poise, and sense of security only as he is moving forward — or seeking. When you think of yourself as having attained the goal, you become static, and you lose the security and equilibrium you had when you were moving toward something. ‘The man who thinks he has “arrived” has about used up his usefulness to us,’ the president of a large business said to me… St. Paul is generally regarded as a ‘good’ man, yet his own attitude was, ‘I count myself not to have achieved…but I press on toward the goal.'” — Maxwell Maltz, M.D., F.I.C.S.

So, here’s your homework. Carefully, answer these questions. Are you using a false measuring stick? Are you living a life of “shoulds?” What are you doing that is giving you a sense of forward momentum in your life…a sense of progress? Do you see yourself has having “arrived,” giving off an aura of false (or arrogant) bravado? What’s next for you that will bring meaning and fulfillment to your life? A truly successful life, a life that leaves a legacy, is a life of continually asking yourself the hard questions and always pressing on toward the goals you have chosen.

Thoughts on being “just regular”


Here’s a thought that I’ll bet has crossed your mind many times…”I wish I could be like (insert your hero’s/idol’s/role model’s name here).” Am I right? Of course I am. Media, teachers, friends and even family members encourage us to “be like” someone else who is considered to have their act together and has everything going for them. We cut and style our hair, wear certain clothes, buy specific types of things, go certain places, watch sports, listen to the chosen genre of music, sculpt our bodies (naturally or unnaturally), and include the jargon favored by “our crowd,” all in order to be like someone else, to fit in, to be admired and accepted. Phew! A lot of time and effort goes into being “special.”

My wife, Kathy, and I have talked much about this topic over the past couple of years. We’ve discussed how we’ve fallen victim to the imitation game. We’ve also slowly discovered what it’s like to just be and do that which “sparks joy” in our lives simply because it resonates with us, because it just feels right and makes us more comfortable in our own skin. It’s not easy to go against the flow and chart your own path and we’re not always successful, but it has definitely been freeing and sometimes just downright fun!

Kathy recently wrote a “morning musing” titled “Thoughts on being ‘just regular'” and has given me permission to share it with you. Enjoy!

Thoughts on being “just regular”

“I read a lot…of others achievements…contributions to the world, creativity, athleticism, super parenting/grandparenting. And I aspire. Within that aspiration comes the creeping thought…others are so fantastic, so cool…look, look, I want to do that…how fun, how creative, how holistic, spiritual, helpful, inspiring…yet I am just regular. I am ‘past my prime’ as you say and cannot even remember exactly what I was doing in my prime besides spinning plates and trying to keep my head, and the six little heads that were mine, above water. It’s most likely a very good thing that I had less to compare myself to back then before social media, as the ‘thief of joy’ (comparison) was more limited and thus more subdued.

“I turned freaking 59 this year. Holy moly! I still weigh the same as I did thirty years ago but it is definitely not positioned the same. I am in good shape with the added ‘for my age’ — yada yada yada. I can do some cool stuff and I know it, but it is ‘regular’ stuff I think. Like making up a great meal from refrigerator and pantry misc., knitting crazy stuff, piano, art. I like to do a lot but I am pretty regular at it.

“Today I decided to be okay with that. No one will invite me to do a TED Talk or demonstrate anything on YouTube or publish me in the Huff Post…you name it. And finally my over-achieving, people-pleasing self has decided that this fact is okay.

“I shall quietly pursue my passions. Embrace my years and the good and the bad. Live and love large in the way that is true to myself, not some other woman who seems to have super powers.

“I feel the urgency of getting on with unpackaging myself and allowing obsession over things I desire to do. To be my best self, whether or not that self stacks up to anyone else.

“Regular is not bad.”


Three Qualities…do you have them?


To fully benefit from questions of purpose and commitment, we need to be grounded in certain qualities that help us hold to our personal intentions when we engage with the pressures of the marketplace. These qualities are our capacity for reawakening our idealism, our ability to become more intimate in the way we contact the environment, and our willingness to choose depth in the face of the ever-quickening pace of modern life. The culture has forsaken idealism for cynicism, it has foregone intimacy for consumption and virtual experience. As a result, we find ourselves alienated and isolated, regardless of the crowd that we move in. Finally, in an effort to go fast, we sacrifice depth. When we lose idealism, intimacy, and depth, we function at a cosmetic level, pushed along by fashion, out of touch with our center, and we react as if we are the effect of the culture, rather than its cause. — Peter Block, The Answer to How is Yes

Have you yielded to cynicism? Do you feel isolated? Are you living at a purely surface level, simply responding to external presssures? The likely answer to at least one of these questions is “Yes.” So, what are you going to do about it? Be the cause  for idealism, intimacy, and depth in your life and in the world around you. It really is your choice.

A man is somewhat like a bicycle.


Functionally, a man is somewhat like a bicycle. A bicycle maintains its poise and equilibrium only so long as it is going forward towards something. You have a good bicycle. Your trouble is that you are trying to maintain your balance sitting still, with no place to go. No wonder it feels shaky

We are engineered as goal-seeking mechanisms. We are built that way. When we have no personal goal which we are interested in and which “means something” to us, we are apt to “go around in circles,” feel “lost” and find life itself “aimless,” and “purposeless.” We are built to conquer environment, solve problems, achieve goals, and find no real satisfaction or happiness in life without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve. People who say that life is not worthwhile are really saying that they themselves have no personal goals which are worthwhile.

Prescription: Get yourself a goal worth working for. Better still, get yourself a project. Decide what you want out of a situation. Always have something ahead of you to “look forward to” — to work for and hope for. Look forward, not backward. Develop what one of the automobile manufacturers calls “the forward look.” Develop a “nostalgia for the future” instead of for the past. The “forward look” and “nostalgia for the future” can keep you youthful. Even your body doesn’t function well when you stop being a goal-striver and “have nothing to look forward to.” This is the reason that very often when a man retires, he dies shortly thereafter. When you’re not goal-striving, not looking forward, you’re not really “living.” In addition to your purely personal goals, have at least one impersonal goal — or “cause” which you can identify yourself with. Get interested in some project to help your fellow man — not out of a sense of duty, but because you want to. — Maxwell Maltz, M.D., F.I.C.S.

Answer these four questions for yourself right now. The answers will give you poise, equilibrium, and a sense of meaning and purpose. After all, isn’t that what we really want?

  1. What is your personal goal?
  2. What project are you actively pursuing?
  3. What are you looking forward to?
  4. What goal are your pursuing that will contribute to the greater good…for the benefit of others?


“Impossibles” are opinions, not facts.


“Men are disturbed not by things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen.”  — Epictetus

“When I announced that I wanted to be a doctor, I was told this could not be, because my folks had no money. It was a fact that my mother had no money. It was only an opinion that I could never be a doctor. Later, I was told that I could never take post-graduate courses in Germany, and that it was impossible for a young plastic surgeon to hang out his own shingle and go into business for himself in New York. I did all these things — and one of the things that helped me was that I kept reminding myself that all these ‘impossibles’ were opinions, not facts. I not only managed to reach my goals — but I was happy in the process — even when I had to pawn my overcoat to buy medical books, and do without lunch in order to purchase cadavers. I was in love with a beautiful girl. She married someone else. These were facts. But I kept reminding myself that it was merely my opinion that this was a ‘catastrophe’ and that life was not worth living. I not only got over it, but it turned out that it was one of the luckiest things that ever happened to me.” — Maxwell Maltz, M.D., F.I.C.S.


Even the corner diner has a vision.


“Great enterprises, broadly defined, are based on a clear vision. In fact, it’s hard to think of an example of a successful business that doesn’t have one. This vision is likely to have evolved over time, but it is there, guiding the firm into the future.

“There is a diner on the corner of my street in New York City — a modest establishment that has been my favorite place to eat for the past fifteen years. The owner founded the restaurant more than thirty years ago. His vision was to build a friendly neighborhood restaurant that provided basic food at a fair price, with prompt service and very modest decor in a convenient location. Every key decision the owner and his colleagues make today is still consistent with this vision: minimal staff, no credit cards (to save on fees), a large counter for walk-ins, and so on.

“The diner’s success emanates from the vision that lies behind it and their operation certainly embodies the concept of vision.”

— Robert Steven Kaplan, What to Ask the Person in the Mirror

First question, do you have a vision for your non-profit, your business or the functional area you are responsible for? If so, does the vision you have for your business, non-profit, or functional area drive your decisions and actions on a daily basis? If not, it’s time to revisit your vision and determine why not and take the appropriate steps to make your vision come alive. It will be time well spent.