Guest Blog: The Question That Changed My Life

This was the topic of my first blog and I issued an invitation for guest blogs on the question.  Below is our first guest blogger!

The Question That Changed My Life

Hmm… the question that has changed my life was posed to me a few weeks back.  I was invited to write on this topic, and I thought to myself what an easy subject.  Why I know I have a profound question that has driven my life, I’m sure of it!  Boy, oh boy, I have never been so off track and so gloriously wrong in my entire life.  Trying to capture this answer has instead turned into a quest, not unlike that of rereading a book to get a better understanding of the characters.  Or in my case, perhaps using stronger reading glasses to see if there was anything that I missed; a common thought or word, but as usual, I’m always complicating simple matters.

Then today, I attended the funeral of a kind and generous family man. As I was sitting in church, misty-eyed, I thought of his kindness, love of family and his joy of living.  This prompted me to begin reflecting on my life and note when a stranger, acquaintance or a family member sent a kindness my way or radiated happy contentment.  Surprisingly those instances had a powerful impact on my emotional health and strength.   Providing me with that extra shot of confidence and grit when I needed it.  In trying to unearth the question that has changed my life, I discovered I have been attempting to be generous with my words and actions to others.  Most days successful other days not so much.  I face each day in the content knowledge I am loved and have family, friends, and creatures to love – total bliss!

The simple question I now ask consciously at the start of each day is “what can I do to be kinder to myself and others, how can I bring contentment and joy to my own life.”   A powerful thought that gently leads to shedding light on other areas of my life, unearthing new questions that nudge me to grow.  When I was a child, I remember something my mom once told me: “Be kind to those you will meet, you don’t know the burdens they may be carrying.”  She treated everyone with compassion wherever she went, and I am happily striving to do the same.

Meet our guest blogger!

IMG_2741Hello there!  My name is Susan Smith (really that’s my name).   I am fortunate to have a husband who has put up with me for over 34 years, an incredible son, a dream come true daughter in law, and a precious granddaughter who gets that I’m a sucker for her every whim!  We live with a dog who believes she is human, a cat who plays mind games, and a cat who thinks she is a dog.  I love experiences that are creative, challenging and a little bit messy.   What a life I have! 


Do you have a question that changed your life?  Let me know if you would like to be a guest blogger!


Can You Read Your Own Label?

How do you see yourself?  As human beings, we tend to have a view of ourselves that is probably different than others see us.  As Shakespeare said, “Oh, would some Power give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us!” It is said that perception is reality, so the way others perceive us is reality – or at least the reality that we need to accept.

Our self-reality is the picture we have of ourselves in our head.  It is summed up in a great little saying, “You can’t read the label from inside the jar.”  We are in our own bubble, living in our head – inside the jar – so we can’t see ourselves as others do.

So what? We are living our life, trying to be the best we can be.  If others can’t see it, is that our problem?  Yes, it is.  Because other’s perceptions of us affect every area of our life – from our career to family to friends.  There is another saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”  When we are too close to a situation we lose perspective.  Other’s perception is reality because they can read the label on our jar.

At the beginning of our coaching engagement, I take my client through some self assessments, so that they can begin to see themselves as others see them.  The most eye-opening is a 360 degree assessment, with feedback from 10 to 15 of the client’s peers, supervisors, and staff.  This is where there are often surprises for the client.  The feedback about the client’s perceived strengths and weaknesses from this group  is usually consistent.  Those co-workers all read me the label they see on the client’s jar – and they all pretty much read it the same way.  When this information is shared with the client, he/she is often surprised.  They don’t recognize these perceived weaknesses or strengths as others do.  This gap in the way they see themselves versus the way others see them is a topic we then can explore in the coaching sessions.

How can we make sure we are reading our own jar labels? One way is to work on our own emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence is a term coined in 1995 in a book by psychologist Daniel Goleman.  It’s defined as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”  I think of emotional intelligence as what our parents called being mature – understanding and exercising self control in our own emotions and in our relationships with others.

To succeed in our relationships, we can’t blindly disregard how we come across.  We need to make efforts to see how we are viewed and make adjustments when there is a gap with how we want to be seen.

So, get out of your bubble, away from that forest and take a look at your jar label.

Shakespeare will approve.


Lee Ann Pond is the founder of Engaging Leadership, which provides training and support for business leaders, with a focus on employee engagement.  She has an MBA, 15 years “C” suite experience in finance and HR, and is a certified executive coach.