The Coach is In…

The Questions We Knew When

I was talking with my good friend the other day about a gentleman I was coaching who reminded me of me 30 years earlier.  The questions he would ask me, the dilemmas he was trying to solve were uncanny in their resemblance to my own questions and dilemmas. At that moment my friend said, you should write a piece on the questions we knew back when. He clarified that the questions we knew back when often led to the choices we made back then that led us to become who we are today. So, I guess what I’m asking is, “What were the questions that you were asking back when that led you to who you are today?” What were the what, why, and how questions that you were asking yourself in your teens, and the decades that followed?

Perhaps the ‘sequence’ of the questions (i.e., the questions we asked ourselves as teenagers are different from those in our 20’s, and those are different from the questions in our 30’s, different from our 40’s, etc.) is important as we were living them, but for our purposes I believe it is not necessary to know when a question emerged. What is important is that the questions I’m referencing are questions of inquiry, discovery, “life” questions, often about the future but not exclusively. Some examples:

What is important to me?

Why am I here?

What and who do I want to become?

What do I want to major in?

Do I really want to marry this woman?

How do my beliefs differ from my parents?

What are the characteristics of the leader I want to become?

How can I be more like my dad? How can I be less like my dad?

What kind of father do I want to become? How is that different from my dad? How is it the same?

What are the qualities of my mother that I want to influence who I become, as well as how I parent?

Who are you? Is that okay?

How good of a student do I want to become? How good an athlete do I want to be?

What are the areas of my life that I want to do differently?

What kind of husband do I want to be? How does that differ from my dad? How is it the same?

What is my purpose? What is important about that purpose?

How important is God to me?

How do I want to honor my parents?

What kind of grandparent do I want to be?

What are the tacit assumptions I have? How are they influencing my behavior?

What things am I prejudiced about? How is that influencing how I treat others? What would you like to change?

Will I ever get a job?

How do I know what I am ‘called’ to do?


These are just a few of the many questions I have asked myself. Some I continue to ask myself. They have shaped who I became and who I am becoming. They shaped how I saw my parents. They shaped how I saw the world. Some of those questions were/are disturbing. What I also know is that if I hadn’t raised these questions my life would have been quite different. These questions demonstrate to me a certain ‘intent’ to examine my life as it was, or has been, and to make ‘course corrections’ when necessary, along the way.


This ‘exercise’ has demonstrated something I knew, but not to the magnitude of what I understand today. The questions we ask ourselves can be the gateway to creating a more satisfying life. Questions help clarify what we want. In creating greater clarity around what we want we can examine and evaluate the direction(s) we want to go. Those questions/answers help inform us of how to get more of what we want. Questions afford us the opportunity to reflect on how satisfied we are with the direction of our lives and where we might want to make/create change. Questions can be very unsettling and threatening. In general, I don’t think most of us like change. That is why the act of questioning, to being more introspective, can shine a bright light and a direct challenge to how we are living.

I submit that the questions we ask reveal our intention for ourselves. The more difficult the questions the more opportunity there is for greater change and greater satisfaction. There was a time in my life that the answers to some of my questions were driven by “what others thought or would think.” It took me some time to mature beyond what others thought to asking myself, what do you think? Who do YOU want? Pleasing others is often a natural part of our maturation process. Unfortunately, if we never learn to find out who we are and what we want, life can have a shallower echo because our life doesn’t have as much depth or breadth.

I struggled with getting this post off the ground. I was getting stuck on which decade did certain questions emerge? It was easier when I removed the need to sequence the questions. I’m glad I took on this challenge. I was able to see how several questions helped determine the direction I took to get more of what I wanted – even while I was continuing to sharpen my focus on what I wanted.

Questions can ‘expose’ us, but in the exposure can come a path to greater understanding, an opportunity for healing, forgiveness, and a different direction. If you have not ever taken the journey to look at ‘the questions you knew back when,’ you might find it to be an interesting way to illuminate how you came to take the path(s) that you did.

Toward a better you…