Listening To Your Life

I was born in 1950 and country grown, outside of Pittsburgh, where I naturally went deep. The space program was a big deal when I was 12 years old but I can clearly remember it not holding a lick of interest for me.

I was into digging and dirt. I built dams in farmer’s streams. My buddies and I built earthen forts and tried tunneling. One of the best stand-by-me adventures was following a gas line excavation for miles, all day long.

At 12, I took my first job on a farm and my love for gardening grew from there. I worked on the farm for 5 years and loved every bit of it but I especially loved digging up spuds and stacking the wooden crates high in cool, dimly lit storage rooms.

When I was 17, I took a job going deeper into the earth and worked with a backhoe operator installing sewer pipes. I loved carrying those 80 lb. terra cotta sections and jumping in and out of ditches. Can you see the developing theme? Can you see what my life was trying to tell me, even then?

At 19, on summer break from college, I worked as a United Mine Worker in a deep shaft coal mine.

I wasn’t looking for any of these opportunities. They appeared one after the other, as guidance, to write my future life script.

Fast-forward 40 years. Eleven years ago, I was thinking about a name for my new coaching business. I called it Coresight, soon after changed to CoreU. I named it so because I loved getting to the root of deep, messy, emotional issues with my clients and I still do.

Business start up success is always more predicated on an inner game than on the influence of any outside conditions. That’s one reason why every entrepreneur must be able to read his or her own inner landscape.

When I was naming my career coaching company, I hadn’t yet made the connection to those earlier life experiences where I dug going deep so much. It became relevant, years later, when I first read Parker Palmer’s book, Let Your Life Speak.

He proved to me that my soul, my inner wisdom, guidance from the highest and best part of my being has always been trying to nudge me in the direction of my true calling.

But these calling nudges, (like they often are), were not meant to be taken literally but as a metaphor for my life’s work.

Guess what my friend? Your life has been speaking to you as well. Are you listening?

Clients often ask, “Where will the confidence come from for me to make my best career change? Confidence comes from being able to read the signs and follow your life message. You don’t need a past life psychic to guide you. Your life has been giving you real time hints all along.

But you do need to sort out the authentic nudges from all of the “outside-in” messages and I have a way for you to do that. You could write your autobiography using appreciative inquiry.

You can reclaim the wisdom in your life hints by recalling what has worked well for you over the years. If you want a free guide write me and tell me why you think this approach will work for you.

If enough readers are interested, I’ll facilitate a free class on how to interpret your autobiography to see the most telling themes. This approach is one of dozens I use to guide clients to the powerful position of self-understanding and now you can have it for the asking.

It’s all there waiting to guide you and it always has been. Isn’t it time you listened to your own life?


  1. Well said Tom! People complain all the time how they don’t know what they’re good at or they’re not good at anything. When in fact, they haven’t payed attention to the signals. This is one skill every person needs to learn.

  2. Eduard – Indeed. It’s all there for the digging. 🙂 I’m pleased you agree and that you’ve obviously looked at your own signals.

  3. Great post that inspires me to evaluate where I am in the forest, and what I’m seeing. Trees? Perhaps. The forest itself? On occasion. Love your idea of a workshop, especially as I’m at transition’s edge.

  4. Since it’s difficult, at best, to listen, hear and interpret accurately in the moment the messages my life has for me, here’s what I do to help myself: I look back, I look for the “themes”, like you say.

    Then I look around the present and ask, “What about what I’m seeing could be something I’ll look back on later and say ‘Ah Ha!’?”

    I also fast-forward to the end of my life and pretend to look back and ask, “Was it THAT important?” This, in particular, gives me much-needed perspective now.

  5. Betsy – 🙂 If you can sense that you’re on the edge you might as well jump all the way in. Let me know if you want to take a crack at the autobiography and I’ll send you the guide. Discernment comes from engagement – it’s only too much thinking that gets in the way.

  6. Suzanne – Thanks fr your excellent examples. I do something similar when I find myself a bit dazed and confused. I talk to future Tom who must have it all together more so than I do now. I just interview him on the turning points that I haven’t yet arrived at and he lays it out quite well. Smart guy that Future Tom! 😉

  7. Loved your metaphor for digging deep…

    I read and sang my way through my childhood…working at staying out of the way…being hidden…

    I am in the full throws of transition and have brought us down to the painful bare bones…of no money….and yet I feel up and ready to go…

    I would feel more up if the Adrenal fatigue pain would leave my body alone! but making great healing progress.

    Writing about it for the 29th

  8. Hi Tom, I have lived a priveleged life. I have been fortunate to learn how to listen to my life.

    I think running a class on this would be very valuable.

  9. Great article, Tom! We “do” life through our most naturally abundant gifts and talents – we do this unconsciously, because our most natural gifts are so natural, we don’t even recognize them!

    Love the idea of looking for “themes” – I know I wanted to be a teacher as early as age five!


  10. Great post Tom. I only wish I had learned to listen to my life at a much younger age! And it is never too late to discover your true calling. Not everyone knows what they want to do when they are 5 and/or have a family who is behind what they want for themselves.

    You offer a great way to take responsibility for your life back. After all it is my life – whatever happens from here is up to me so actually listening to the story my life reveals is a very good idea 🙂

  11. What an article! Wow! And may I add, when you finally, FINALLY learn to “listen” you’ll be amazed how clear the road becomes. It is almost like being on automatic pilot as you follow the path. Sure there are still obstacles but to think of them as negative is wrong. They are merely challenges along the way to aid in the learning process of personal growth. The farther you go down the path, the more subtle the challenges become as does the “listening”. But what a ride! Great, great post! Thank you!

  12. Patricia – It’s all good and it seems as though you are seeing that more and more clearly.

    Evan – Isn’t that grand? Way to go my friend and you’ve served others well because you do listen.

    Andrea – Yes listening is about more than just hearing, it’s also discerning and recalling the major imprints of divine guidance. Cool beans!

    Susan – It’s not only a good idea but it’s a very empowering idea. It actually feels like coming home and you are right, it’s never too late.

    Barbara – Welcome! Well said. I see the challenges as guidance through he process of Divi9ne Coalescence. Everything happens to show us our options including steps in less than desirable directions.

  13. Tom, I would love to be a part of that teleconference. I am very intuitive and sensitive.. learning to listen even more to the smallest nudges.
    So, why am I interested then??
    I have this recent clue that I am so curious about.. maybe its not time yet or maybe i just need to dig a teeny bit more with more enthusiasm.. but who knows maybe it will bubble over with more clues in one of these sessions again.. your teleconferences tend to do that so well! 🙂

    definitely let me know if you do have this.. xx Jenn

  14. Chris Edgar says:

    Thanks for this Tom — this definitely mirrors a process I’ve been doing with myself recently. I remembered how much time I spent as a kid reading fantasy novels — something I’ve tended to be embarrassed about as an adult — and I’ve been thinking perhaps it’s time to write my own fantasy novel, rather than just the nonfiction I’ve tended toward.

  15. Jenn – It’s always a pleasure to see you here. I’ll be sure to let you know when the details are set. Life is good!

  16. I think people sometimes mix up what they want to do and what they’re born to do.

    I’ve seen people happy either doing what they love to do, or doing what they were born to do … either path seems to work … and it’s amplified when it’s the same.

    I’ve seen people very unhappy when they do what they don’t love to do and they don’t do what they were born to do.

    I’m a believe that you have to either find the job you love or love the job you’re with. It’s another way of asking, “what do you want to spend more time doing?” …. and connecting with your values in a practical way.

  17. Maryagirl says:

    Thanks for sharing, when I am young I used to follow orders from elders and now I’m so hopeless cause I’m tired of following orders anymore and I hate making things and stuffs that I don’t like. Anyway, I really like your blog and i really appreciate the excellent quality content you are posting here.

  18. Great metaphor. Again, a timely post, as I have been going backwards to find some “meaning”. I love that for you it’s “going deep” but doesn’t necessarily mean you’re still working on a farm. I’m always looking for literal translations, but there may be something more there to look at.

    I think the autobiography class would be very cool.

  19. Chris – It heartens me to know that others are out there looking at their lives and actually considering following the messages. As I’m sure you know, we tend to make things far more complicated than we need to. Life is simple when we observe and then act.

    J.D. – Yeah I know what you mean and they can be actually three different things. 1). What you love doing. 2). What you were n born to do and 3). What you want to do. I agree the trifecta of fulfillment is to identify one thing that hits all three. That’s quite a groove. But any one of these paths get you a lot closer to bliss than settling.

    Stacey – Yeah it took me awhile not to be so literal as well. The clues are everywhere and our first interpretation of them may not be as accurate as another look. That’s why I always like asking, what else could this mean?

  20. I agree its hard to realize the difference between what you want to do, what you are good at, and also what you should do. Family and friends will try to influence you so in a way you have to be selfish to figure it out.

  21. gene – Yes that’s correct. The best way to be generous is to be selfish about your time and decisions. That way you’ll end up in a much better spot to help many.

  22. Tom, I would certainly be interested in your class. I am now 50 years old, and feeling more and more like a fish out of water. I have apparently not made those life connections. We have four teanagers, 16 years old and up, that we have been trying to help with their career outlooks and education directions. I tend to urge them into something they really enjoy doing, or think they might want to do for a career, while at the same time trying to be realistic in a living income mind set. The more I try to help them the more I feel like such a hypocrite. Here I am in my 31st year of a dieing career and have no clear direction of what I want to do for the rest of my life. My planned retirement has completely been wiped out by the economy, so I figure I have another 30 years to work at something.

  23. Tony – Welcome man. I’ll be sure to let you know if that class ever makes it to the schedule but in the meantime I’m glad that your teenagers are serving motivation to you to see what you don’t want. Now be really clear about what you do want. I’d like to help you and I’ll be sending you an email with some options.

  24. Andrea Lynn says:

    I would LOVE to take your class or get you guide for my autobiography. I, too believe that life offers us themes but we have to discerm them…please keep me on your list!

  25. Andrea, the best way to know when I’m offering that class again is the sign up for my email newsletter here:

    I’ll send you the notes via email. Thanks for your interest.


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