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LifeSignature Stories and Questions / What's Important to You?

"Everyone has a story, and everybody wants to tell their story in order to connect. If no one listens, we tell it to ourselves and then we go mad. Listening moves us closer; it helps us become more whole, more healthy, more holy. Not listening creates fragmentation and fragmentation always causes more suffering." Margaret Wheatley



Here are some questions and stories to help you determine what matters in your personal and professional lives.

Key Benefits


You will better understand the importance of living the life you were given.


You will read about rituals and games that remind of what's important.


You will be asked to answer five tough questions about what you have learned in your life.

Five Tough Questions

1. If you were on your deathbed and you wanted to tell your children -- or the young people to whom you are close -- the three most important things that you've learned in your life, what would they be?
2. What gives you the greatest joy, satisfaction and renewal in your life and how could you do more of it?
3. Who are you without your job, your money?  Describe in detail.
4. What activities could you add to your life that would be a source of richness and joy!
5. Think of someone you admire deeply--and explain why.

Email your answers to these five tough questions to Coach John Agno at JohnAgno@SignatureSeries.com to let him know how you would like to move forward in living your LifeSignature.


Will I become Too Narrow if I Focus on My Signature Themes?

by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton from pages 144-145 of their new book, Now, Discover Your Strengths (The Free Press, 2001)

In the course of our research, we interviewed many religious leaders. One of them, the prioress of a Benedictine convent, described her philosophy of life this way: "I try to live my life in such a way that when I die and my Maker asks, 'Did you live the life I gave you?' I can honestly answer yes."
No matter what your religious beliefs, the question, "Did you live your life?" can be quite intimidating. It implies you have a particular life that you are supposed to be living and that any other life is false, inauthentic. Since many of us wander through life plagued by the nagging suspicion that we are making up our life as we go along, we are fearful of even considering this question. And this fear confines us. Unsure of who we really are, we define ourselves by the knowledge we have acquired or the achievements we have racked up along the way. By defining ourselves in this way we become reluctant to change careers or learn new ways of doing things because then, in the new career, we would be forced to jettison our precious haul of expertise and achievement. We would have to jettison our identity.
Furthermore, unsure of who we really are, we become reluctant to investigate who others really are. Instead, we resort to defining others by their education, their sex, their race or similarly superficial markers. We take shelter in these generalizations.
Whether in reference to new experiences or new people, our uncertainty about ourselves limits our inquisitiveness about other things. You can avoid this uncertainty. By focusing on your top five signature themes you can learn who you really are. You can learn that you are not making up your life as you go along. You can learn that your successes and achievements are not accidental. Your signature themes are influencing every single choice you make. Your top five signature themes explain your successes and achievements. This kind of self-awareness leads to self-confidence. You can face up to that intimidating question, "Are you living your life?" by answering that no matter what your choice of profession, no matter what the trajectory of your career, if you are applying and refining and polishing your top five signature themes, then you are indeed living your life. You are indeed living the life you were supposed to live. This kind of self-awareness will open you up to be truly inquisitive.

A Very Special Game

Author Unknown
My grandparents were married for over half a century, and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word "shmily" in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving "shmily" around the house, and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more.

They dragged "shmily" with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio where my grandma always fed us warm, homemade pudding with blue food coloring.

"SHMILY" was written in the steam left on the mirror after a hot shower, where it would reappear bath after bath. At one point, my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave "shmily" on the very last sheet.

There was no end to the places "shmily" would pop up. Little notes with "shmily" scribbled hurriedly were found on dashboards and car seats, or taped to steering wheels.

The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows. "SHMILY" was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparents' house as the furniture.

It took me a long time before I was able to fully appreciate my grandparents' game. Skepticism has kept me from believing in true love-one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted my grandparents' relationship. They had love down pat.

It was more than their flirtatious little games; it was a way of life. Their relationship was based on a devotion and passionate affection, which not everyone is lucky to experience.

Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each other's sentences and shared the daily crossword and word jumble. My grandma whispered to me about how cute my grandpa was how handsome and old he had grown to be. She claimed that she really knew "how to pick 'em". Before every meal they bowed their heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune, and each other.

But there was a dark cloud in my grandparents' life: my grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier. As always, Grandpa was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so that she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside.

Now the cancer was again attacking her body.

With the help of a cane and my grandfather's steady hand, they went to church every morning. But my grandmother grew steadily weaker until, finally, she could not leave the house anymore. For a while, Grandpa would go to church alone, praying to GOD to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma was gone.

"SHMILY". It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my grandmother's funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time. Grandpa stepped up to my grandmother's casket and taking a shaky breath, he began to sing to her.

Through his tears and grief, the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby.

Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. For I knew that, although I couldn't begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.

S-H-M-I-L-Y: See How Much I Love You.

 It is only a tiny rosebud,
A flower of God's design;
But I cannot unfold the petals
With these clumsy hands of mine.
The secret of unfolding flowers
Is not known to such as I.
GOD opens this flower so sweetly,
Then in my hands they die.
If I cannot unfold a rosebud,
This flower of God's design,
Then how can I have the wisdom
To unfold this life of mine?

Click here for leadrship coaching.Click here for information on Coach Agno. Click here for more information about Coached to Success

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