The Inner Journey Series, Step #1: The Introduction

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 20, Issue No. 8b
January 15, 2022

By Dan Coughlin


24 years ago on January 15, 1998, I started my own business.

On that day, I had zero business experience having been a college soccer coach, a high school soccer coach, and a high school math teacher for the first 13 years of my career. I had no business cards and no website. I simply started with the idea of helping other people to achieve whatever they wanted to achieve.

This work has led me to people and places I never thought I would meet or go. For 24 years I’ve served as an executive coach, seminar leader, and guide for strategic sessions and group coaching programs.

My emphasis with people for all these years has been on the outer quest of improving results as we focused on personal effectiveness, leadership, teamwork, and management. All of my executive coaching, seminars, and articles have concentrated on how people can be more effective individually and collectively in achieving their desired outcomes.

However, over the past few years, I’ve realized that I have left out a tremendously important dimension of becoming truly meaningful as a person. I have focused on the outer journey to the exclusion of the inner journey. It’s like I’ve been a track coach for people running the 100-meter dash or a marathon, and I’ve ignored the first 25 meters or the first 6 miles.

So starting with this series of articles and later this year with an 8-session course called The Inner Quest: an internal journey to excellence that will be offered for free, I am adding a new dimension to my work. This new dimension is not focused on achieving external results, but instead concentrates on the journey to strengthen our inner selves and fulfill our higher purpose. It’s my belief that if a person strengthens his or her inner self first, then he or she greatly increases his or her chances for making a positive, sustainable, long-term impact in the world.

As part of adding this new dimension to my work, I am combining ideas I’ve learned from studying philosophy and spirituality into what I hope are a practical set of exercises to help you on this inner journey. I’ve almost always stayed away from sharing my thoughts on spirituality, but I realize now that it’s time to incorporate them into my teachings because I have found them to be extraordinarily important and helpful in my own life.

Specifically, I will be writing and talking about my belief that there is a Greater Wisdom in the universe that goes beyond you and me, and that we can tap into that Greater Wisdom through prayer. To me, prayer means a conversation between a person and this Greater Wisdom. I’m not talking about some cosmic force that will bring you the house you want or the title you want or the income you want. Nor am I referring to something that will cure diseases or eliminate all problems from your life. I’m simply talking about an entity outside of you and me that can offer you advice and a perspective to consider, which is my definition of wisdom.

Overview of The Inner Journey

We will begin with a set of words that I’m calling The Basic Terms of The Inner Journey. Over the past 30 years I’ve come to learn that words and what they mean to an individual are very, very important in establishing a personal philosophy. I will ask you to consider what each word means to you, and then I will share what they mean to me.

We will then focus on the enormous importance of seeing how we are selfish, and how we can surrender our selfishness to make room in our lives to be more virtuous. This simple phrase, “surrender selfishness and embrace virtue” will become an important mantra on this journey to strengthening our inner selves. The idea of integrity as doing what you believe is the right thing to do even if no one else is watching will emerge as a key aspect of the inner journey.

We will then dig into the idea of clarifying our higher purpose beyond just achieving results, which I think is a crucial factor on this inner journey. We will concentrate on the contribution we each want to make with our lives.

And in the end we will attempt to apply the ideas from our inner journey to the organizations and communities where we work and live.

Milestones on The Inner Journey

There is a great deal of work ahead for you and for me as we go on this inner journey. The milestones for us to aspire for are:

  • Milestone #1: A Stronger Inner Self
  • Milestone #2: A Higher Purpose
  • Milestone #3: Deeper Relationships
  • Milestone #4: Greater Contributions
  • Milestone #5: Better Organizations & Societies
  • Milestone #6: Excellence

Thank you for considering to step into this new dimension of my work. I hope you will find that it lays a practical groundwork for you as you journey toward the life that you fully want to live on your life’s entire 100-meter dash or marathon.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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