Guest Blogs, Leadership

Do you have a witness to your life?

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it,

does it make a sound?”



If I have a success in my life and no one is around to see it, hear about it or celebrate it with me, does this success resonate as much with me?



Lately, I’ve been mulling over this idea about people playing witness to my life. We traditionally think of a “witness” in the scenario of two people getting married. From the New York City Clerk’s Office:

“You and your prospective spouse must have at least one witness, who must be 18 years of age or over. The witness or witnesses must bring proper identification. We will not perform your Marriage Ceremony if you have not satisfied these requirements.”

You literally cannot get married if you do not have someone to witness your union. Occasionally, we need a witness to sign a contract to confirm that we did indeed sign the contract in the presence of another person who witnessed our act of signing.

These are legal reasons for needing a witness, but I think that we all need people to witness our lives. People who witness our success (and celebrate with us), failure (and offer a hand up), struggle (and offer a shoulder to cry on) and our everyday adventures (and join us). Witnesses ensure that your life will not go unnoticed.

For this blog, I pulled in my friend (and witness to my life), author and national public speaker, Jason Jaggard,  to chat about witnesses.

Seen and Be Seen. Having your spouse, partner, friends and family witness your life proves that you exist and are important. How do witnesses give your life value?

I’m reminded of quote from the film Into The Wild:  “Happiness is only real when shared.”  This echoes the ancient idea that we’re actually designed for community, that our successes are each other’s as well as our failures.  New York Times columnist David Brooks put it this way in his bestselling book The Social Animal:  “we become who we are in conjunction with other people becoming who they are.” 


Traveling and speaking can be a lonely gig and you have to find ways to stay connected with your relationships, and sharing even meaningless moments. I’ve begun even a simple habit when I fly anywhere – when I land I text 3 or 4 friends of mine just to share that piece of my life with someone.  Before I speak or my friends speak somewhere we text each other a picture of an empty auditorium with the caption “LIFT HOUSES OFF THE GROUND.” It’s our way of reminding each other to knock it out of the park, to bring our best, and that we don’t go up there to speak on our own – we bring our friends with us in a very real and spiritual way.


Witness Feedback. It’s important for people to witness our lives to give us encouragement and positive feedback. How have you received witness feedback?


I’m pretty fortunate to work with some of my best friends like Ryan who came with me to Chicago to work with a nonprofit or my business manager and one of our executive coaches who joined me in San Jose to work with a statewide organization for physical health.  We don’t only give and receive feedback but we welcome it because we’ve earned each other’s trust over the years. That’s what I love about the “witness” concept: when we think too highly of ourselves it can bring us back down to earth, and when we think too lowly of ourselves it can lift us back into the sky. 


Witnesses are Watching. It’s important for people to witness our lives to remind us that we live our life as an example and people are watching. How do you conduct yourself or hold yourself to a higher standard when you realize others are watching you or looking to you for leadership and direction?


Honestly, I wish this wasn’t as true as it is.  I wish that I would behave the exact same way whether people were following me or not.  I wish that I would choose the same choices whether I was on stage or wrote books for a living or not.  I think it’s important for your character to flow from your heart and not your circumstances.  At the same time, I’m thankful that I get to be in a profession that – for the most part – expects the best from me.  It creates a demand for my character to keep pace with my career. 


Be a Witness. Be a witness to other people’s lives. How are you a witness to other people’s lives?


Since I love conversation or connecting with people over dinner or coffee or simply just hanging out, this is how I bare witness to my friends’ lives.  I call them, spend time with them and (sometimes) barrage them with questions – questions about their marriage, their work, their dreams.


Part of being a witness is also actively engaging, not just watching or listening. Recently my friend Mark won a prestigious award at his work.  I was so proud of him.  I found out about it from his wife’s twitter feed.  I called him and we talked about it – and then I posted it on every social network known to man.  Sometimes it’s not enough for the player who scores to spike the ball.  It’s way more fun when we all spike the ball together.


At the end of the day (and this blog), it is important to be surrounded by good friends and family who bare witness your life. Thank you to Jason Jaggard for providing insight for this blog. To learn more about JJ, check him out here:

2 thoughts on “Do you have a witness to your life?”

  1. Nice blog, sweetie! And harks to one of my all time favorite quotes from a movie. Susan Sarandon in “Shall We Dance?”. If you haven’t seen it, rent it with the teacher. Hugs!! g.

    We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things, all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness’.”

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