The Questions I Ask Myself

I was recently asked by some of my students to share with them the questions I ask myself when I self-reflect. I have summarized the questions in two lists. The first list is the “Annual Self Reflection Questions” that I focus on once a year during my three-day silent retreats in Minnesota each December. The second list is my “Daily Self Examination Questions” for each evening:

Annual Self Reflection Questions

  1. What are my values?
  2. What do I stand for?
  3. What is my purpose?
  4. What really matters?
  5. How would I react if I was told I only had five days left to live?
  6. What kind of a leader do I want to be?
  7. What kind of a example do I want to be for others?

Daily Self Examination Questions

  1. What did I say I was going to do today in all dimensions of my life?
  2. What did I actually do today?
  3. What am I proud of?
  4. What am I not proud of?
  5. How did I lead people?
  6. How did I follow people?
  7. If I lived today over again, what would I have done differently?
  8. If I have tomorrow (and I am acutely aware that some day I won’t) and I am a learning person, based on what I learned today, what will I do tomorrow in all dimensions of my life that are important (as a father, as a leader, as a son, as a spouse, as a spiritual person, etc.)?


  • Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Prof Kraemer!


  • Daven Morrison MD


    These questions are outstanding, but more importantly, or perhaps in my opinion!), is the fact that you practice reflecting on them in such a disciplined way.

    If there were more leaders who did (full credit to those KSM students who complete your class and make this a habit!) we’d have a lot less Enron’s, LIBOR rate rigging scandals and Atlantic Public School grade frauds!




  • Thank you Prof Kraemer


  • Harry,

    Thanks for your “opinions” on the topic of leadership. I realize that I need to take more time with self-reflection and understanding what happened and where I am going. Strikes me that daily course corrections are far more valuable than huge shifts done periodically. I might name your reflection methodology as “My Daily Compass.”. I am curious, however, if there is a spiritual or faith based underpinning to your world view that drives your values. You mentioned that you started at a Jesuit retreat.

    Thank you again for sharing your story.


  • Pingback: Contemplazione

  • My list of questions is not as exhaustive as yours, Professor Kraemer, but everyday I note down on paper (I need to “see” my thoughts) the answer to three questions: What have I achieved today? What have I learnt? What could I have done differently? And from today on I will add “What did I say I was going to do today?”… Thanks for sharing.


  • Thanks Prof. Kraemer.. these questions are truly foundational for any leader.
    I like to put more emphasize on the importance of the impact on people and ask myself:
    – Have I touched somebody positively today?
    – Have I impacted someone’s life at all? Who’s he/she ? How did it happen?
    – Am I being impactful to the life’s of those most close and important to me?

    Because for me, the true meaning of life is discovered when your circle of impact starts from those very close (family) and expand .. the larger the impact, the greater the leader.


  • Wow.. I got drawn into your lecture as I think like you. I actually take myself out of the whirl wind, try to keep a distance from everything and ask similar questions. People have a tendency to get more and more involved. If the problem they need to solve is more complicated or big, they get wrapped up themselves with issues they deal with and end up getting lost. I am in the middle of very critical and complex initiative that has failed by two previous leaders and I am the third one. All the leadership’s eyes are on this but their angst is getting bigger. I’ve been on this only for few weeks at the perfect time that I started with Kellogg program.. boy… but it feels like I’ve been on this for months. It is really easy to get emotionally involved as well and I started to get stressed out. But I decided to take a step back and go over what I need to accomplish, how I am going to do it, can I do it, what do I need to do, do I have it, how am I going to provide the comfort and security the leadership needs to hear and see, what do I need to do with the people who are working on this and how I am going to lead. Most of all, how does it align to what I want to achieve as a leader, for my career, as a co-worker, to other groups of leaders.

    Your lecture is spot on and looking forward to hear the rest and apply!


Leave a Reply to Tony Kim Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.