Becoming the Person You Want to Become, with Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall Goldsmith, one of the top leadership thinkers in the world and famous author of “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”, was in Bucharest on October 30th. Marshall was the main guest speaker at the HR Times Conference organized on annual basis by the HR Club, i.e. the Romanian HR Professional Association. The event was impeccable and the atmosphere open and participative.

Marshall simply made our day. His charisma, energy and willingness to offer all of himself, plus the intentional effects, are mesmerizing, Marshall’s ideas are accessible, immediately applicable and nonetheless profoundly inspirational. He gave us all so much food for thought and to me, if I still needed it, topics to share and blog post ideas to write about for months to come.

Marshall chose to speak about “A New Approach to Increasing Engagement: Becoming the Person that You Want to Become”. I believe it is a mindset shift that many of us have not considered yet. It seemed powerful when Marshall spoke about it and his personal example – Marshall has asked someone to call him every day to read and score the list together, was totally convincing.

All the people I spoke to during and after the conference – and indirectly some who were not present in the plenary session yet heard about this approach from the participants, told me that they intend to start the list and monitor progress.

So, where does it start and what is this list exactly? Basically, Marshall says that in the same circumstances – read organizational system and context, same role, same job description, some people are more engaged then others because they understand that while you can’t change the world, you can change yourself and make a positive difference in the world. Making a positive difference is not only something we offer to the others; it makes us happy, too.

Marshall invites us to ask ourselves everyday these following questions: Did I do my best to increase my own happiness? Did I do my best to find meaning? Did I do my best to be engaged? People who ask themselves active questions on regular basis do report being happier and finding more meaning in their lives.

Questions are not allegedly sophisticated and existential only. Be as specific as you need to be. Add to your list questions like: Did I do my best to help my customers today? Did I do my best to market my ideas better by involving stakeholders? Did I do my best to exercise today to the best of my body’s abilities? Did I do my best to eat healthy? Did I do my best to acknowledge the people I love? Did I do my best to thank the people who helped me achieve my objectives today?

Many more questions, even more specific and certainly diverse are possible, adding up in a list that becomes alive and then flows with life. It’s all yours, to maintain or improve we please. The essential is to make it personal and to answer all questions daily. The answer is always a “yes” or a “no” or a number. The end of the first week will already give an idea of what is going on in our lives and a month is already about trends.

Such a process works well because it makes us look at how much we are aligned with our values each day. If the things we put on the list matter to us, they either are important or they aren’t. We can’t fool ourselves that they are important while the repeated answer to the question in the list is a “no”. We could continue to keep things on the list and start doing something about them or stop kidding ourselves about what is our reality and adapt the list. Win-win, either way. Thank you, Marshall! Wish you best and have a safe trip back home.

(Photo: I, with Marshall Goldsmith and Eva Benesova – my peer Marshall Goldsmith Associate Coach in Prague, at the event)

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