On Monday’s how, I welcomed Marshall Goldsmith, author of 35 books and one of the top coaches in the world. He just released his newest book Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts — Becoming the Person You Want to Be*.
As I expected, there’s still a lot to say after this week’s episode. This leadership guide highlights three of his strategies to improve your behaviors and takes you behind the scenes on my thoughts during the interview.
Be Like a Hollywood Celebrity
Monday evening I was at a meeting in a Los Angeles office building with a great view of the Hollywood sign. It got me to thinking about Marshall’s comment about why Hollywood celebrities all hire personal trainers.
He made the point that celebrities don’t hire trainers because they don’t know how to work out — they do it because, left to their own moods, they wouldn’t exercise consistently.
While most of us don’t have the resources that celebrities do, we run into the same obstacles in our own human behaviors. After all, Marshall said of himself, “I need help, and that’s OK.”
Use the questions Marshall posed to get clear on what’s important to you. Once you do, who can you engage that will help you stay accountable to yourself? Hiring someone might be the answer, but limited resources shouldn’t stop you from taking action.
When I’m facilitating courses where behavior changes are part of the objectives, I often encourage participants to team up with an accountability buddy to check in regularly. Your awareness that a conversation with someone else is coming about your behaviors will often motivate you to action.
Side note: likely this will be the only time you hear me use the phrase “be like a hollywood celebrity.”
Do Your Homework
When I first read What Got You Here Won’t Get You There* many years ago, I was most impressed with two things. First, Marshall does a masterful job at identifying what leaders should stop doing.
Second, he talks in depth about the homework he gave to our community on Monday. He has a call every night with someone he pays to ask him yes/no questions about what he’s previously identified as most important in his life.
Marshall suggested that we do the same. Create a spreadsheet with the things most important to you and track it daily. For example, one of the items on my list is, “I was patient with our children today.” At the end of the day, I mark either yes or no.
Since not everyone has the resources to hire a coach for this, you can track it yourself with a daily task reminder. If you’re like me, you’ll find how quickly you fall short on what’s most important.
Keep tracking through discouragement. It’s easy to give up (as I’ve done before). I work my hardest to take the data as information, rather than condemnation. When I do, I get better.
I’ve used a few apps in the past to help with this and just started using one called Habit List this week to make this tracking as simple and transparent as possible.
Decide If You Are Willing
This question from Marshall struck me:
Am I willing at this time to make the effort required to make a positive difference on this topic?
I immediately thought back to a situation Bonni and I handled a few years ago. We had been members of a church for years, but no women had ever served on the elder board (the governing body of the church).
Bonni wasn’t specifically interested in serving, but we wanted our children to attend a religious community were any skilled person had the opportunity to lead. While some people were open to that possibility, it was apparent that many years of work to advocate for change were ahead.
We ultimately ended up asking the question above and concluded that while the cause was important and worthy, neither of us were fully willing to make the sustained effort for the years it would take. We found a new church home that more fully aligns with our values.
The decision was neither right or wrong, but was best for us at the time. In another season of life (our son was about to be born) we might have been more willing to make the effort.
My regret was not the decision itself but the time it took us to make it. That’s why this question struck me. The answer is important, but so is the courage to ask it sooner rather than later.
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