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Develop the Habits That Can Change Your Life. With Marshall Goldsmith [Episode 581]

Marshall Goldsmith, one of the most influential business thinkers in the world, the number one leadership thinker in the world, and the author of multiple books, including Mojo: How to Get it, How to Keep it, How to Get it Back if You Lose it, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, and Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts — Becoming the Person You Want to Be, joins me on this episode.


Marshall says people have become more sensitized to the importance of interpersonal behavior, and are seeking to create positive, lasting change in their behaviors. Managing knowledge workers requires managers to be more adaptable.

Marshall notes the difference between common sense and common practice and the gap between knowing what to do and doing it. We over-estimate the importance of willpower. Most don’t think they need the help of others.

Admitting to a vulnerability or a weakness still carries a stigma. If the top tennis players have coaches, why shouldn’t the top CEOs have coaches? Coaching is to help winners get better. Coaching is more accepted now than 30 years ago.

A trigger is a stimulus that might impact our behavior. One unique perspective in the book Triggers is its focus on interpersonal interactions and perception.

Marshall fines clients $20.00 if they start any sentence with “no,” “but,” or “however.” At dinner, one CEO had to go to an ATM to cover his conversation. Change that habit. A rep must help the customer succeed; not focus on themselves.

Charles Duhigg proposes three parts of behavior change. For interpersonal interactions, Marshall adds awareness, a deep breath, and choice. After a trigger, think, pause, and make a considered choice to change behavior.

Marshall examines a case study of a man choosing to honor his wife instead of competing with her about whose day was harder. He chose empathy and he improved the marriage.

The planner and the doer are different. The planner thinking about a diet in the morning is not the same as the doer at the end of the day staring at a chocolate cake. Marshall lists some delusions about planning that sabotage success.

We need to realize how difficult it is to achieve goals, how easy it is to be thrown off course, and that we need much more structure and direction than we admit. Marshall explains the daily question process and gives a listener assignment.

Active questions start with, “Did I do my best to…” Marshall describes four qualities to a good, hard question. He supplies six great questions to ask yourself daily. He adds that even the greatest sharpshooter can miss a very big target.

Read the book and study about the daily questions. Get an accountability partner to call every day and go through the questions. Marshall talks about how going over the questions daily saved the life of his accountability partner.

Anyone can be your accountability partner, especially if they are motivated to do their own questions as you do yours. Marshall has paid someone to be his partner. Checklists save lives, and the daily questions are like a checklist.