Marshall Goldsmith was called one of the ‘top ten executive educators’ by The Wall Street Journal, and holds a list of accolades alongside a list of businesses who credit him for his major success. Remarkably, interviews with him are relatively hard to come by. I found this one, hidden away as a word doc(!), on his website. It’s not hard to see why his approach is more readily helpful than the advice of many of his contemporaries.
“The great Western disease is ‘I’ll be happy when…’ This is fueled by our prevailing art form – the commercial. The commercial says, ‘You are unhappy. You spend money. You become happy!’ I don’t believe that anyone can become happy by having more. I also don’t believe that anyone can become happy by having less. We can only find happiness and satisfaction with what we have. Life is good when we make it good.”
It is a mistake to believe that there is something waiting ahead of us that will fix our problems. There are no external solutions, only internal ones. There is also no fixed internal state:
“I believe that we have no ‘fixed identity’ but instead we are ever changing. My coaching approach involves helping people let go of the past and focus on becoming what they want to become.”
It’s a strange truth that we are constantly looking toward the future for fixes and into the past for rationalizations for our failures. It would be better to look at our present selves, and decide what it is we are supposed to do in the now.
All of these truths make Goldsmith a very different type of coach, in my opinion. The article closes with this quote:
“We all have a ‘blind side’ – that is behavior that others can see in us, but we can’t see in ourselves. By being open to feedback we admit this is a reality. We are able to learn from others and change – instead of ‘prove they are wrong’ and stay the same. The perspective of others is the only thing that can enable us to do this.”
Look inward. Be open to our blind side. Be present-minded. And remember: Life is good.