Marshall Goldsmith is a world leading executive coach and the million-selling author or editor of 34 books. His books have been translated into 28 languages and are best-sellers in ten countries.
Parvati Magazine: How does your “life is good” philosophy reflect in your life and your work?
Marshall Goldsmith: My “life is good” philosophy is based on Buddhism. I have been a Buddhist since my mid-twenties. Buddhism underlies three of my favorite sayings: “Life is good”, “Be happy now” and “Let it go.” Buddhism meshes perfectly with behavioral coaching. I always tell my clients, I don’t care about their past, how they feel, or their “inner psyches”. All I care about is their future behavior. It’s working for me so far!
PMAG: Can you tell us about the 100 Coaches project and how it grew to include the world?
MG: In summer of 2016, I came up with the idea of mentoring 15 people at no charge in the 15 Coaches project. My idea was to pick 15 people to teach everything I know. In return, these 15 would do the same thing for 15 others, for free. I was inspired to do this by the many wonderful teachers and leaders who have so generously helped me – without ever asking for anything in return.
I am so excited and moved by the more than 12,000 applications I have received! The many wonderful ideas of how applicants will pay it forward are humbling and inspiring. I wish I could mentor everyone who applied. Given the overwhelmingly positive response I have received for this project, I have decided to expand the program from 15 to become the 100 Coaches project. I am working on the selection of the next 75 coaches!
PMAG: You have been helping people evolve for a long time. We are now arguably at a point where evolution from many societal comfort zones is becoming an imperative. What gives you hope for the future and what message would you like to leave us with?
MG: This is a great question. The message I would like to leave is the best coaching advice I’ve ever given anyone. It goes like this: Take a deep breath. Imagine you’re 95 years old. You’re on your deathbed. You’re just getting ready to die. But right before that last breath, you’re given a beautiful gift. The ability to go back in time and talk to the person listening to me right now, to help that person to be a better leader and have a better life. What advice would that old person have for you? Well, a friend of mine was interviewing old folks who were dying, to ask this question, “What advice would you have?” On the personal side, three themes. Theme number one: be happy now. Not next week, not next week, not next year, be happy now. Common comment: “I got so busy chasing what I didn’t have, I couldn’t see what I did have.” That’s a great first question every day: “Did I do my best to be happy?”
Number two: friends and family. Your companies are important but when you make that daily question list, include your friends and family, “Did you spend time with your family? Did you tell them you loved them?” At the end of the day, that’s going to be very important.
And number three: if you have a dream, go for it. Because if you don’t when you’re 35, you may not when you are 55 or 85. And really challenge yourself not to get so wrapped up in the day to day activities of life you forget that big dream you’ve got for the future.
Business advice isn’t much different. Number one, life is short, have fun. Number two, do whatever you can to help people. And not just for money and status but because the 95-year-old you will be proud of you because you did. And number three, if you have a dream, go for it. Old people, well we almost never regret the risks we take and fail. We always regret the risk we failed to take.
Marshall Goldsmith is a leading executive coach, and author of bestsellers What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (2007), Mojo (2010) and Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts – Becoming the Person You Want to Be. He received his Ph.D. from UCLA Anderson School of Management. His client list is a who’s who of American CEOs. Dr. Goldsmith was recognized as one of the fifteen most influential business thinkers in the world by The (London) Times and Forbes. He and his wife live in San Diego.