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Marshall Goldsmith tells a story in his book Triggers about a high-performing executive at a Fortune 100 company. The CEO was getting glowing reports from his direct reports about his progress at work but was so frazzled by the end of the workday, he was getting home and spending his evenings arguing with his wife and yelling at his kids.
“How is it you get to be a consummate professional at work but an amateur at home?” Needled Goldsmith. This then prompted his client to add a new daily question to his end-of-day review: On a scale of 1-10, did I do my best today to be a loving and patient husband and father?
When I read this story, it hits a nerve for me. While I wasn’t doing that badly at home, I’d be lying if I said my patience wasn’t running out 30-60 minutes before my children’s bedtime – the time when they were most likely to drag their feet and not comply with my need for peace and no to-do items!
Daily questions like this have several benefits, especially for identities you are working on that do not have tangible targets. They help us get better and adjust faster to change. Eventually, we become our own coach.
These questions are Goldsmith’s secret weapon with the Fortune 100 CEOs he coaches. And if the questions are good enough for them, they are good enough for you and me – especially for qualitative areas that are not easy to measure.
All the questions start with: Did I do my best to…
Here are his standard six ‘foundation’ questions.
On a scale of 1-10, did I do my best to…
1. Set clear goals today?
2. Make progress toward my goals today?
3. Find meaning today?
4. To be happy today?
5. Build positive relationships today?
6. Be fully engaged today?
Did I do my best to… inject personal responsibility and ownership into the questions.
It’s not easy “to face the reality of our own behavior – and our own effort level – every day.” Especially when we have told ourselves it is something important. So, either we push ourselves into action or we abandon the question.
You can come up with others that relate to Achilles Heels of your own. Here are a few commonly used by clients of mine:
“On a scale of 1-10, did I do my best to…”
*Detach emotionally from outcomes?
*Not take things personally?
*Trust my intuition more?
*Do my best?
*Be present and engaged at home? (no longer an amateur at home)
*Accept what I can’t control?
Goldsmith adds that 90% of people rate themselves as above average, yet within 2 weeks 50% will give up on Daily Questions. I lasted 6-8 weeks the first time I tried them in 2015. I made three mistakes.
1. I didn’t personalize the questions enough so at some point allowed my negative self-talk to convince me that these were (somehow) Goldsmith’s priorities, not mine. I took his recipe too literally.
2. I lacked the worthiness at the time to see that the best of the best commit to these questions to get even better and that, somehow, I didn’t fully deserve to play with this crowd. It was okay for me to have a ‘kick around’ but not actually be on the field for the big game. I forgot that nobody that is better than you or me.
3. This was the big one that I quickly convinced myself I didn’t need to do, and you may too:
“The only essential element is that the scores are reported somehow – phone, email or a voicemail – to someone every day. And that someone is the coach.”
Reading off our scores becomes a test of our commitments. That ‘coach’ can be one of three things:
– Simply a scorekeeper who makes no judgment (says nothing)
– A referee blowing the whistle if your scores are repeatedly low
– A full-blown advisor who asks you about what you’re doing and why
It’s quite easy to see why you wouldn’t want this level of accountability. It’s confronting and forces you to step up and be counted. I feel sad that my past self didn’t have the internal strength or resolve to do this. I guess I had too many other challenges at the time or perhaps had not built up enough support.
The Daily Questions provide the structure and accountability to keep top of mind your biggest priorities that are harder to quantify. Change doesn’t happen fast using these questions. It gradually shifts your awareness which, when you think about it, is how the most real change happens anyway – slowly. So do stick at it and the rewards will come.
However you want to make the change, it is work. Let me leave the final words on this topic with Marshall Goldsmith: “We have to go to the gym forever.” None of this is easy, I know. But it’s the difference in your one life between fairly good and great. And this is within your control.
Question it daily!
Founder & President
Matt Anderson International
1177 Oak Ridge Drive, Glencoe, IL 60022, USA
Phone: +001 (312) 622-3121