Marshall Goldsmith has a genius for both approaches — in his coaching, his writing about leadership, and his own life. This makes him an invaluable guide for leaders who want, or need, to improve their impact. On the insouciant side, he is a clever, cheerful, and highly experienced bon vivant. If the phrase “life is good” is ever placed in a dictionary, Goldsmith’s picture should be next to it. And yet he is also the most disciplined person you are ever likely to learn about. Indeed, his latest book, Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts, Becoming the Person You Want to Be (Crown Business, 2015), coauthored with Mark Reiter, is a guide to the use of discipline as a simultaneous source of self-control and joy.
Every night, Goldsmith forces himself to do one of the most difficult things imaginable. He has a friend call him and ask the same 22 questions. (Remarkably, they are still friends.) These questions all start with the phrase, “Did I do my best [today] to,” and the endings may be strategic (“Did I do my best to set clear goals?”), professional (“…preserve all client relationships?”), philosophical (“…be grateful for what I have?”), physical (“…exercise?”), or personal (“Did I do my best to say or do something nice for Lyda?” [his spouse]). Many of them are directly related to increasing his own leadership skill: “Did I do my best to learn something new? To avoid destructive comments about others?”