Marshall Goldsmith is one of my favorite executive coaches. His books and insights have been invaluable to me in my journey and I always like to recommend him to others. His newest book, Triggers will be released in about a month. He has been posting a series of YouTube videos leading up to the release. His most recent short video is called “Last Breath,” and I wanted to share it with you, along with some thoughts you can take away with you.
He begins by saying that “the best coaching advice you will ever get” will come from inside you. This is a fundamentally important idea to the coaching process. Coaching is more like physical exercise than it is medicine. Changes don’t just happen to you. They aren’t imparted like magic. You acquire the mental tools to recognize what’s needed to make the necessary changes within yourself.
So how could you possibly know what your 95 year old self would say to you today? It’s an amazing exercise that implores you to, through the lens of impending death, instinctually assess the areas of your life that need the most attention and change. These might be things that you aren’t comfortable talking about regularly, and that’s ok. This is an exercise purely meant for you to build an awareness within yourself.
When Coach Goldsmith’s friend interviewed people who were dying the three ways they typically answered this question were: be happy now/eliminate “when,” cherish your friends and family, and chase your dreams.
Goldsmith says that “when” is the great disease of our time and I agree. All kinds of people find ways to put off happiness everyday. Unfortunately, “be happy now” isn’t always as easy to do as it is to say. I find many Buddhist writings a good way to focus my mind in the present and help me find happiness in the presence of what is. Realize that “I’ll be happy when…” can be extended into infinity, and if you don’t make peace with what you have, it likely will.
It’s important to also remember to cherish your friends and family. While you might spend more time around coworkers and associates, they aren’t the people who will be by your side should something terrible happen to you. They may be responsible for boosting your ego in small ways, but your friends and family are the people capable of giving you true love. Don’t forget that and pay it back as often as possible.
The final piece of advice most commonly received from the dying is to chase your dreams, recklessly, boldly, with your whole heart, today. Like the “when” disease, dreams don’t typically become more likely to be realized the longer time goes on. The sharpness of the picture fades, and attention gets shifted to other areas. Even if it’s something small, go for it.
So what advice would 95 year old you have for yourself today? Listen closely! Asking yourself these questions could help you live a happier and more grounded life. To preorder Marshall Goldsmith’s new book Triggers, click here. Connect with me on Linkedin and Twitter @DoubledareCoach.