Podcast 936: The Earned Life: Lose Regret, Choose Fulfillment with Marshall Goldsmith

A truly inspirational man – Marshall Goldsmith, has joined me in today’s podcast to share his stories of success and to talk about his new book entitled The Earned Life: Lose Regret, Choose Fulfillment.

Marshall is the only two-time Thinkers 50 #1 Leadership Thinker in the World. He has been ranked as the World’s #1 Executive Coach and Top Ten Business Thinker for eight years and was even chosen as the inaugural winner of the Lifetime Award for Leadership by the Harvard Institute of Coaching.

Marshall also is the author or editor of 41 books which have sold over 2.5 million copies, been translated into 32 languages and become listed bestsellers in 12 countries. I got a great opportunity to have a talk with him about one of his masterpieces and his most personal and powerful work to date – The Earned Life: Lose Regret, Choose Fulfillment.

In this book, Marshall offers a dazzling but simple approach that accommodates both our persistent need for achievement and the inescapable “stuff happens” unfairness of life. It’s packed with illuminating stories from his own legendary career as a coach to some of the world’s highest-achieving leaders.

If you want to learn more about Marshall and his amazing works, you may click here to access his website.

I hope you enjoy this engaging interview with Marshall Goldsmith. Happy listening!

THE BOOK

In The Earned Life, Marshall Goldsmith challenges your unproductive attachment to outcomes and reveals the key to living unbound by regret, by helping you connect to something greater than the isolated and fleeting achievements of careerism:

“We are living an earned life when the choices, risks, and effort we make in each moment align with an overarching purpose in our lives, regardless of the eventual outcome.”

That’s the definition of an earned life. But for many of us, that pesky final phrase is a stumbling block: “regardless of the eventual outcome.” Not being attached to the outcome goes against everything we’re taught about achievement and fulfillment in modern society.

THE AUTHOR

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith has been recognized as one of the Top Ten Business Thinkers in the World and the top-rated executive coach at the Thinkers50 ceremony in London since 2011. Published in 2015, his book Triggers is a Wall Street Journal and New York Times #1 Bestseller! He’s also the author of New York Times best seller and #1 Wall Street Journal Business Book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, winner of the Harold Longman Award as Best Business Book of the Year.

You may also refer to the transcripts below for the full transcription (not edited) of the interview.

Marshall Goldsmith Interview

Greg Voisen
Welcome back to Inside Personal Growth. This is Greg Voisen, the host of Inside Personal Growth and the man across the table here actually, in Nashville, which you probably all recognize from his picture from being out on the internet is Marshall Goldsmith, good day Marshall, how are you?

Marshall Goldsmith
Very happy to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Greg Voisen
Namaste to you as well. I appreciate you taking the time. I learned more about you in the earned life than I earned that I learned from the other books. So it was it was really good. And I'm going to let my listeners who don't know much about you just give you a brief little bio. Dr. Marshall Goldsmith has been recognized as one of the top 10 Business Thinkers in the World, and top rated executive coach at the thinker's 50 ceremony in London since 2011. Seems like so long ago, published in 2015 books triggers is Wall Street is a Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestseller. He also is the author of The New York Times bestseller and number one journal business book, What Got You Here Won't Get You There, winner of the Harold Longman award at the best business book of the year. Well, you know, it's really a pleasure to have you back on the show. And especially about your book, do you have the earned life book behind I do right here the right steps because I never got a copy yet. But I did get a PDF of it. So thank you. And we are going to be talking about the earned life. And it's from regret to fulfillment. And I think that many of the listeners have always have had regrets. But let me start this off Marshall, because I looked at this as kind of an introspective. I've been studying Buddhism now for ever and ever. I'm a self-realization Devontae all my listeners know that. And I recognize the real that kind of fine line in spirituality and coaching that one does, in this book has been written. As I say, when you're reflecting on your personal life at an age in life, where I think we all do some introspection, I'll be 68 years old this July. I appreciate the story that you told the introduction about Richard and his regrets in life, just this character, somebody you coached. You state that any decent advice book aims to help readers overcome a perennial challenge all of your books had some perennial challenge in them, you are helping people to overcome you state that the challenge you're tackling with this book is regret. I think that's true. But I think you're tackling a lot more than regret with the book. After years of coaching executives, everybody from Alan Mulally to wherever which I'm going to ask you a question about Alan. You, you've heard all kinds of people give you regrets. And what shift in perspective do people need to embrace, to either eliminate or reduce the regrets that they have?

Marshall Goldsmith
Well, if you look at the concept of what leads to great life, they're to me not that many variables. And one that I don't talk about in the book is you need to be healthy, too I don't talk about in the book is you need to have like a lower middle class income above that it doesn't go up or down much on happiness. And you need to have great relationships with people your love. Assuming that you're healthy, you got a good relationship with who you love, and you got a middle class income. What matters? Well, to me, there's three things that I talked about in the book. First, is our aspiration, you need some sort of higher purpose, why am I here? Why am I doing this? Why are you on this call? There needs to be some higher purpose than has to be religion just needs to be some answer to the question, Why am I doing this to then you need to achievement, your ambition. And your ambitions are these achievements that have a time perspective, that hopefully are connected to this aspiration, and then three, your day to day actions, and that's the process of life. And if you do have higher aspirations and what you're doing every day, your level of achievement is connected to those aspirations. And you enjoy the process of life where you just won, you pretty much won the game of life. That's, and there may be more but I'm unaware of what it is. You pretty much won that game of life. And if you look at the people in history, most of our ancestors, they lived in the action zone. I mean, they were doing day to day things, their life was pretty much controlled. They did what was in front of them they tried to eat. They were just living, not bad or good. I just was. Some people are lost in their heads. They're living up in the clouds. They have very high level aspirations, but they don't achieve anything. The people I've coached over the years, and the people that inspired this book are achievers. And they face the great challenges of achievers. And we never think about achievers as having challenges. Well, they do. And that's what the book is about often is when you get lost in achievement. And one of the most important points in the book is you never, ever place your value as a human being on the results you achieve.

Greg Voisen
Well, I'd say this topic is obviously something we could discuss at length and infinitum, because it's such a dynamic topic. But I did a podcast with April Rennie not that long ago, and she sent out a letter that said, you know, people are running from something to something. And I thought that was an interesting perspective, because hers was all about thriving in this current time, you know, you wrote this during the pandemic. And you were still in La Jolla, then. Right. And so, you know, I always question when you've was such an interesting person, because you've been with so many people face to face that question about running from something to something? What would what would you say? Because they're high achievers, they're running to something. So what are they? What most likely, or in your estimation, are they running from?

Marshall Goldsmith
Well, in the COVID period, we had 50 or so people every weekend, my friend Mark Thompson has been six hours. So we spent a total of 500 hours and they would rotate the group so they're a different group every weekend with these 50 people. And it was amazing, because you know, these are like I could tell you they were the president World Bank. And you know, the head of St. Jude's Hospital and the pelvis saw the basketball player in quarters Martin the football star and tell him to Broadway star and head of the Olympics and rock on and on and on. And these are like, Great achievers. One thing, though, is it's very lonely. There's an old saying, you mentioned what are you running from? It's lonely at the top. It used to be lonely at the top. Today, it is much lonely, or at the top, it's lonelier than it's ever been. People don't have a sense of community. They don't have a support group. They don't have anyone to talk to one guy sit in a group one hour a week, I get that guy a human.

Greg Voisen
And that one hour that he had with you guys.

Marshall Goldsmith
Yeah, that was it to be human. You get to get up and act like a human being. You don't have to put on a show for an hour.

Greg Voisen
I love it. I love it. Now you state that your premise is that our lives toggle back and forth between two emotional polarities. And on one end of the polarity of fulfillment on the other end, you have regret and then you've got a line that goes back and forth. Can you speak with us about the six for fillers? Because I think the biggest one is happiness. In my personal, humble opinion, after having done 900 podcasts with people on personal growth, I would say happiness is probably the biggest one that we can seek to embrace in our lives, the fleeting fulfiller of happiness. Because in the end, you know, nobody's going to say to me or you. I wish I spent another hour at the corporate office. I love the Dalai Lama's comment in I say this on many of these shows because he's quote hangs on a wall. You're going to be known by who you loved, how many people loved you and how much you let go. And the reality is, that's so true, because you talk about in this book, too, and I'll go there and in a few minutes. This impermanence and non-attachment, sometimes for CEOs, that's a really difficult and difficult one to get. So can you speak about those six fulfill orders? And how we can find that big fleeting one which is happiness?

Marshall Goldsmith
Let me start with the happiness then I'll go to the others and just remind me to go the others. Okay. If you look at happiness, basically the Great Western diseases I will be happy when I get the money status, BMW when I get the condiment and when I have this achievement, I will be happy when? Well, that's the Great Western disease. It's a great western myth is once I do this, what the book what The Book says, once you get this, they lived happily ever after. The type that book is called a fairy tale. There's a reason it's called a fairy tale that's not life. In life, we are constantly reinventing ourselves. We're constantly starting over welcome constantly returning our life and, and the essence of Buddhism as I practice it, and there many schools of Buddhism I don't make any judgment on someone else's school. Yeah, is basically this Buddha was brought up very rich and his father thought you're going to be fine if you get more. And he kept giving him more and protected and we lived in a bubble, he was able to sneak out three times where he learned you get old, you get sick and you die, shit happens and you're going to have all the money in the world old sick and die be poor, old sick and dies, it is more stuff not doing it. He tried to be happy with less he starved himself he lives like a hermit, you know, we learned didn't work either. What the Buddha finally realized you can never be happy with nor can ever be happy with less, there's only one thing in life, you can ever be happy with what you have. So only one time you can ever be happy now, only one place you're going to ever be happy that would be here. Where's nirvana? is listening to a podcast right now you and me This is it. It's not someplace else is out there some lizards, it's here.

Greg Voisen
Good. Thank you for that plug. That's great. But what you know, I say is to the Four Noble Truths. And if you look at the first one, the Buddha always said they're suffering in the end of suffering. There's only one person that could cause the end of suffering, if that pursuit of something is causing the suffering, right? The only thing that somebody can do to mitigate that is to be okay with them. Who they are.

Marshall Goldsmith
And also be don't get fixated on outcomes results, right. Because the again, we have been bombarded with the Great Western art form, which goes like this, there is a person has said, so said they spend money, they buy a product and they become happy. Well, how many? It's called a commercial. Have you ever heard that before? How many times? How many 1000s of times hundreds of 1000s of times the same message over and over and over? The message is happiness is out there. Right? No, it isn't, as in here. Look, they took a great study, one group of people became quadriplegics and the other group won the lottery Three years later, there wasn't much difference in happiness.

Greg Voisen
Yeah. And you know, the conundrum for you. I'm thinking is here is a success coach speaking with high achievers about non attachment and impermanence. And, and I bet they all get it intellectually. Okay, they get it intellectually. But is there any way you can help them turn the dial down so that it becomes much easier to live with that because that isn't a concept. It's a concept that's kind of foreign to achievers,

Marshall Goldsmith
or it's not kind of foreign? It's exceptionally for Yeah. It's exceptionally foreign to not just achievers. It's exceptionally foreign people in the West period. Yes. We have been so conditioned that you know, happiness is a function of getting something. Yeah, let me give you an example of a guy in our group Sofie Bacall. Now Safi has got an IQ equals a mine and yours combined, probably. And he has PhD physics from Stanford. He wrote a book called loon shots, he is made 10s of millions of dollars. He's,

Greg Voisen
he was on my podcast you've met Savi consulted the

Marshall Goldsmith
President's, you know, on and on and on and on. Safi said he had a great realization in our groups. He used to think that happiness was a dependent variable based on achievement. He said, he finally realized you can achieve a lot and be happy, you achieve nothing and be happy. You achieve a lot and be miserable, and you can achieve nothing and be miserable. Happiness is an independent variable from achievement. This was such a great breakthrough for him. As he kept thinking once he achieved something else, he was going to be happier. I told him Safi, how much you got to achieve here before you declare victory? Let's say you already got a PhD in physics from Stanford, you need to get to, you're already worth 10s of millions, even hundreds of millions making difference. You've already successfully started four companies and you get happy after five. And you've already consulted with a few presidents. Are you more no matter if you're already a 99.99 on achievement?

Greg Voisen
You really Marshall. I like what Dr. Seek Morales says about happiness as a guy at Columbia talks about I know him, he's one of my 100 coaches. Okay, so he says you kind of start with having it isn't something you get when you have to just have it. In other words, it isn't something so much you pursue, you have to imbibe it. In other words, it's, it's part of Marsha you see it, you know, life is good. But you know that you end that because that's a mantra for you. You know, Marshall Smith's mantra Life is good. No more. So, there's this TEDx Talk Catherine Schultz, she did in 2011. About regret. She said that regret is the emotion we experience when we think that our present situation could be better or happier underline and if we had done something different to pass you on to state that regret is totally in our control. Can you speak to the list speak with us about the advice you gave. And the reason I picked out all and Alan Malala here is because I was in an event in San Diego and I met Alan, I wasn't certainly his coach, the loveliest man I'd ever met in my life, the most tremendous speaker I'd ever heard at this event in at the Convention Center in San Diego. But he had regrets about leaving Boeing and taking the position of CEO of Ford. How did you coach him through those regrets? I mean, this book well,

Marshall Goldsmith
actually, Elon doesn't have a lot of regrets as a person. And I think one reason he doesn't have regrets is he thinks if I didn't do something my dad regretted, and then he does it. So I think he's a person actually with very low levels of regret in life and of all people I've coached. I mean, I've learned so much from him. Well, one thing, by the way, a little bit of a diversion. One thing I'm proud of, in my book, if you look at the endorsements, is the first paragraph. The first paragraph in the endorsement section is me talking about how great they were not every time and how much I've learned from my wonderful clients. And you know, how lucky I am to be able to work with people like Alan, who's just a wonderful human being. And I'd say, you know, Elon is a great case study, he does three things at the same time. One, I'm working on new book with him right now. So one thing he does is he has a higher purpose in life. He's not doing this for money, he's got plenty of money and status, he doesn't need that. And he's still working at achieving things. He's working at a book and refining what he does. And he's happy. I'll tell you, his day to day happiness score be very, very high. I've known him. I've known him for 25 years, I'm not seeing him be unhappy in 25 years. So this guy is a really great role model for everything I teach. And that's the, you know, simultaneous pursuit of these things, what you can do. One other one about regret, though, is this. One of the parts of the book I really like is the every breath paradigm. Yeah, every time I take a breath, it's a new me Buddhist concept of impermanence. Every time I take a breath, it's a new me. Well, I tell people to do this everybody listening right now. Take a deep breath. Take a deeper breath. Now, every time I take a breath, it's a new me. So think new me. Everything that happened before the second in your life was done by an infinite set of people called the previous me's. Now, think of all the gifts those previous years have given to you that's here now. Think about the people they've helped. Think about how hard they tried. Will Feeny group of people do that many nice things? What would you say to those nice people?

Greg Voisen
Thank you,

Marshall Goldsmith
thank you. Now did they make a little mistake or to let it go? Let it go. Let it go. And don't sit there and criticize the previous versions of your yourself for being who they are. You know, LinkedIn, one of my most popular LinkedIn quotes is forgive other people for being who they are. And forgive yourself for expecting that they'd be somebody else. Well, we can apply that to our own life, forgive the previous versions of you for being who they were, and forgiving yourself for regretting that they weren't someone else.

Greg Voisen
So, self-forgiveness is a big one here, little sign on my desk. It's probably backwards, but it's on my desk all day long. I'll show you something else in a minute as well. So you state the official policy on regret in the pages of this book is to accept the inevitable but reduce it reduce its frequency, right? Which means we need to create a life of fulfillment we you know, we talked about happiness, six, the reason we didn't get all of us sick, so maybe we should go back and you can give me the other five. All right, well, the first one

Marshall Goldsmith
is, you need to be having a purpose, I'm going to do micro and macro. at a macro level, you need a purpose. And on a day to day levels, you need to be setting goals or objectives aligned with that purpose. Then the second thing is you need to be making progress toward achieving things related to that purpose, then you need to find meaning, every day you need to find meaning in life. And by the way, finding meaning doesn't mean you have a meaningful job, it means you create meaning where you are. One of my good friends is Gary Rich, who was CEO of WD 40, they had some the highest scores on meaning in the entire world of any corporation higher than children's hospitals. Now, you can't say making lubricants is more important than curing sick children. Yet, they found meaning they created meaning every day. The next one is Be happy, being happy and then they in other words are building positive relationships with people. And then the final one is being fully engaged and fully engaged in what you do. And if you that's about it. Now one thing I always teach is a daily question process every day if you just give yourself a test on in the questions, I'll start with a phrase my daughter Kelly told me this, I'm proud of my daughter. She had a PhD from Yale. And she's a full professor at Vanderbilt. Now. That's why I live in Nashville. Kelly taught me this, and asked questions to begin with, did I do my best to? Why you can't blame someone else? Is if you ask, were you happy? And someone says no, you know why it's their fault? If yes, did I do my best to be happy? Given the situation, did I do my best to find happiness? Did I do my best to create meaning that I do my best to ask those six questions every day? Just by asking those questions. Our research is amazing. You know, 3030 something 34% of people got better at everything. Two thirds got better at four things. 91% got better at something almost nobody gets worse. Why every day, these questions get us to focus on the one thing in life that we can control. Did I do my best? And by the way, doesn't say you were happy? Did you even try? Did you even think about being happy? In my book triggers that I talked about interviewing five or three medical doctors, three of the smartest people I've ever met Dr. Jim Kim, simultaneous MD and PhD with honors from Harvard in anthropology and five years, became president Darby College, head of partners and health and then President the World Bank, Dr. Raj Shah, who was head of the USA ID and is now head of the Rockefeller Foundation. And Dr. John Noseworthy, was the CEO of the Mayo Clinic. So you know, when the brains were first passed out, none of these guys are near the back of the line. All three individually asked the question, how would you score an average day? Did I do my best to be happy? Ultimately, the same answer? never dawned on me to try be happy. Never thought about it. Too busy achieving things. So I asked him, did it dawn on your you're going to die? Did they cover that medical school death? Did they cover that topic? He said, Yeah, they brought up that death thing. I said, Do you think this is a silly question or trivial question? I said, No, it is a very important question I forgot to ask. It's a very important question. I just got to as well ask yourself the question today, am I doing my best to be happy today? Am I making the best of it. And by the way, I'm a great believer in the Bhagavad Gita, the Bhagavad Gita. And you know, the Bhagavad Gita is pretty clear, it talks about somebody has a choice, bad and worse. Sometimes, you got a choice in life bad and worse, pick bad, make the best of it. You got a choice between bad and worse, take bad, make the best of it, you're not going to doing better, you're not going to turn bad to good, just make the best of the bad?

Greg Voisen
Well, that whole concept around, you know, look for 100% responsibility for we take 100% When we should take 100% responsibility for how we feel our emotions, our actions, everything. And once you get that, that you realize that when the other thing is around your beliefs and the attachments and that and what you were talking about impermanence, because finitude I know. So well, just this last two years, I lost two brothers, not to COVID. But you know, you were asking those doctors something, hey, in medical school, did you guys actually, you know, think about this never dawned on us to be happy? Well, you should be happy when you go to work that way. Now, you tell three great stories in the introduction. And I thought it was great, because one of your guys was named Leonard. That's my legal name, first name Leonard. And Leonard was the only one who got it right, actually. And you tell the stories about three people that you coached. And Leonard was able to succeed at accepting what was and eliminate his regrets. What advice would you give to our listeners about non attachment and eliminating beating themselves up over their regrets?

Marshall Goldsmith
Well, the first thing is forgive yourself. Yeah. And then what happens is we feel bad, then we feel bad about feeling bad, then we feel bad about feeling bad about feeling bad. Well, you don't have to do that. And whatever you did in the past, you did. Right, let it go. You know, and here's why Buddhism is so hard to understand for people in the West. The essence of Buddhism is now and when I say there's only one second in life, you need to learn to be happy. It's now people that means that they think it means I have to be happy every second. And I started saying well, what if so and so happens, I might not be happy, but totally misses the point. The point is not you have to be happy every second is the opposite of that point. So one seconds need to be happy now. Right? Just focus on now. If you're going to sit there and worry about something might happen or might not happen in five years, you're going to get bummed out by that month. All right, you're not going to be happy. Well, you're not living now. You're living in a dream. So really, I think important to focus on now. Now, now,

Greg Voisen
well, and I it, and I concur with you and I and I remember, Jim Laura was back on the show, again, not that long ago. His book was a power of full engagement, if you remember. Yes. And, and it was around energy management. And the reason I'm mentioning this is because so much of our energy is spent, you know, I this kind of sound like a broken record here. But the imagined future and the dead past? Well, you know, the reality is, you know, when I do meditation retreats in the orcas islands, they have these monks that come. And they say, Well, what do you, you know, one of my friends is, what would you guys want? Because they had no watches, they said, well, we'd actually like to have a watch. And they said, Well, why would you want to watch? And they put a skull and crossbones at the top of the bed, and they wanted a watch, right? I thought this is a great story. And they said, well, because we're trying to figure out, or what we would like to know is how much time we have left. Right? Not what time it is. So interesting. Now, the operative definition of the earned life is we are living in earned life when the choices risks and efforts we make in each moment, each moment align with an overarching purpose in our lives, which you just said, regardless of the eventual outcome outcomes, right? You state that something truly earned makes three simple requirements of us. Can you speak with the listeners about the three simple requirements of the earned life?

Marshall Goldsmith
What are they?

Greg Voisen
Maybe you don't, don't remember, I don't know that took it out of the bag.

Marshall Goldsmith
I cover so many things, you got to realize it's three requirements and sixes,

Greg Voisen
tell our listeners is Marshall doesn't know. So go buy the book. How's that? When you buy every book, when you buy the book, you have this free course. Yeah, I want to mention that maybe this is a great time to mention it. He's got a full on mean email. Yes. So when you buy the book, you send him an email, and he's going to give you this free online course that you've got, right? And I would encourage everybody to go to Marshall goldsmith.com. And we'll just skip that question. Because it doesn't really matter. But the reality is, the answer is in the book. So if you want if you want the answer, you got to go in the book. And the reason is, I didn't write down the three statements, Marshall. Our sense of fulfillment, happiness simply doesn't last, that we've that the earned life is imperative and a fragile vessel to contain our wishes and desires for an earned life. Speak with the listeners about the influence that the philosophy has Buddhism has had on your perspective, about attachment and impermanence in life, because you started studying it when you were 18. You put a little cliff note in the bottom of the book. I don't think in any of your other books, of course, I could be wrong, where you actually disclosed that. Okay. But this time at age, what's your age now?

Marshall Goldsmith
7373. So

Greg Voisen
you and I are five years apart, you start to let people see in the window a little bit more and see where your philosophy is coming from. And I thought that was really, really nice of you. Because I didn't know that about you. But when I read it, I assumed that that was where you're coming from. So tell our listeners if you would what, what up there with the impermanence and the attachment?

Marshall Goldsmith
Well, as a coach, I use Buddhism all the time. Let me tell you a few ways. One is feedforward. Buddha said only do what I teach you. If it works for you. If it doesn't work for you, it's okay. Just don't do it. That is so freeing. So in my program with these 50 grade people, every weekend, they would practice feed forward over and over. Each person says, Here's what I feel good about. Here's what I want to do better than say, give me ideas for the future, not feedback about the past. Everyone gives them ideas for a future and they say thank you, then another person, other person or the person, other person. People love this because it's positive, it's upbeat, it's helpful, and nobody's getting judged. No one, they're accountable, but they're not judged. Nobody's been judged by anything. So that's one element of Buddhism I use. Another element of Buddhism I use it's really central is that we're constantly reinventing ourselves. So Coach, people will say things like this. Oh, I'm a bad listener. I can't listen. I've never been able to listen, I can't listen. So I look in their ears say, Well, you got some stuck in there. Why can't you listen? Well we talk about ourselves is we if we have incurable genetic defects who will last permanently Throughout our lives, as opposed to saying, you know, in the past, I haven't listened very much. But in a future where I can listen, I'm not stuck with this. And it's very important point, if you don't do this, let's say your self-image is I'm a bad listener, and I'm your coach. And let's say you work very hard. And people say you're a good listener. If you don't work on the way you define yourself as a human being, you're not, you're going to feel on the inside, you feel like a phony. You know what you're going to say, that's not the real me. That's not the real me. You see, the real me is a bad listener. That's the real me. I just acted like a good listener. But that's not real. You have this weird idea of this real me that goes through life never changing, as opposed to saying, Look, to me, that's here today is not the same. That was 10 years ago, or five years ago, or last week. One story in the book that people love is the story of the guy. And he's with his wife, and they had a great, great weekend with the kids, and they're driving back home. And the wife starts going on, well, 10 years ago, you didn't do this, and this, and you could have done this. And we could have had this and that. And you know what he said, You're right. I'm not the same person as I was 10 years ago. I really think I'm a better person than it was 10 years ago. And you know, that person 10 years ago, made some mistakes. I'm not the person. And his wife said, You're right. You're right. You're not that person, you're a better person. Why am I bringing up what some guy did 10 years ago, that guy's not in this car right now. That guy's not in this car. You're not that guy. You're a different person. And I think that's a great way to look at life is, you know, we're not who we were 10 years ago, or five years ago, or one hour ago. We're a different person. And that's it. We're constantly evolving in life.

Greg Voisen
Well, what a great introspection because awareness is the only thing that creates that So her question actually allowed us an opportunity for a dialogue that then allowed the two of them to kind of come together to have this realization and that awareness. We don't ever know who's going to give us that awareness are going to pop the question. Well, one thing that I've become good at is asking question after having done 900 And something is bought gas. Use. You spoke on the way

Marshall Goldsmith
that's an interesting element of the book. It says the lost art of asking.

Greg Voisen
Right, I did see that in there. I've got I got

Marshall Goldsmith
an exercise for everybody. Are you ready? Yes, I am a fun exercise. Alright. Alright. I asked in my classes I was do you think customer satisfaction is important? Yes. Should we ask our customers for input? Yes. Should we listen to our customers? Yes. You have a husband, wife or partner at home? Yes. Have you been asking that person? What can I do to better partner? No. So I have people take out everybody who's listening, take out your cell phone, and send a text message to your husband, wife or partner and ask one question, What can I do to be a better partner? Yeah, it's a great exercise

Greg Voisen
in and you know what half of them would fall off their chair? Because they're wondering, where was this person today? Who gave

Marshall Goldsmith
hilarious things? Let me tell you some of my favorite responses. One is who has stolen my husband's cell phone? Are you drunk? You know, is this message intended for me? Who have you been sleeping with?

Greg Voisen
Exactly? Yeah, I can imagine that you get all those in more? Well, it's, it's, it's fascinating. And the book is wonderful because it gives an opportunity to people to deep dive in introspection, and look at regret and look at fulfillment in their life and look at the continuum and look at ways to do that. And, you know, you speak with the listeners, if you would, we you mentioned it the Great Western disease of what Buddha called The Hungry Ghost. I don't think a lot of people have heard the term the hungry ghosts. So more importantly, please give the listeners your advice on how to avoid getting sucked into the mire of life and living the illusion. Because the reality here is if we're going to go with Buddhism, we might as well go a little bit deeper even here now. Because this this maya, this thing that sucks people in to the fact that they believe that what it is I know many of my listeners know the term. Some people listening may not right, but could you could you give them some advice about how to avoid that. How to avoid that trap. Because you said a minute ago, you go buy a new car, you get the Tesla you buy the house on the hill, you buy the bla bla bla bla bla bla bla, you went down a whole list of things, you're going to be happy. Right? Well, that's the Maya that I'm talking about here.

Marshall Goldsmith
Right? into me, the key is as your journey through life, you just ask yourself, look, am I doing my best? Is this something that's related to my long term ambition in life? And then you ask yourself, you know, am I enjoying this ride? am I enjoying what I'm doing right now? If the answer is yes, that's it. Now, the results are going to be what they're going to be. You don't have total control over the results of much of anything. You could get run over by car tomorrow, you didn't control COVID, you know, the results are going to be what they're going to be. I'm not saying you don't try to achieve things. Yet you don't place your value as a human being based on achievement. It is a fool's game. It is a fool's game. If you saw the bios of the 50 people I spent COVID period with every weekend, you'd think these people if achievement would make you happy, they'd all be dancing off the ceiling every day. They're all in 99.99 in terms of achievement, right? Well, it's not bad to achieve. On the other hand, you achieve to achieve, you don't achieve to be happy. You don't achieve to find peace, finding peace to find peace, as Sreekumar said, be happy to be happy. But don't believe that I'm going to achieve something's going to make me happy because it never ends. The Hungry Ghost. The Hungry Ghost is you're always eating but you're never full. Or whatever you achieve. What's the next thing next year? Next year? Albert, Burleigh Pfizer? How was your year? Hey, well, came up with vaccine good employee engagement. Hi, good book. Good see of the year. Good. Good, good. Good. What's your problem next year? I think anybody that bought that stock cares if he came up with a vaccine. Now, you think they care how what they did last year? Zero. Next year, there's always going to be next year. And look at this. Michael Phelps 25 gold medals. What do you think about doing killing himself?

Greg Voisen
Yeah, yeah. Interesting. He's been on that. advocating that application for mental health, which is very cool. So that being the case, you know, look? If not, if that is the case, that is the case. We know that you're so calling that the Great Western disease. And I concur. That is it. Getting there and then being able to sustain this level of happiness, you're saying there's a continuum, it goes back and forth, be able to live with that be able to accept it. So and I think the key is, and I might be wrong here, but I obviously think I'm on the right track. It's around accepting where you are. And just saying that's okay. I am where I am. I am where I am. Right? I

Marshall Goldsmith
am where I am. And you know, I mean, my last podcast with my friend Dave Chang was just a great guy. And his call colleague Chris it Well, yeah. I said, What about our typical listeners? They're not like us. Just describe 127 years old tech guy Berkeley, striving to get ahead looking at you think it easy for that guy to talk? You know, he's rich, he's written famous books. He works to great people blah, blah, blah. Easy for you to say as a you know what? Had kid so I'm I don't have 45 years. Yeah. I don't have 45 years. No one's he wasn't best-selling books. Okay, give me 45 years, we got to deal. You're going to have the damn book as All right. Well, you don't look at life and say I wish I was him. Yeah, you really want to be 73? Maybe not. I mean, I'm happy being me. But I don't think if I were 27, I want to be 73 You have been 27

Greg Voisen
Most definitely. Now, the every Beth paradigm connect to living and earned life. You say? I say how does the every Beth paradigm connect to the living in life, you say that connection is immediate and direct as flipping a switch to fill a dark room with light. And where there's darkness the light serves the darkness. If we accept that everything of value that we have earned is impermanent, subject to the whims and in differences of the world, which you just mentioned. We must also accept the prized possessions needed to consequently re earned practically on a daily and hourly basis, perhaps as frequently as every breath. That's right. Can you explain what you mean? I think you have but you know what, there's something about repeating things three times. And you understand this as being a great public speaker. You know, you repeat something three times and sometimes people get it right. So,

Marshall Goldsmith
well, I'm asked a question is Buddhism about reincarnation? To me Buddhism is about nothing but reincarnation. Everything is reincarnation, every breath is reincarnation. Every breath is a new me. Every breath is a new me and we get a new start, we get a chance to start over. And we get a chance to be something different. And we get that we get that chance. And I think the key is when you look at life that way. It makes life a lot different. It's a very nonwestern thing. Let me give you an example. Some people says Does that mean you don't care about achievement? No, I didn't say that. Let's take the example of I didn't I didn't tell the story of the golfer in the bureau candidate know, the golfer and American. So there's the guy in the country club, and he's got a chance to win his little Club Championship. He's teeing off on a team. In front of him. There's a drunk people drinking and making noise very annoying. And he breathed concentrate. It's a perfect drive. The perfect drive. Looks good. But then Ulsan it hits something goes into the rough, terrible life. He walks toward the ball and what does he see a bear? Can the idiots in front of him have left a beer can? He's very angry. How could they have done this? What is it called for me to do? Stop and breathe? stop and breathe. Forget about those people. Forget about the drive. Forget about the results. Forget about winning the Club Championship, come up with a strategy of what you want to do. You walk to the ball, and you hit the shot in front of you. The other thing about the golfer is enjoy the process. You're in some little country club. You're not a pro golfer. Enjoy, what are you there for, you're not going to be Arnold Palmer, have a good time, have a good time, hit the shot, make peace and move on. Well make sense. You don't necessarily hit a worst shot, you probably had a better shot. Because you're not focused on the past which you can change. You're not focused on the future, which may or may not happen. You're actually just focused on one thing just hit the shot. You know, Coach K that coach at Duke is a good thing. He watches a player miss a shot. And they act sad or sad or angry. What do you say next play. Next play he watches a player make a great shot his job, no shirt. No, he says next play. You got to like, you got to let go the past,

Greg Voisen
I think life as you know, and we get to be the age we are. It's all about the next play. And all in all you can do is pay homage and respect to all the plays prior to this play. Meaning this play in this moment, this podcast in this moment. Hey, look, I did 900 And something before this one, this is 900. And something this is like this is great. I couldn't be any better. And I think that's the way you have to look at it. And that way, what happens is happiness just happens. Because you're doing that. So you created a two letter exercise for people that intellectually understood the Everett bet paradigm, but haven't developed the muscle memory that makes it natural and instinctive in their lives. And that's an important point. Can you explain the two letter exercise and what our listeners can expect to experience? If they engage in that exercise? And it's yes, actually, remember

Marshall Goldsmith
that went the exercise two letters. One letter is you write a letter to a previous version of yourself. And you write a letter and you say thank you to this previous version of you, thank you for learning to speak Chinese or thank you for studying Buddhism or whatever it happens to be. You think my life today is better because of this thing you did back then. And you're like you said, pay homage a good phrase, you're paying homage to that person, you're saying thank you previous mean, thank you for doing that for me. And then a secondary exercise, you write a letter to the future you and you say to the future, you know, I'm going to make some investments right now. I'm investing in you. And here's what I hope happens as a result of my investments. So you're really given the future you some ideas of here's what I'm doing now for you. And here's what I hope works for you. And here's what I'd like to see you do. I think it's a great exercise. The negative example I used as the CEO who basically said I worked 80 hours a week for 40 years with one goal. So my kids would never have to work as hard as I did. Then he said the worst thing I could have ever done for my children, for myself, for my family and for life. Kids are spoiled. They have no work ethic. They don't like me. I don't know my wife. bad use of 40 years.

Greg Voisen
A long time but don't have regret. Dude, if that's where his head is at, and I get that that's very, very powerful. But what's powerful is the awareness not to have the regret about what it was you did right now? Yeah. So you spent 40 years doing that you did it. But that doesn't mean that's the way you have to be going forward. Change. Because those previous

Marshall Goldsmith
US gave you a lot of money. Yeah. gave you some neat stuff. Yeah. How can you take what they gave you and make the best of it?

Greg Voisen
Right. Right. You know, you, you I've done. You said, you spent eight days a year teaching leadership course at Goldman Sachs executives and their top clients. You work with Mark Trebek, I think it is, Teddy said to turn at Goldman, you tell his great story about creating his own life and what was stopping him from claiming his new career in life? Because this one was actually a shift in careers. Total shift.

Marshall Goldsmith
Yeah. So Mark is just a great friend of mine, just a wonderful guy. And was mega successful at Goldman Sachs. He was, I think, one of the top five people in the company when they did the IPO. And if you know what that means, that means you don't ever have to work again, you get more money he's going to spend in many lifetimes. So then mark gets this opportunity to be the CEO of the Nature Conservancy, which he really would love. But he's second, well, what will they think of me? And I told him what he has talked about change his life, is it live your own life? Who are they don't live some other person's version of your life? It's your life. And don't sit there and say, what would they think of me? Number one, they don't care. You think they're going to hold it against you? Because you're the CEO of the Nature Conservancy. No, you leave Goldman Sachs, you create a little more space, somebody thinks your customers and move into your office, they're probably all happy going anyway, they don't care. And you're not doing good deeds. God bless you. You don't have to apologize for that. Well, you don't live your own life. It was great, because a good boy wants to live my own life.

Greg Voisen
Very good. It was a great story in the book, by the way. Well look in wrapping the interview up, and then I'm going to show you something. The urn life, it has so much practical advice and guidance for individuals wanting to live a fulfilled life without regrets. What three takeaways, either something we've already talked about, or something that we haven't talked about, would you leave the listeners with? As we kind of wrap up this podcast?

Marshall Goldsmith
I say, I would take away one takeaway is have a higher aspiration, have an answer to the question, Why? Why am I doing this? Why. And then number two, focus on your ambitions or achievement. So you're doing something about that aspiration. It's not just a pipe dream, you're actually achieving something that's helping you get there and three, enjoy the process. And in my life, my higher aspiration is, I just want to help as many people as I can, in the limited time I have left to do it and hopefully help them now. And then after I'm no longer with us. That's the higher aspiration doesn't have a target my, my immediate achievement is being honest with you.

Greg Voisen
But you're going to reincarnate martial, and then you're going to come back smarter, more handsome, and then you're going to write more, but wait

Marshall Goldsmith
a minute, smarter, maybe more handsome, that's got to be a stretch. Then and then the final thing you just have a good time Life is short. You know, my, my new research is not published yet indicates we're all going to be equally dead here. So I think yeah, I think it's a pretty safe bet. So yeah, just enjoy this process of life. And we're all going to die anyway, just enjoy the process of life. And so that's about it. And then, and again, no one can define meaning for you, but you, I can't tell you what's going to be meaningful for you. And I can't tell you what's going to make you happy. Those answers that look in here, whatever that is, for you do that. Whatever that is for you. You just do that. And as the mark person storage point, no one else can tell you that.

Greg Voisen
Well, Marshall, another wonderful book. I should stay that, you know, I know Mark Ritter is the co author has been on many of your books. Oh, I have four of them. Right? We have one. And I want to give you recognition because you know, behind the scenes, these books don't get written by themselves. I'm working on one right now with a mountain climber has climbed all the highest seven summits in Everest twice. And I've interviewed all these guys who've gone up and just climb in, you name it every mountain climber. And it's very interesting the correlation that we've talked about here. And you know, this, this, this whole concept and I'm just saying to write a good book. It is a huge project. And Marshall, I just want to commend mark and you Namaste to both of you Ever such a wonderful work, because it's articulated so well. And so well put together, easy to follow. Great book to read. And something that really gets people to think deep about their life, how they're living their life, and how they can better their life. And you've always done that with every book, but this one in particular, I think adds more. So, thank you. Thank you for doing that.

Marshall Goldsmith
Thank you. Thank you, and thank you for inviting me very much.

Greg Voisen
Oh, you're quite welcome. Namaste.

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