A Great Lesson for Work and for Life

By Marshall Goldsmith

Chester Elton, member of the 100 Coaches Pay-It Forward project, expert on the topics of culture and the multigenerational workplace, one of the most influential voices in our field today, and #1 bestselling author of the books, All In, The Carrot Principle, and The Best Team Wins, recently asked me about the impact Stakeholder Centered Coaching has on the personal lives of those I coach and those who participate in it. Below is an excerpt from our interview.

Chester: Marshall you’ve got this wonderful stakeholder coaching that you do with executives, and of course, it makes executives better. What I love about it is how it impacts personal lives. Can you expand on that a little bit?

Marshall: Yes – great question. As part of stakeholder coaching, you ask the most important people in your life, “How can I be better?” It’s interesting because I’ll ask people, do you believe customer satisfaction is important? “Yes!” they say. Should we ask our customers how we can be better? “Of course!” Should we listen to them? “Yes!” Are you married? “Yes.” Have you asked your husband, wife, or partner how you can be a better partner? Silence.

Marshall Goldsmith Meme

We need to do this not only at work, we also need to do this at home. Ask how can I be a better husband, a better wife, a better friend, a better partner? How can I be a better parent? When my daughter, Kelly, was 11 and my son, Bryan, was nine, I began asking my children, “what can I do to be a better father?” The problem with asking a question is you get the answer.

My daughter said, “Daddy, you travel a lot. That’s not what bothers me. What bothers me is the way you act when you come home. You talk on the telephone. You watch sports. You don’t spend much time with me.” She said, “One time it was Saturday and I wanted to go to a party at my friend’s house, and mommy didn’t let me go to that party. I had to stay home and spend time with you, and then you spent no time with me and that wasn’t right.”

What could I say? Thank you. Daddy, must do better. I said, “Daddy’s going to improve.” I said, “I’m gonna keep track of how many days I can spend four hours with my family.” 1991, 92 days. 1992, 110 days. 1993, 131 days. 1994, 135 days. I made more money the year I spend 135 days four hours with my family than when I spent 20 days. What did I learn? The San Diego Chargers, American football team, really do not care about me. I learned something two years ago that the San Diego Chargers, American football team, really do not care about San Diego! They’re the Los Angeles Chargers.

Marshall Goldsmith Meme

Now, it was January 1, 1995. Both kids were teenagers. Daddy was proud. I’ve got my charts. I said, “Kids, look. 135 days four hours with daddy. What goal this year? How about 150?” They both said, “No, daddy, no. You have overachieved. Overachieved.” My son said, “50 is a better number to go for.” They both voted for a massive cutback with daddy.

I learned a good lesson. When they’re little, it’s good to do this. Why? They need us. They get older, it’s important for a different reason. We need them.

Chester: That’s a great life lesson Marshall. Thank you!

Marshall Goldsmith Meme
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