The Six Daily Questions That Held Me Accountable


I have always been a curious person and searching to see what some of the best Executive Coaches are doing to engage people. The person that I would like to discuss today is Marshall Goldsmith. He has written several top selling books such as Triggers, What got you here won’t get your there, and many others. What I really appreciated about his style is that he is rather direct and really challenges people to think differently.

The one tactic that stood out was that he has his secretary call him every day to answer the same 32 questions. At first, I thought that this seems like a bit much. He explains those were important goals and tasks that he wanted to remind himself or complete. This was a level of accountability that I have never seen before. As I heard more about this, I quickly grabbed my pen and paper and started writing away.

The six questions that I found very impactful all started with “Did I do my best to…”.These were:

Did I do my best to:

  • Set clear goals?

  • Make progress in achieving those goals?

  • Find Meaning?

  • Be Happy?

  • Build positive relationships?

  • Be fully engaged?

At first, I enjoyed the simplicity of these closed ended questions and it definitely got me thinking that I should definitely give this a try. Goldsmith ranks his answers from a scale of 1 to 10. I would keep it simple by just answering “yes” or “no” and trust my gut. I am quite a visual analytical person and decided to create a spreadsheet, of course. I printed and attached it to my clipboard which I have by my bedside. Every morning and evening, I review my priorities, similar to Goldsmith’s secretary did with him.

What really stood out to me was as I filled in the boxes, others were left empty. It was quite an eye opener to realize that some of these activities were not being completed for days, especially the first of Goldsmith’s questions, “Did I do my best to set clear goals?”.

How can I make the most of my day if I am not setting clear goals?

The visualization of seeing boxes unchecked gave me the wake up call that I needed. Before I know it, I was carving out dedicated time to ensure that these personal goals were getting addressed. This process was not easy all of the time. Let’s face it; there were days that were really tough. Also, times that I honestly could not check off the “Did I do my best to being happy?” and “build positive relationships?” box because I was simply off my game. Completing this activity before I headed to bed gave me an opportunity to allow for self-reflection and a constant reminder that I am working on being my ultimate self, which is not going to happen overnight. However, this was important to me as a person, and the wonderful people around me.

As I continued this process over the last seven months, it was interesting to see the changes that I felt. Every new accomplishment was celebrated and personal goals were being achieved. More than I could have ever expected. That personal sense of accomplishment was building momentum in other parts of my life as well. Many of my friends and family asked me what I was doing because I had a higher level of energy and engagement, which they hadn’t seen in a while. Their compliments continue to build upon on my other successes.

I wanted to thank Mr. Goldsmith for sharing your process, making myself and many others, to build a better future for ourselves and those around us. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Marshall Goldsmith in action, click here to see the clip that got me started. Get your paper and pen ready. You are going to need it.

If you are interested in seeing other great posts, like us on Facebook @ybrcoachingandconsulting. There is a new post every week.

James Amarelo

Founder and President - Yellow Brick Road

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