The Antidote to Goal Obsession

Marshall Goldsmith's New Book Offers A Path to Fulfillment

Did you encounter a silver lining from the past pandemic era?

I certainly did. I witnessed an extraordinary number of people who paused, and confronted their existential crisis head-on.

In The Earned Life, Marshall Goldsmith and co-author Mark Reiter meticulously capture the existential moments that we endured. In Section One, Marshall describes how CEO clients become goal-obsessed. It leaves them feeling empty and deflated. He has witnessed these behaviors at the highest levels; he only coaches successful CEOs and nonprofit leaders who want to get better.

Marshall and Lisa celebrate the 100 Coaches reunion in NYC

I witness this first hand as well. It surfaces when I am advising CMOs and CEOs who confuse their organization’s vision and purpose with a financial goal. They are not the same! Yet, time and again, a senior leader will try to convince me that their business goal galvanizes people. It often sounds like “We want to be a $1B company in 5 years,” inspires their teams. 

Trust me, it seldom does. In the marketing and CMO groups I host, it fuels higher team disengagement and costly team turnover.

Marshall’s “Triple A’s” fulfillment coaching model captivated me. It is the perfect antidote to Western society’s obsession with “more/better/faster!”  He explains how we can design a life of joy and fulfillment by incorporating and aligning three variables:

  1. Actions – what we do now to advance our goals and dreams
  2. Ambition – what we want to accomplish; our specific goals
  3. Aspiration – who we want to become; a state of being; the long game

Most of us (myself included) will overlook Aspiration. It’s much easier to stay in Ambition/Action mode, knocking things off our daily “to do” list.

Ambition has merit; that’s for certain. Yet it is also fleeting and impermanent.

It reminds me of the time I earned a six-figure commission in 2009. It felt great—for a few days. I placed an order for my first Mercedes-Benz convertible. There I sat, soaking up the sun while cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway in Del Mar, California. But I still had not asked “What do I really want? What’s my mission?”

That initial ambition buzz energized me. Then it quickly faded.

As Marshall says, “Aspiration keeps us moving forward…it is one of the more effective regret avoidance mechanisms in our lives.” It wasn’t until 2012 that my mission and aspiration began to take form. They have anchored me through relocation, divorce, family grief, and more.

Growth at any cost is not worth the cost. I share more about goal obsession in The Mindful Marketer and EnergizeGrowth NOW.

During my publishing journey, Marshall inspired me and endorsed my work. We enjoy a shared interest in Buddhist philosophy.

Here’s what Buddhism has taught me: wallowing in the past, and giving our regrets a front row seat in our minds, only foments more suffering.

For me personally, the antidote to suffering is maintaining my daily focus on my aspiration: to help marketing leaders build stronger companies AND better lives.

That’s why I intend to use the Triple A’s (with attribution) in my future coaching engagements.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to live their best life, and manage regrets with grace and acceptance. If you lead marketing teams, and want to retain your best people, give them a copy to help them map out their careers.

Thank you, Marshall, for accepting me into the 100 Coaches Community and bringing your wisdom to millions.

To order your copy of The Earned Life, click here. Aspire to find more peace, not more possessions.


copyright 2022, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.


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