Marshall Goldsmith has been recognized as the #1 Leadership Thinker of our time. This author, speaker, thought leader and Brain Matters keynote speaker recently wrote an article for Talent Management magazine called “6 Engaging Questions to Ask.” The idea is that if you consciously focus on a behavior change every day you will achieve a change in a dramatically short period of time. Dr. Goldsmith based his questions on existing research and conducted his own study to test the technique. He asked a group of professionals to ask themselves six questions about engagement once a day and then measured their level of engagement before and after ten days. He’s conducted this study 79 times with 2,527 participants and the results are consistent. People become measurably more engaged simply by holding themselves accountable to try. In these studies, participants were actually teaching their own brains to become more engaged with their work. As Goldsmith says, “Given people’s demonstrable reluctance to change at all, this study shows that active self-questioning can trigger a new way of engaging with our world.”
Why does it work?
What is perhaps most remarkable is that Goldsmith has managed to show measurable change in only ten days, where previous studies had shown that you need at least 60 days to change behavior. Why is his technique so much more effective? I think it may be because of the use of intention coupled with a growth mindset. By asking these questions every day, participants set a target for the brain. Once targeted, the brain becomes a powerful guided missile. Reinforcing the target and adjusting aim on a daily basis served to turn that focus into a laser-like intensity. Implicit in these questions is a firm belief that improvement is possible.
It makes sense that you could apply this same method to any desirable behavior change. I’m going to give it a try and I’ll let you know my results in a future post. Here are the six questions for Marshall’s engagement studies:
- Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
- Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?
- Did I do my best to find meaning for today?
- Did I do my best to be happy today?
- Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
- Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?
Learn more about Marshall Goldsmith
- Read the full article here.
- Catch Marshall’s podcast here.
- Buy his book, Triggers, on Margie’s Bookshelf.
Join the Learningtogo Study
I’m going to conduct my own ten-day test on a behavioral goal of my own and I’m inviting you to join me. All you have to do is write six questions targeting a change you want to make in your life, using Goldsmith’s questions as a guide, and let me know the results after 10 days. The first 5 people who reply will receive a signed copy of Brain Matters: How to help anyone learn anything using neuroscience.