As a coach, it is very important that you encourage your clients to adopt daily routines that can add to their specific as well as overall growth & productivity. Once a routine is established, it’s easier to follow rather than having to re-motivate yourself each day to put in the work.
This is where the Daily Questions Process comes in!
What Is the Marshall Goldsmith Daily Questions Process?
The Daily Question process was coined by Marshall Goldsmith (pioneer of the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching methodology) and is based on the principle of active questioning as opposed to passive questioning.
An example of passive questioning is: “Do you have clear goals?”
Why is it passive? Because it can cause people to think what is being done to them instead of what they are doing to themselves.
And the idea is not that there is inherently something wrong with passive questioning. Passive questions can be extremely useful to help companies understand what they can do to improve. On the other hand, passive questioning also enables people to ‘pass the buck’ and avoid personal responsibility.
The alternative to this is ‘active questioning’ where instead of asking “do you have clear goals?” you ask “did you do your best to set clear goals for yourself?”. The former, in the context of organisations, tries to determine the individual’s state of mind, whereas the latter challenges the individual to either describe or defend a course of action. And that makes all the difference!
In Marshall Goldsmith’s research involving over 2,500 people, this method of asking daily questions has led people to enjoy higher satisfaction in life. Marshall has had over 100,000 people all over the world write their own questions as part of his training program!
How to Set Up the Marshall Goldsmith Daily Questions Process
It’s a simple two-step process:
- Ask your client to generate a list of questions – these can also be generated over a coaching conversation or done as homework and should be based on what they think are aligned best with their values and will help them achieve the desired outcome (for example increased happiness/fulfilment, etc.).
- Design a process to encourage the client to ask themselves and answer those questions twice a day: once in the morning before they start their day and once at night before they retire. They can maintain a physical or digital diary for the same.
Essentially, asking these questions in the morning helps the client clarify what they need to do before the day ends and asking them at night starts the process in the subconscious part of the brain when they sleep.
Marshall Goldsmith’s 6 Daily Questions
The following are the questions that Marshall Goldsmith asks himself on a daily basis. Interestingly they all begin with “Did I do my best to…” to maintain the active status of the questions:
1. Did I do my best to increase my happiness?
2. Did I do my best to find meaning?
3. Did I do my best to be engaged?
4. Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
5. Did I do my best to set clear goals?
6. Did I do my best to make progress toward goal achievement?
The answers to these questions are a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Now, what Marshall says is that these questions work for him because they reflect his values and may not work for you and your life, so you would need to alter them accordingly. But the essence of it remains the same: frame the questions in a way that makes it impossible for an individual to blame anyone else for their failure and keeps them accountable!
More Sample Questions
The questions above are great starting points for your clients to build on their own set of questions that reflect their values and help towards the achievement of their goals and desires. Once your clients are done with the ‘yes or no’ type of questions they can build on it and add questions that let them expand further and gather more insights, such as:
- What are you going to start doing, or doing more of?
- What are you already doing that you are going to continue to do?
- What are you going to accept, i.e., what are you not doing now but may need to start doing?
- What are you going to stop doing?
These are just a few examples of questions your clients can ask themselves to help them cultivate a more productive routine. It can get as specific as needed depending on their life situations. A few examples of such questions are as follows:
- How many minutes did I spend writing?
- How many sit-ups did I do?
- How much time did I spend outdoors in nature?
- Did I say or do something nice for my family?
Why this process works so well is because it forces us to confront how we live our values in our everyday lives. Either something matters to us or it doesn’t – and each person has the choice and ability to curate their own set of values by which they wish to live. If we believe in living by a value, we can frame a question around it and put it on our list – and actually do it. If a value is not important, then we can face that reality and let go of chasing after it!
Try It Yourself!
The best teachers and coaches learn from applying their learnings & teachings on themselves first! So, we highly recommend trying out the Marshall Goldsmith Daily Question process on yourself and see how it works for you. Imagine a person was going to call you every day and listen to you answer questions about your life. What questions would you want to ask yourself, every day? Try this for 2 weeks and see how it works for you.
PS: Fun fact! Marshall Goldsmith actually pays a person to call him every day to just listen to him read his questions and provide answers.
When someone asked him about why there was a need to pay someone to do this when he knows so much about behavioural change, he replied, “I wrote the theory. That’s why I pay someone to call me. I know how difficult this is to do on my own.”
Pretty interesting, isn’t it!
1. What is the daily questions process?
The Daily Questions Process is a process coined by Marshall Goldsmith to keep oneself accountable to seeing behavioural changes on a day-to-day basis. It is designed to help you help yourself in living your best life, whatever that may mean to you.
2. What are the 6 questions in the Daily Question Process?
Here are the 6 questions in Marshall Goldsmith’s Daily Question Process:
- Did I do my best to increase my happiness?
- Did I do my best to find meaning?
- Did I do my best to be engaged?
- Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
- Did I do my best to set clear goals?
- Did I do my best to make progress toward goal achievement?
All of these questions, interestingly, begin with ‘did I do my best…’ to ensure that an individual maintains active responsibility towards each aspect in their life.
3. Who designed the Daily Questions Process?
The Daily Questions Process was designed by Marshall Goldsmith, the world-renowned executive leadership coach and author, and the pioneer of the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching program.
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