How To Execute Your Ideas

Best selling author and executive coach, Dr. Marshall Goldsmith just announced his pay-it-forward project, 100 Coaches, where one hundred leaders agreed to teach others what they know. For free

Goldsmith came up with the idea in my Design the Life You Love program, where I ask attendants to name their heroes and their qualities. Goldsmith's epiphany was that all of his heroes--from Frances Hesselbein of The Girl Scouts to Peter Drucker, the founder of modern management--were all "great, generous teachers" who taught him what they knew for free. Goldsmith decided then to give away everything he knows to others for free. 

It took Goldsmith a year and half to go from idea to launching his program. Today 100 Coaches counts corporate CEO's and executives, university deans, executive coaches, Thinkers50 winners, best-selling authors and entrepreneurs among its cohorts. 

Here are my observations about how he got from idea to execution--using a 7-step template I developed to help executives implement their ideas--

1. Define your telos.

Telos, from Greek, is an ultimate aim or core function. A knife's telos is cutting, a writer's telos is writing or telling stories. Marshall's telos is giving. 

What is yours? Knowing your telos helps you be precise about your purpose.

2. Prototype your idea.

Goldsmith didn't go from 0 to 100 in a day. He prototyped 100 Coaches over 1.5 years, starting small and growing.

Goldsmith developed his content and prototyped it seven to eight times, testing ideas out with cohorts and collaborators, getting feedback and using each prototype to refine, demonstrate and socialize, on social media and professional networks, the idea. 

Prototype your idea to demonstrate, refine and socialize it until it is fully formed.

3. List your to-dos.

Atul Gawande, in his book The Checklist Manifesto, says that good checklists are precise, to the point, and practical.

Goldsmith's would probably look like this--

1. Find out who is interested.

2. Teach them everything you know at no charge.

3. Inspire them do the same for others when it's their turn.

4. Lead by example.

What are your to-dos, your checklist? You might not know all the details, but write down three things you need to do or plan to accomplish, for clarity and focus.

4. Make it public.

If you announce something publicly, you eventually have to do it.

Goldsmith put up an invitation and a video on LinkedIn. It became the most successful invitation of its kind. Sixteen thousand people people responded. Do you think he could've gone back on his plan after that. No. 

If you want to undertake something seriously, announce it. On TV, in a newspaper, on LinkedIn and Twitter.

5. Find your collaborators.

Who are your partners-in-crime?

Many of Goldsmith's friends, colleagues, and clients knew about 100 Coaches as it was taking shape since he enlisted them as his collaborators from early on. Mullaly, Dr. Kim, and Singularity University CEO Rob Nail volunteered to teach, while others worked to refine, develop and promote the curriculum. 

Once you have a good idea, share it with your network. Enlist them in what you're doing. Ask them for their help, which brings us to the next point.

6. Ask for help.

We can all ask for help and we can all give help. 

Goldsmith calls this feed-forward (vs. feedback) and has an exercise you can try with a group of people. Think of one thing you need help with. Partner with another person. Each of you will take turns to say what you need, listen to the advice and to say "thank you" (avoid saying I heard or tried this before) before switching partners. Person who gets the most advice in 10 minutes wins. It is short, enlightening, and you can take the feed-forward or leave it.

What is one thing you need help with? Play the feed-forward game, and list the different ideas. Which are worth trying? Give them a shot.

7. Embody your qualities.

I learned this from a designer who came to one of my workshops and realized that 3 qualities that define her were, "I stand tall, I am strong, and I am gentle," and every morning she wrote about how she intended to embody these 3 qualities.

Goldsmith's three qualities are Generosity (teaching others for free), Gratitude (he is committed to always saying thank you, time is too precious...) and Letting Go (not being too hard on self). He embodies them everyday and leads by example.

What are your 3 qualities and how will you embody them today?

Design the life and work you love, and use these steps to make it happen.

This article first appeared on on January 8, 2018