Most of my CEO executive coaching clients have detailed, measurable goals. We use them as navigational aids, comparing interim results with plans and expectations, to help the client make adjustments to their attitudes and activity. I was in the midst of one such review when the client took the conversation in a novel and fruitful direction.

I asked, “Have you looked into that club for sharing exotic sports cars we discussed?”

“I’ve been thinking about that, ” he responded. “Why do all my goals have to be for things I don’t have?”

Give yourself a moment to consider that profound question.


Engaging that question exposes1 an invisible assumption2 that, if left concealed and unexamined, controls our activity and determines the quality of our experience.

This assumption can be articulated several ways:

  • Whatever I have is not enough.
  • There is something I do not have that, if possessed, will make enough.
  • Not this but certainly that.
  • It is always about the getting of some thing.

What if the assumption is wrong?

“That is a great question,” I replied. “Why not have as your goal, ‘Enjoy what you have. Be happy now.'”

My client talked about how much he enjoyed the car he owns. Certainly, the car had defects and things he would change. There are also downsides to driving a Ferrari: jealousy, fear of loss and damage, attracting speeding tickets, etc.

Here are one CEO’s new goals:

  • Engaging with his children,
  • Enjoying the process of running his business, and
  • Being present to the joy of driving the car he has.



See also, An old wisdom tale.


1 unconceals, in executive coaching jargon

2 more coach jargon: an always/already listening)