Marshall Goldsmith is making my life difficult.

Elon Musk and Alan Mulally can help and you'll benefit from it.

I'll explain how.

The Challenge

I'm trying to go one year without flying. For an activity that was impossible before 1903, I'm finding it remarkably difficult. Society today, especially business, pressures you to fly.

I'm taking on the challenge for two reasons.

The first is because flying pollutes, the sea levels are rising, and I've found taking responsibility for my actions that affect others, even future generations, even though we can't change the past. Some disagree that there's any point to this experiment, which brings us to my second reason.

The second is that my little behavior-driven experiments like this have improved my life. Marshall's leadership exercises are one example, like avoiding beginning responses to people with the words no, but, or however.

Try it for a week if you haven't. Marshall does it with everyone he coaches, so the experiment is like free world-class coaching. I guarantee you'll learn more than you expect.

Behavioral change drives personal growth beyond what reading, listening to lectures, watching TED talks, and so on can. I've come to value it beyond those passive techniques.

Other experiments that have improved my life beyond my expectations include doing burpees daily (I haven't missed a day in almost five years and am in the best shape of my life) and to go one week only eating food with no packaging (which increased my fresh fruit and vegetable intake ever since, and did I mention the best shape of my life?).

So whether you agree with not flying for a year, I expect to learn and grow from the experience. If our ancestors found ways to be happy for millennia without planes, I'm confident I can too.

Enter Marshall Goldsmith and His 15 Coaches Program

In the middle of my no-fly year, which began March 23, Marshall instituted his 15 Coaches program. The application says,

Save the date: December 2-4, Phoenix. If you are selected, you will be invited to join me in Phoenix for a multi-day event with other world-renowned thought leaders.

I don't know if he'll pick me, but I plan for success. If I got picked, how would I get to Phoenix without flying? I live in Manhattan without a car.

I considered the train, which takes three days, but releases about one-third the CO2. I considered bike-camping, which would take about a month.

Enter Elon Musk

A friend told me Tesla created a network of solar powered charging stations. Normally I wouldn't consider an electric car since zero emissions from a car when it's powered by coal isn't that much less.

But solar powered stations changes the game. Could I drive from New York to Phoenix and back almost entirely on solar?

Wondering how I'd get the car for one round trip, I wondered Tesla's interest in promoting its charging network over planes and trains. But Tesla is already popular.

How could I make this trip more newsworthy?

Enter Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford

Alan Mulally turned Ford around, earning himself CEO of the Year and Person of the Year awards. Part of his challenge to the company to call his car, a Lexus, when he started "the finest car in the world."

Talk about gumption!

Talk about a challenge to himself and the team he was serving, positioning themselves as underdogs.

I mention Mulally because Marshall mentions him throughout the 15 Coaches program. And Mulally is no stranger to challenging big car companies to spur them (and himself) to greatness.

Musk and Mulally agreeing on promoting solar powered travel could make news and accelerate change we all benefit from, especially future generations.

Strike that. Current generations, because kids born today will see sea levels rise by more than a foot, maybe six feet according to some projections, in their lifetimes.

My challenge to Marshall, Elon, and Alan

The challenge is for Tesla to provide

  • a car for about a week
  • a route maximizing solar power from its charging stations, and
  • a calculation to show the media how much less CO2 the round trip puts into the atmosphere compared to planes, trains, and buses (I doubt it can match a bicycle).

Who wins?

  • Most of all, future generations and today's children. Your kids.
  • Next, every car company, with the motivation like Mulally gave Ford.
  • Next, Tesla, for the publicity.
  • Next, bus and train companies, with the incentive to move to solar. Tesla's charging stations are there. Maybe Tesla would let buses use them.
  • Finally me. I won't mind testing out a Tesla. I'll be happy to car pool with anyone making the same route.

Since Marshall hasn't picked his 15 coaches, they don't even have to deliver if I don't get picked, but they still get the publicity.

So, Marshall, Elon, and Alan, how about it? Ready to make yourselves look good, spur innovation, and reduce some CO2 emissions?

Published on: Oct 12, 2016