Deep Insights from a Gerund!

Srikumar S Rao
2 min readJan 26, 2023

I am a member of the MG100. I got in early, so I guess I am a ‘senior’ member. By age, I am very senior.

For those who are unaware, this refers to the Marshall Goldsmith 100.

Marshall is one of the most eminent coaches in the world with a client list that includes the CEOs of global behemoths like Ford Motor Co. and international institutions like the World Bank.

The MG100 is a group of illustrious coaches he hand selected to form a community. They help and support each other and, together, work to make the world a less depressing and more cheery place.

We meet twice a month to share ideas and kibbitz.

The reason Marshall is a great coach is that he has penetrating insights. Also, he does not put on dog. He readily admits that he is as guilty as anyone of the flaws he points out.

Today we talked about gerunds. This was an idea he got from another member of the MG100 — Mark Reiter. Mark is the person who wrote all of Marshall’s books and they make a great team.

Do you know what a gerund is? It has been a half century since I ran across the term in English grammar. A gerund is the form of a verb when it is functioning as a noun.

If you find this complicated, all you need to know is that gerunds end with …ing.

Marshall invites you to think of what you are doing in terms of gerunds.

Say you are attending a presentation by one of your team members. What are you doing? You are not ‘learning’ because you have heard it all before. You are not ‘helping’ because they are doing all the work.

But, perhaps, your very presence makes others realize that this is important. So, you may be ‘supporting’. Perhaps, you wish to help them grow their confidence, so you might be ‘caring’.

So, at any instant, ask yourself, “What am I doing?” and answer in a gerund.

Then, it becomes trickier.

Ask yourself, “Why am I doing it?” and again, answer in a gerund.

If you are honest, a lot of unpleasant stuff comes out. Stuff that you would rather not acknowledge.

Here is an example:

I go to a team meeting to discuss a new project and make a suggestion. When asked, I instantly say, “I am helping.”

When you ask yourself “Why am I doing it?” the honest answer may well be “showing off” or “bragging.”

Practice using this technique. Gerunds may show you that, underneath that mirror, there is a lot of tarnish.




Srikumar S Rao

Srikumar Rao is the author of “Are You Ready to Succeed?” and creator of the celebrated MBA course, “Creativity & Personal Mastery.” //