What motivates you, Dr. Goleman?

Q: What has motivated you to accomplish so much in your lifetime? I am doing a short presentation focusing on bringing your name from the text book to real life, so any interesting facts from your childhood till now would be greatly appreciated.

A: I credit much of my motivating drive to my parents, both college professors. My mother was inspired early in her life by the example of Jane Adams, who founded one of the first “settlement houses,” dedicated to help impoverished immigrants make their way in fulfilling their dreams. As my mother was growing up in Chicago in the early years of the 20th century, herself the child of immigrants, she decided to follow in the footsteps of Adams, and so became a social worker in the early years of that profession.  Over the years she did much to bring mental health services to communities throughout California – and her motto was, “Make the world a better place.” My father was a professor and a humanist who studied the wisdom of world literature and shared it with his students. He was an inspiring teacher – his student jazz musician Dave Brubeck was moved enough to dedicate an oratio he composed to my father (for a biographical sketch of my mother and father: http://danielgoleman.info/biography/).  In my own work I have tried to make the world a better place through the tools I use: writing that inspires people to action.