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What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful is a book by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter published in 2007.

The trouble with successful people is that they tend to believe that their “bad” habits are not so “bad.” They have proof of that. They are successful. So, what could they do, or more precisely, what could they stop doing to be more successful?

The book presents The Twenty Habits That Hold You Back From The Top:

  1. Winning too much: The need to win at all costs and in all situations – when it matters, when it doesn’t, and when it’s totally beside the point.
  2. Adding too much value: The overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion.
  3. Passing judgment: The need to rate others and impose our standards on them
  4. Making destructive comments: The needless sarcasm and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and witty.
  5. Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However”: The overuse of these negative qualifiers which secretly say to everyone, “I’m right. You’re wrong.”
  6. Telling the world how smart we are: The need to show people we’re smarter than they think we are.
  7. Speaking when angry: Using emotional volatility as a management tool.
  8. Negativity, or “Let me explain why that won’t work”: The need to share our negative thoughts even when we weren’t asked.
  9. Withholding information: The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others.
  10. Failing to give proper recognition: The inability to praise and reward.
  11. Claiming credit that we don’t deserve: The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.
  12. Making excuses: The need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.
  13. Clinging to the past: The need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past; a subset of blaming everyone else.
  14. Playing favorites: Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.
  15. Refusing to express regret: The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit when we’re wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.
  16. Not listening: The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.
  17. Failing to express gratitude: The most basic form of bad manners.
  18. Punishing the messenger: The misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually trying to help us.
  19. Passing the buck: The need to blame everyone but ourselves.
  20. An excessive need to be “me”: Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they’re who we are.

The “twenty-first” habit is goal obsession.

The idea that being obsessed with a high-level goal makes you forget the hear and now. The present in which you are, indeed, destroying all your chances of reaching your goals.

I love to use books with people I work with. I used The Five Dysfunctions of A Team or The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni. I also used Radical Candor by Kim Scott.

I decided to use the twenty habits with a leadership team I just met.

The first part of the session was reviewing and discussing the habits. Listening to the questions and discussions can teach a lot about the people in the room.

The second part was for the team members to identify for each other, through an anonymous survey, what habit they thought the others in the team should focus on removing.

The third part was for the team members to discover the results, and pick the habit they will want to work on during the next quarter.

The last part was to select their accountability partner to work with to achieve the goal.

I am happy with the results so far. If you try the practice, let me know through the usual means: email, Twitter, or Linkedin.