Book:  What Got You Here Won't Get You There

Author:  Marshall Goldsmith

Purchase:  PrinteBookAudiobook

Citation:  Goldsmith, M. & Reiter, M. (2007). What got you here won't get you there : how successful people become even more successful. New York, NY: Hyperion.

Big Takeaways & Key Ideas

  • One of the greatest mistakes of successful people is the assumption, "I am successful. I behave this way. Therefore, I must be successful because I behave this way!" The challenge is to make them see that sometimes they are successful in spite of this behavior. It creates the core fallacy necessitating this book, the reason that "what got us here won't get us there." I'm talking about the difference between success that happens because of our behavior and the success that comes in spite of our behavior. You can be successful because of your talent, hard work, and some good luck. You can also be successful in spite of having a serious deficiency. (pg. 21)

  • People will do something - including changing their behavior - only if it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values. In order for me to get you to do what I want, I have to prove that doing so will benefit you in some way, immediately or down the road. (pg. 29)

  • The higher you go, the more your problems are behavioral. At the higher levels, all the leading players are technically skilled. They're all smart. That's why behavioral issues become so important at the upper rungs of the corporate ladder. All other things equal, your people skills (or lack of them) become more pronounced the higher up you go. In fact, even when all things are not equal, your people skills often make the difference in how high you go. (pg. 42)

  • When someone comes to you excited with an idea, sometimes it's better just to say "Great idea!" as opposed to saying "Good idea, but it'd be better if you tried it this way..." That problem is, you may have improved the content of my idea by 5 percent, but you've reduced my commitment to executing it by 50 percent, because you've taken away my ownership of the idea. My idea is not your idea - and I walk out of your office less enthused about it than when I walked in. Whatever we gain in the form of a better idea is lost many times over in our employee's diminished commitment to the concept. (pg. 48)

  • When you start a sentence with "no," "but," "however," or any variation thereof, no matter how friendly you make it sound, the message to the other person is you are wrong. It's bluntly "what you're saying is wrong and what I'm saying is right." Nothing productive can happen after you use one of those words. The general response from the other person will be to fight back. From there, the conversation dissolves into a pointless war. (pg. 57)

  • Apologizing is one of the most powerful gestures in the human arsenal. When you say "I'm sorry" you turn people into your allies, and even your partners. An admission of guilt, an apology, a plea for help - is tough for even the most cold-hearted people to resist. And when you employ it with co-workers it can have an amazing effect on how they feel about you and themselves. I refer to apologizing as the most magical, healing, restorative gesture human beings can make. (pg. 84)

  • Any time you receive a compliment, you must say thank you. If you don't say thank you to a compliment, you could create a problem where none should exist. (pg. 89)

  • In showing interest, asking questions, and listening for the answers without distraction, this will allow you to be a great success. The ability to make a person feel that, when you're with that person, he or she is the most important (and the only) person in the room is the skill that separates the great from the near-great. (pg. 153)

  • Everything is measurable if we're clever enough to see what needs measuring - and can devise a way to track it. The strange thing is that we track data so habitually in so many other parts of our lives outside the workplace. So why don't we apply the same metrics to goals that really matter? Once you see the beauty of measuring the soft values in your life, other variables kick in, such as the fact that setting numerical targets makes you more likely to achieve them. (pg. 195)

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