Book Review: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

February 7, 2007

You probably think you’re pretty special, having moved up steadily in your career—unstoppable, you’re going places.  And maybe you’re right; maybe you are special.  But the specialness that has brought you so much success up until now may have blinded you to the things you’re not so good at.  You’ve succeeded on your skills, despite your shortcomings.  But executive coach and author Marshall Goldsmith is here to say that if you want to keep moving up, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.

So, what’s wrong with you? Well, if you’re like most people, you’ve got one, two, maybe three of Goldsmith’s handy Twenty Habits That Hold You Back. Things like your uncontrollable need to always win, to always be right, to pass judgment on others, to make destructive comments, to be negative, to not control your temper—you get the picture.  And if you want to take the next step up, you’re going to have to work on your issues.

Of course no one has all these bad habits.  In fact, some of us have these habits but not to a degree that it really hurts us—our co-workers don’t mind them, even if we are occasionally annoying. But, just about everyone has one or two that are serious enough to affect their success at work.  Those are the ones to figure out and start working on.

(Personally, I’m a little too much of a know-it-all and I have poor listening skills. My wife says I’m also negative. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.)

It’s important that you realize your shortcomings, because those around you already know them.  Saying “that’s just who I am” isn’t going to cut it, unless you want someone else to get the promotion.

So, how do you find out your weaknesses and go about fixing them?  Goldsmith has a number of ideas, none earth-shattering but all important.  You have to elicit feedback, apologize for your screw-ups, commit to being better, and continually follow up to see how you’re doing. It wouldn’t hurt to thank people, either, Mr. or Ms. Ungrateful.

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There is self help for the business class, telling you what you already know but pounding the ideas in hard enough that you might actually use them.  If your career is important to you, you’ll at least give them a try.

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.


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