Since Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, has been around for five years, there are plenty of reviews. There is not a lot I can say that would be new about a business book that stays in the top 25 on Amazon even after five years.
As a coach and coaching instructor, I often recommend this book to clients and new coaches. There are some real similarities in the reactions I get that I’d like to share.
We often skip through the first section of the book, but I find it full of important reminders as I coach executives. Section one is titled, “The Trouble with Success, in which we learn how our previous success prevents us from achieving more success.” Executives are not blind to their success and they know that their attitudes and abilities have a lot to do with what got them to where they are. The tendency is to do more of what they do. If anything, the pressure of becoming even more successful drives them to be do even more like they’ve done in the past.
That attitude on the part of successful executives is what has made Marshall Goldsmith so successful. His job as a coach is to support them in realizing they have to stop doing what they’ve done to get a success like they’ve not gotten before. From the outside, that’s a real “duh” moment. Obviously, we have to do something different to get different results. From the inside, however, this is a scary thought. It’s one of those ideas that makes our lizard brain scurry for cover.
Section Two of the book is about the twenty habits that hold us back from the top. Everyone (and I do mean 100%) of the people who have read this book have trouble reading this section. We all find our self in one, two or even three of these habits. Sometimes I have clients finding comfort in the fact that their bad habit is shared by enough other people that it makes the book. I had a recent client say to me that if others can do something about it, then “I damn well can too.”
Section Three is about how we can change for the better. When we focus on the relationships we build and our role in them, then we can start to shape our future. The hardest part for most people is the inertia they encounter around them. We may want to change, but the people around us aren’t quite so sure. The key is being open about the change, consistency in developing new habits, and a willingness to move forward in the face of resistance.
Section Four is called pulling out the stops and is about all of the other pieces we need to do to make our new habits stick. It’s about finding the people who want to change and not trying to change the others.
I obviously am wholeheartedly recommending this book to any coach. And I offer this challenge—read this book and don’t find yourself in one of the habits. I dare you.