What Got You Here Won’t Get You There – Marshall Goldsmith

Review (Amazon): Whether you are near the top of the ladder or still have a ways to climb, this book serves as an essential guide to help you eliminate your dysfunctions and move to where you want to go.

Marshall Goldsmith is an expert at helping global leaders overcome their sometimes unconscious annoying habits and attain a higher level of success. His one-on-one coaching comes with a six-figure price tag. But, in this book, you get Marshall’s great advice without the hefty fee!

My Review:

Executive Summary: Skip all the chapters and just read the last one

This was my book for the year as part of my development plan at work. It was suggested to me by another book club member to choose as she had found it to be one of the best self-improvement sort of books. Unfortunately, I didn’t really feel the same. Last year I read How to Win Friends and Influence People which I thought was pretty good, and really simple, but this book seemed to reiterate a lot of the stuff from the much older Carnegie book, and I didn’t feel like I was at a point in my career where I really was at the point of needing this book. For instance, the intro page says “To all successful leaders who want to ‘take it to the next level’ and get even better”. Maybe I’m being cynical, but I don’t think that anyone at work considers me a “successful leader”, so I just felt like the book was meant for people at a different stage in their career.

The book is divided into four sections:

Section One – The Trouble with Success – which discusses where you are in your career, why the author is qualified to help you, and why psychologically we as humans are opposed to change. Pretty basic.

Section Two – The Twenty Habits That Hold You Back from the Top – so this section lists out not twenty, but twenty-one bad habits you have that are holding you back. These are things like “passing judgment” or “speaking when angry”. All incredibly basic, and very similar to my previous read. The twenty-first habit is “goal obsession”. Unfortunately this is the chapter that hit me that this book wasn’t really for me. I’m not goal obsessed. In fact, I don’t actually have any goals at work because I have a corporate job and setting goals, to me, is just a way to be disappointed. I used to have goals, but I stopped setting them pretty early in my career after a shitty manager who never gave me a performance review…three years in a row.

Section Three – How We Can Change for the Better – discusses seven different ways of how you can improve. Again, it’s incredibly basic stuff. Like the stuff you leaned in kindergarten but somehow becoming a CEO makes you forget how to do the basics like apologizing, thanking, and listening. Seriously, those are three of the chapters. I mean, I get it. Sometimes people need to be reminded of those sort of things, but I don’t think that the people who are awful at listening realize that they are awful at listening. There are a few better sections in here which relate to feedback, follow up, and what he calls “feedforward”. This chapter actually could have some use if you are honest with yourself about what it is that you would want to change, and then have a good team of people in your life to help you stick with it.

Section Four – Pulling Out the Stops – these last thirty pages are really all you need. They go over how to maximize how to make any change in your life. A lot of the examples are compared to losing weight – something relatable that requires diligence and attention – and explains how a behavioral change is similar. There are a lot of good and relevant examples in this section, but not enough to make the book great overall.

Verdict: 3 stars

I’m assuming I’m going to have to pick another book for next year for my development plan, and I’m going to have to do a better job. Maybe if I had read this book without previously having read the Carnegie book, I would have liked it more. I just felt like it wasn’t telling me much that was new. I have a couple options already for books for next year. I’d love for anyone to weigh in on good ones.

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Filed under 3 stars, Book Review

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