Book review: What got you here won’t get you there

Book cover What got you here won't get you there

The world owes Marshall Goldsmith a big thank you for the excellent, practical and transformative book What got you here won’t get you there.

The main premise of the book is that if you are already good and want to get better at anything in which other people are involved, the thing that is probably holding you back is some flaw in your interpersonal behavior. The behavior that you need to change is not so much good things that you should start doing, but bad things that you should stop doing. Although it is never easy to change habits, it is usually a lot easier to stop doing one bad habit than to start doing a bunch of good habits. As Goldsmith mentions in the book, it is a lot harder to become a nicer guy than it is to stop being a jerk.

Goldsmith presents an overview of the most common bad habits. We are often not aware that we exhibit this bad behavior and if we are, we probably think that it helps us, even though the opposite is true. If you look closely at the list of bad habits, you will probably come to the conclusion that you also exhibit one or more of the habits. I certainly did. This is a humbling experience and is the start of improvement. You should enlist the help of people who know you well to find out your negative behaviors, since they are very likely to have a more accurate view of you than you have yourself.

Now you are ready to choose the behaviors at which you want to improve and the author then gives you a process to achieve lasting improvement. The main steps are apologizing for your past errant behavior, advertising your intentions to change, following up, listening and thanking, and using a process called feedforward to elicit others help in improving.

The essence of the book is that you are taught how to identify where you are now (here), how to choose where you want to go (there), and how to get from here to there.

Although Goldsmith mainly targets people who are already successful with this book, it is for anybody who deals with people (who doesn’t?) and wants to improve. The principles mentioned are applicable in any area of your life. They will help you to improve your relations with others and become more successful as a result at work, at home and everywhere else.

Do yourself a favor: Buy this book now. Study it carefully. Internalize it. Take action. Enjoy success. Spread the word.

Below is a video of a nice presentation by Marshall Goldsmith in which some principles mentioned in the book are discussed.