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Cover image for What Got You Here Won't Get You There - Book Summary
Pavithra Eswaramoorthy
Pavithra Eswaramoorthy

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

What Got You Here Won't Get You There - Book Summary

A book by Marshall Goldsmith, you can buy it here. :)

The Trouble With Success

  • Oftentimes, our previous success prevents us from achieving more.
  • People who tend to be very successful sometimes do not realize how their behaviour is coming across to other people.
  • These super successful people have some bad habits.
  • They need to realize that they are successful, not because of their bad habits, but in spite of it.

Why We Resist Change (AKA The Success Delusion)

Successful people have 4 primary beliefs, it’s why they’re successful, but it’s also why they resist change. It’s important we acknowledge and understand these.


  1. I have succeeded ~ I believe in my skills and talent
  2. I can succeed ~ I am confident that I can succeed
  3. I will succeed ~ I have the motivation to succeed
  4. I choose to succeed ~ Because it’s my choice and I’m not forced to do this, I’m committed.

The Natural Law

People will do something -- including changing their behaviour -- only if it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values.

20 Habits That Hold You Back From The Top

  1. Winning too much
  2. Adding too much value
  3. Passing judgement
  4. Making destructive comments
  5. Starting with (or using) “No”, “But” or “However”
  6. Telling the world how smart we are
  7. Speaking when angry
  8. Negativity, or “Let me explain why that won’t work”
  9. Withholding information
  10. Failing to give proper recognition
  11. Claiming credit that we don't deserve
  12. Making excuses
  13. Clinging to the past
  14. Playing favorites
  15. Refusing to express regret
  16. Not listening
  17. Failing to express gratitude
  18. Punishing the messenger
  19. Passing the buck
  20. An excessive need to be “me”

How We Can Change For The Better

1. Get Feedback

From everyone around you: people working above you, below you and alongside you (360 degree feedback). Also, family. :)

Ask them to:

  1. Let go of the past
  2. Tell the truth
  3. Be supportive and helpful
  4. Pick something to improve themselves

Types of feedback: Solicited, Unsolicited, Observational
All are equally important and good.

Note: Do not express your opinion on their feedback, just say “thank you”.

2. Apologise

  • Tell people that you’re sorry for your behaviour. Be sincere.
  • It helps people let go of the past and help you improve.

3. Advertise

  • Tell the world that you plan on improving.
  • It’s incredibly hard to make people change their opinion of you if you work silently.
  • Let them know you’re changing, they’ll slowly start noticing the changes.

4. Listen

  • Think before you speak.
  • Listen with respect.
  • Ask yourself -- “Is it worth it?” before speaking.

If you can do only one thing in this list, do this. Be a good listener.

5. Thank


6. Follow Up

  • Following up is important for being successful in this endeavour.
  • Have a set of questions that you answer regularly.
  • Questions can be -- “How many times did you NOT interrupt someone this week?”

7. Practice Feedforward

  • Feedback is people analyzing your past behaviour and telling it to you.
  • Feedforward is looking in the other direction -- future.
  • Feedforward means people telling you what exactly you can do to improve.
  • Folks love giving advice, make use of it.

Rules For Changing

  1. You might NOT have a disease that behaviour change can cure.
  2. Pick the right thing to change (if 50%+ feedback giving people don’t think it’s a problem, don’t worry about it).
  3. Don’t delude yourself about what you "really must change" (what you think is the root cause, is oftentimes not the actual cause).
  4. Don’t hide from the truth you need to hear.
  5. There is no ideal behaviour (you can’t be an “ideal” listener, you can just be better).
  6. If you can measure it, you can achieve it (make sure to measure the right thing).
  7. Monetize the result (if you can see your bad habits literally costing you, you can make faster progress).
  8. Best time to change is now.

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