“What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” is a self-help book written by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter. Goldsmith is a well-known leadership and executive coach as well as a sought-after speaker. Goldsmith is a graduate of Dartmouth College and holds a PhD in organizational behavior from the University of California, Berkeley. He has served as a professor at several universities, including Dartmouth and UCLA, and has been recognized as one of the top executive educators in the world by various organizations and publications. He is the author of several books on leadership and personal development, including several New York Times bestsellers.
“What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” is based on Goldsmith’s decades of experience working with successful leaders and helping them to achieve even greater success. The book is structured around the idea that successful people often have certain habits or behaviors that have helped them achieve their goals in the past, but that these same habits can hold them back as they try to achieve even greater success. The authors argue that in order to continue growing and improving, successful individuals must be willing to change and adapt, and this means breaking free from behaviors that are no longer serving them.
The book is divided into 20 chapters, each of which focuses on a specific habit or behavior that the authors believe is holding readers back from achieving their goals.
Here is a summary of each of the 20 chapters in “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”:
- “The First Step in Changing Any Behavior: Recognizing That You Have a Problem” – In this chapter, Goldsmith and Reiter outline that the first step in changing any negative behavior is to recognize that you have a problem and to be willing to do something about it. They provide tips for how to identify and acknowledge problem behaviors, and encourage readers to be proactive in seeking out feedback and support in order to make positive changes.
- “Winning Too Much” – This chapter focuses on the negative effects of being overly competitive and constantly needing to win. The authors argue that while competition can be healthy and motivating, when it becomes excessive it can lead to conflict and resentment and ultimately hinder success. They offer suggestions for how to balance a healthy desire to win with a more collaborative approach.
- “Adding Too Much Value” – In this chapter, the Goldsmith/Reiter discuss the negative consequences of always feeling the need to contribute and offer solutions or suggestions. They argue that sometimes it is better to just listen and allow others to contribute, and provide advice for how to balance the desire to be helpful with the need to let others take the lead.
- “Passive-Aggressively Pushing Your Own Agenda” – This chapter focuses on the negative effects of subtle or covert aggression, such as manipulating situations or people to get what you want. The authors express that this type of behavior can be damaging to relationships and careers, and offer tips for how to be more assertive and direct in a way that is respectful and effective.
- “Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However”” – In this chapter, the reader learns about the negative impact of starting conversations or statements with negative words or phrases, such as “no,” “but,” or “however.” The authors state that this type of language can be perceived as confrontational or dismissive, and offer tips for how to communicate more effectively and positively.
- “Telling the World How Smart You Are” – This chapter highlights the negative consequences of constantly needing to prove your intelligence or expertise, such as through boasting or showing off. Goldsmith and his Co-author make clear that this type of behavior can be off-putting and can actually diminish your credibility, and offer tips for how to be more modest and humble.
- “Speaking When Angry” – In this chapter, the authors discuss the negative impact of letting your emotions get the best of you, particularly when it comes to expressing anger. The point is made that while it is normal and healthy to feel angry at times, it is important to manage those emotions in a way that is constructive and not damaging to relationships.
- “Negativity, or Letting Your Ego Show” – This chapter puts the negative consequences of being overly negative or critical in the center and the importance of maintaining a positive attitude and perspective is displayed. The authors arguments make clear that negativity can be contagious and can ultimately hinder success, and offer tips for how to cultivate a more positive outlook.
- “Failing to Give Credit to Others” – In this chapter, the Goldman and Reiter come up with importance of recognizing and acknowledging the contributions and achievements of others, and the negative consequences of failing to do so. They argue that taking credit for the work of others can damage relationships and credibility, and offer tips for how to give credit where it is due.
- “Making Everything About You” – This chapter is about the unintended negative impact of constantly focusing on your own needs and desires and the importance of considering the needs and perspectives of others. The authors argue that this type of self-centered behavior can be alienating and damaging to relationships, and offer tips for how to be more aware of and considerate of the needs of others.
- “Refusing to Express Regret” – In this chapter, the authors discuss the disadvantages of refusing to admit when you are wrong or have made a mistake. They show that this type of stubbornness can damage relationships and credibility, and offer tips for how to apologize and express regret in a way that is sincere and effective.
- “Not Listening” – This chapter focuses on the implication of failing to truly listen to others and the importance of actively and attentively listening in order to build and maintain relationships. Goldman and Reiter advice the reader how to improve your listening skills and be more present and engaged in conversations.
- “Failing to Express Gratitude” – In this chapter, the authors discuss the importance of expressing gratitude and appreciation, and the negative consequences of failing to do so. Their key argument is that expressing gratitude can help to strengthen relationships and build trust, and offer tips for how to express gratitude in a genuine and effective way.
- “Punishing the Messenger” – In chapter fourteen, the potentially disadvantageous impact of reacting negatively or punishing others when they bring bad news or difficult information is discussed. The authors make the point that this type of behavior can be damaging to relationships and hinder progress, and offer tips for how to handle difficult news in a more constructive way.
- “Claiming Credit That You Don’t Deserve” – In this chapter, the authors have a detailed look at what happens when you are taking credit for the work or achievements of others. They make clear that such behavior may have negative impacts on the reader and they highlight the importance of giving credit where it is due. The chapter closes with tips for how to be honest and transparent about your own contributions and accomplishments.
- “An Excess of E-mails” – Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter have dedicated this chapter to the potentially negative impact of misusing or overusing electronic communication, such as sending too many emails or responding too quickly. This “always-on” electronic communication can be disruptive and can hinder productivity. Just like in the other chapters, the author provide tips for how to use electronic communication more effectively.
- “Failing to Acknowledge the Accomplishments of Others” – This chapter is closely related to chapter 9 which looked at “Failing to give Credit to others”. The authors extend their previous discussion by adding the importance of recognizing and acknowledging the achievements of others. They make clear that missing to do so can damage relationships and hinder progress and offer tips for how to be more supportive and celebratory of the successes of others.
- “Taking Credit for Other People’s Work” – This chapter focuses on the negative impact of taking credit for the work or achievements of others, and the importance of giving credit where it is due. The authors argue that this type of behavior can damage relationships and credibility, and offer tips for how to be honest and transparent about your own contributions and accomplishments.
- “Failing to Set Clear Goals” – Quite late in the book, the authors address the issues that can arise for individuals who neglect the importance of setting clear and specific goals. Building on this essential topic of good leadership, they argue that having a clear sense of purpose and direction is essential for success and they offer tips for how to set and work towards effective goals.
- “Failing to Make Commitments and Following Through on Them” – The final chapter focuses on the negative consequences of failing to follow through on commitments and the importance of being reliable and dependable. Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter give practical examples and advice for how to be more accountable and consistent in following through on your commitments.
Throughout each of the chapters Goldsmith and Reiter provide practical advice and exercises to help readers overcome these behaviors and develop new habits that will help them achieve their goals.
Compared with “Triggers” – another best-selling book written by Marshall Goldsmith – “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” focuses more on the habits and behaviors that can hold people back from achieving their goals whereas “Triggers” has a much closer look at the events and circumstances that can trigger negative behaviors or reactions in people. Both books have a focus on personal and professional development in common.
In terms of reception, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” was generally well-received by critics. Many reviewers praised the book’s straightforward and easy-to-understand style, as well as the practical and actionable advice it offers. Some reviewers also appreciated the use of real-life examples to illustrate the points being made, which helped to make the book more relatable and engaging. All in all, the book was seen as a valuable resource for anyone looking to break free from habits that are holding them back and achieve greater success in their personal or professional lives.