What Got You Here, Will Not Get You There

In the new book by Marshall Goldsmith,  What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There: HOW SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE BECOME EVEN MORE SUCCESSFUL, gives great insight that could help pastors be better leaders after seeing some success.  Goldsmith, an executive coach, argues in his book what holds most of us back. We:

1. Overestimate our contribution to a project.

2. Take credit, partial or complete, for successes that belong to others.

3. Have an elevated opinion of our professional skills and our standing among our peers.

4. Ignore the failures and time-consuming dead-ends we create.

5. Exaggerate our projects’ impact on net profits by discounting the real and hidden costs built into them.

All of these flaws are borne out of success, yet here is where the book becomes interesting. Unlike others, Goldsmith does limit himself to teaching us what to do. He goes the next step. He teaches us what to stop. He does not address flaws of skill, intelligence or personality. No, he addresses challenges in interpersonal behavior, those egregious everyday annoyances that make your workplace more poisoned than it needs to be. They are the:

1. Need to win at all costs.

2. Desire to add our two cents to every discussion.

3. Need to rate others and impose our standards on them.

4. Needless sarcasm and cutting remarks that we think make us sound witty and wise.

5. Overuse of “No,” “But” or “However.”

6. Need to show people we are smarter than they think we are.

7. Use of emotional volatility as a management tool.

8. Need to share our negative thoughts, even if not asked.

9. Refusal to share information in order to exert an advantage.

10. Inability to praise and reward.

11. Annoying way in which we overestimate our contribution to any success.

12. Need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.

13. Need to deflect blame from ourselves and onto events and people from our past.

14. Failure to see that we am treating someone unfairly.

15. Inability to take responsibility for our actions.

16. Act of not listening.

17. Failure to express gratitude.

18. Need to attack the innocent, even though they are usually only trying to help us.

19. Need to blame anyone but ourselves.

20. Excessive need to be “me.”

21. Goal obsession at the expense of a larger mission.

When I came to Missouri from Texas I hung my hat on my successes that I had in Texas.  I was a intern one summer in a church of 15,000 members that decided to build a second campus.  I remember telling the pastor of a church in Missouri that built a second site, “been there done that”.  It was then I realized I was in the “Show-Me” state and that I had had some successes elsewhere, it was not going to promote me or help me any faster. Take a lesson from Goldsmith and Tow Mater, “you don’t know where you are going until you have seen where you have been”, just don’t expect where you have been to get you to where you are going.

Do you know anyone like this? Is it you? If there is still hope for you, this book is a witty, well-written start to addressing your unconscious, annoying habits that limit your ability to achieve a higher level of success. Might be a good book for pastors that are moving this year or for someone that would be changing positions.


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