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What Got You Here Won’t Get You There Summary

Here’s What Got You Here Won’t You There summary. This is for people who are already successful but want to achieve more success. Learn the flaws that hinder you from becoming more successful.


What Got You Here Won’t Get You There author Marshall Goldsmith explains the things that hinder people from achieving more success. He teaches what habits to stop so successful people can be come great.

He tells the habits of CEOs and other leaders that stop them from becoming great. A few are needing to win at all costs, not listening, and obsessing over goals.

About the Author

Marshall Goldsmith is an American leadership coach who specializes in working with successful people. He helps them remove the barriers that hinder them from achieving more success.

He earned a PhD from UCLA Anderson School of Management in Los Angeles, California in 1977. He has received numerous awards from Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Fast Company, and more.

Main takeaways: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. Some things actually hold you back from going further.
  2. Avoid obsessing over goals at the expense of the larger mission.
  3. You don’t have to win always.

Some things actually hold you back from going further

This is true especially for CEOs and other successful people. Yes they have habits that helped them reach where they are right now. But those same habits actually stop them from going further.

Some of those habits are saying yes to everything, overconfidence, and even personal discipline. Those things help people achieve a reasonable amount of success. But there’s a different approach if you want to achieve more.

The author, Marshall Goldsmith, specializes in working with successful people. He knows their habits. He also knows they have lots of potential. But without changing some of the habits that put them where they are, they won’t realize that potential.

It’s the same when someone comes from failure. He needs to change his current habits if he wants to improve his fate. Successful people also need to change their current habits if they want to have more accomplishments.

The process is not easy. Some people just stick to their habits. They’re hard to change because that’s what made them successful in the first place. And success also changes people’s mindset and attitude. It might take some work before anyone can change how he thinks about work and success.

Avoid obsessing over goals at the expense of the larger mission

One habit that successful people have is obsessing over goals. They always like to win. Their goals are everything to them. They know that if they haven’t achieved their goals, they lose.

They obsess over the goals. They forget about everything else. That’s another habit that put them where they are now. They focused on their goals. They worked hard. And they know that same habit will push them further.

However it’s not always the case. Obsessing over goals will lead people to forget the larger mission. It’s a good thing but up to a point only. Obsessing over goals might hurt the company and people more in the long run.

What is the larger mission? Maybe it’s to build a sustainable company. Higher-ups might often focus on short-term results. They want large cost savings each month. But everyone knows that they also need to invest in new ventures if they want to be sustainable.

People forget the larger mission. They obsess over the short-term goals. They want to win no matter what. But the larger mission often suffers. Worse is that people around them also lose. That prevents successful people from rising further.

You don’t have to win always

This is related to the above statements. You don’t have to win always. You’re already successful. There’s no need to prove anything further.

Even during meetings, successful people have a tendency to dominate and win. They want to get noticed. They know they should have a contribution always. They always want to sound smart to everyone in the room.

That happens when one executive uses sarcasm during each meeting. It makes him sound smart and witty. That commands attention. Everyone craves attention.

But sarcasm is unnecessary. We can all achieve results without being sarcastic. We can also command more respect that way.

We also like to appear like we’re always winning. In any success, we overestimate our contribution in it. We are quick to say that our efforts made the difference. But the truth is it’s a combination of internal and external factors. Our efforts is just one part of the whole.

You learned that successful people are not immune to bad habits. You also learned that you don’t have to win always and you should focus on your larger mission. Aside from those, you’ll also learn the following from the book:

  • Why you should avoid commenting on every discussion
  • Why we shouldn’t use emotional volatility as a management tool
  • Why you should stop helping people who don’t recognize their problem
  • How to achieve your goals and avoid common pitfalls
  • How to fight information compulsion

My personal takeaways

I learned that our habits define us. Even successful people are not immune to that. They have habits that made them successful. They also have bad habits that prevent them from becoming great leaders.

As we achieve success, our reality gets distorted. We forget about what matters. We have the tendency to focus on ourselves. We have the tendency to make ourselves more important than we really are.

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