Highlights from What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Successful people consistently compare themselves favorably to their peers.

People who believe they can succeed see opportunities where others see threats. They’re not afraid of uncertainty or ambiguity. They embrace it. They want to take greater risks and achieve greater returns. Given the choice, they will always bet on themselves.

Successful people have a unique distaste for feeling controlled or manipulated.

If you press people to identify the motives behind their self-interest it usually boils down to four items: money, power, status, and popularity.

That’s the fallacy of added value. Whatever we gain in the form of a better idea is lost many times over in our employees’ diminished commitment to the concept.

It’s obvious that the best course of action for dealing with people like this is to not let them make us angry. Getting angry doesn’t improve the situation and life’s too short to waste on feeling bad.

But once you appreciate the payoff of saying nothing—that if you’re silent, you cannot make an ass out of yourself or make an enemy out of someone else—then you might have a chance of getting better.

I also suspect that’s a big reason why so many of us withhold information. It’s not that we want to keep people in the dark. It’s simply that we’re too busy. We mean well. We have good intentions. But we fail to get around to it.

If the answer was “yes” he gave them some very quick recognition, either by phone, e-mail, voice mail, or a note.

Stop blaming others for the choices you made—and that goes with double emphasis for the choices that turned out well.

No one expects us to be right all the time. But when we’re wrong, they certainly expect us to own up to it.

It’s not about you. It’s about what other people think of you.

Basically, we accept feedback that is consistent with our self-image and reject feedback that is inconsistent.

1. Let go of the past.  2. Tell the truth.  3. Be supportive and helpful—not cynical or negative.  4. Pick something to improve yourself—so everyone is focused more on “improving” than “judging.”

It’s my contention—and it’s the bedrock thesis of this book—that interpersonal behavior is the difference-maker between being great and near-great, between getting the gold and settling for the bronze.

Even though we may be able to deny our problems to ourselves, they may be very obvious to the people who are observing us.

Some of the best feedback comes from what you observe. If you accept it and act on it, it’s no less valid than people telling you the same thing at point-blank range.

In each phase you must target a different constituency. In phase 4, you woo up—to get your superiors to approve. In phase 5, you woo laterally—to get your peers to agree. In phase 6, you woo down—to get your direct reports to accept.

All I’m saying is that you cannot rely on other people to read your mind or take note of the changed behavior you’re displaying. It may be patently obvious to you, but it takes a lot more than a few weeks of behavioral modification for people to notice the new you.

There’s the part where we actually listen. And there’s the part where we speak. Speaking establishes how we are perceived as a listener. What we say is proof of how well we listen. They are two sides of the same coin.

Asking, “Is it worth it?” engages you in thinking beyond the discussion to consider (a) how the other person regards you, (b) what that person will do afterwards, and (c) how that person will behave the next time you talk.

The ability to make a person feel that, when you’re with that person, he or she is the most important (and the only) person in the room is the skill that separates the great from the near-great.

Eventually, you’ll come to see that expressing gratitude is a talent—a talent that goes hand in hand with wisdom and self-knowledge and maturity.

But injecting Jim into the mix—a friendly sympathetic human being whom, on the one hand, I do not want to disappoint (that’s human nature) and who, on the other hand, provides constant encouragement and input—brings it more in line with the follow-up process I’ve been describing here

Successful people have a high need for self-determination and will tend to accept ideas about concerns that they “own” while rejecting ideas that feel “forced” upon them.

What’s interesting (and reassuring) about this story is that it’s an example of a boss accurately assessing his shortcomings and his employee agreeing with him. That isn’t always the case. Sometimes the gap between what a boss says about himself and what the staff believes is wide, very wide.

Your memo has to be brutally honest. Your employees have to believe it is accurate. And most important, they must believe it matters.

Let them figure out what they should be doing on their own. Let them tell you where you’re not needed.

If you manage your people the way you’d want to be managed, you’re forgetting one thing: You’re not managing you.

Most leadership development revolves around one huge false assumption—that if people understand then they will do. That’s not true. Most of us understand, we just don’t do.

I tell people that change is a simple equation: Stop the annoying behavior and you’ll stop being perceived as an annoyance.

The smart ones believed that their corporation would “drop them in a flash” when they no longer met the company’s needs, so they in turn were willing to “drop the company” when it no longer met their needs.

As a general rule, people in their 20s want to learn on the job. In their 30s they want to advance. And in their 40s they want to rule.

Let that be your model for dealing with needy, demanding, allegedly “selfish” employees. To ignore them and resent them is to misunderstand them—and eventually lose them. You’re committing the corporate equivalent of a hate crime.

Managers at smart companies are catching on. They’re beginning to see that their relationship with top talent resembles a strategic alliance rather than a traditional employment contract.

Stop trying to change people who don’t think they have a problem.

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