May 30, 2024

20 Nasty Habits

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith’s book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There lists 20 habits that can keep you from realizing your dreams. Do any of these strike a chord in you?

I first met Marshall Goldsmith at the National Speakers Association Annual Convention in New York a couple of years ago. I find him fascinating for two reasons. First, he’s a graduate of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (where I once matriculated a year or two before him, but…er…went on to other things). And two, his methods and philosophy for improving performance are totally aligned with mine.

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith’s book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There is a classic in understanding how our Knower/Judger (what got us here) impedes access to our Learner/Researcher (required for getting us there). I urge you to pick up a copy at your earliest convenience.

In the book, Goldsmith lists 20 habits (all K/J) that can hold you back from achieving your dreams. I show successful people how to use the HDClarity tools to identify and modify these habits in order to get more of what they want. Recognize any of these?

  1. Winning too much: the need to win at all costs and in all situations—when it matters, when it doesn’t, and when it’s totally beside the point.
  2. Adding value: the overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion.
  3. Passing judgment: the need to rate others and impose our standards on them.
  4. Making destructive comments: the needless sarcasms and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and witty.
  5. Starting with “no,” “but,” or “however”: the overuse of these negative qualifiers, which secretly say to everyone, “I’m right. You’re wrong.”
  6. Telling the world how smart you are: the need to show people we’re smarter than they think we are.
  7. Speaking when angry: using emotional volatility as a management tool.
  8. Negativity, or “Let me explain why that won’t work”: the need to share our negative thoughts even when we weren’t asked.
  9. Withholding information: the refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others.
  10. Failing to give proper recognition: the inability to praise and reward.
  11. Claiming credit we don’t deserve: the most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.
  12. Making excuses: the need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.
  13. Clinging to the past: the need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past; a subset of blaming everyone else.
  14. Playing favorites: failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.
  15. Refusing to express regret: the inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we’re wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.
  16. Not listening: the most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.
  17. Failing to express gratitude: the most basic form of bad manners.
  18. Punishing the messenger: the misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually only trying to help us.
  19. Passing the buck: the need to blame everyone but ourselves.
  20. An excessive need to be “me”: exalting our faults as virtues simply because they’re who we are.

© Marshall Goldsmith, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, pp. 40-41.

These habits are ways of getting one’s emotional needs met (living within the constraints established by the Knower/Judger rules we live by) in lieu of doing or speaking in support of what our Learner/Researcher really wants.

I’ve also discovered that one or more of these habits can exist with a relationship in one environment and not another. For example, I find that #5, #10, and #18 are huge in multi-generational business situations. Yet outside the management meeting, the dad and the son are perfect citizens, exhibiting few if any of Goldsmith’s 20.

When this happens, we identify patterns of habits sometimes called “games.” One player chastises, and the other capitulates. When this is occurring, shedding the habit becomes more difficult because both parties get their emotional needs satisfied. It often requires both players to acknowledge their parts and agree, from their L/Rs, that they both want a different outcome and to stop playing the game.

OK. It’s possible that you’ve looked at the list and declared “Not me!” So you might conjure up some courage and hand this list to your direct reports, kids, spouse, and golf buddies and ask them if they see any of these traits in you.

Let me know how it comes out. I’m at (877) 254-8250 toll-free… any time.

One thought on “20 Nasty Habits

  1. When I read #16 I thought of so many meetings where someone is presenting a PowerPoint and others in the room are reading emails. After the advent of laptops listening has gotten worse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *