What’s Wrong as Well as What’s Right

My favorite ballet instructor was wonderful at demonstrating how to execute moves correctly.  But what set her apart from other instructors was her ability to mimic what they we were doing wrong.  Often, an instructor says, “Do this!”  and we think, “Well I am.”  But sometimes someone has to point out what we are doing “wrong” in order to become self aware and make a correction. We think we’re on target and yet we’re not.

I’ve been reading a great book by Marshall Goldsmith, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.”  He points out that successful people are sometimes particularly resistant to seeing what they might be doing wrong because, well, they are successful!  How could they be doing anything wrong?  But in fact, successful people have patterns that are impeding additional success.

He has a great list of twenty faults common among successful people.   Some are obvious like “always wanting to win” or “passing judgment.”  But some are more unusual.   Try some of these on:

  • Adding too much value:  It’s never good enough; always upping the ante; having to add our ideas to every topic.
  • An excessive need to be “me”:  Using faults as virtues.
  • Failing to express gratitude:  Not practicing the art of saying thank you.
  • Refusing to express regret:  An inability to admit we’re wrong or how we’ve affected others

It was both exciting and painful to read this book, as I noticed which of the twenty habits applied to me.  But Goldsmith’s ideas are in line with my first post on transformational approaches to growing healthy organizations and fostering self-aware leadership.

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