Book Summary: What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith

What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith Book Cover

In his book, “What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There,” renowned leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith provides a comprehensive guide to helping readers identify and overcome the behaviors and attitudes that may have helped them achieve success in the past but are now holding them back from reaching their full potential. Throughout the book, Goldsmith shares his own experiences and those of his clients, providing practical advice and strategies for change.

Chapter 1: The Evolution of Leadership

Goldsmith begins by discussing the changing nature of leadership and how the traditional models of leadership are no longer sufficient in today’s fast-paced and interconnected world. He argues that the most successful leaders are those who are able to adapt to changing circumstances and are willing to learn from their mistakes. Goldsmith also emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and the ability to recognize one’s own weaknesses and shortcomings.

Chapter 2: The 20 Habits That Hold Us Back

In this chapter, Goldsmith outlines the 20 most common habits and behaviors that can hinder personal and professional growth. These habits include things like defensiveness, arrogance, and a lack of empathy, as well as more subtle behaviors like excessive apologizing or an inability to express gratitude. Goldsmith provides practical advice for overcoming each of these habits and encourages readers to take a honest look at their own behaviors and attitudes.

Chapter 3: The Power of Apology

Goldsmith devotes an entire chapter to the power of apology and the importance of taking responsibility for one’s mistakes. He argues that many people have a hard time apologizing because they see it as a sign of weakness or because they are afraid of losing face. However, he stresses that a sincere apology can go a long way towards repairing relationships and building trust.

Chapter 4: The Courage to Change

In this chapter, Goldsmith discusses the importance of having the courage to make changes in one’s life and to take risks. He argues that many people are held back by fear of failure or fear of success and that it takes courage to overcome these obstacles. Goldsmith provides strategies for building courage and encourages readers to take small steps towards change.

Chapter 5: The Art of Self-Awareness

Goldsmith emphasizes the importance of self-awareness in this chapter, arguing that it is the key to personal and professional growth. He provides exercises for developing self-awareness and encourages readers to seek feedback from others in order to gain a clearer understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses.

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Chapter 6: The Power of Questioning

In this chapter, Goldsmith discusses the power of asking questions and encourages readers to become more curious and open-minded. He argues that asking questions can help us gain new perspectives and develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and others. Goldsmith provides strategies for asking effective questions and encourages readers to use questions as a tool for learning and growth.


In his conclusion, Goldsmith reiterates the importance of self-awareness, courage, and a willingness to learn from one’s mistakes. He emphasizes the importance of taking small steps towards change and of seeking feedback from others. Goldsmith also provides a final word of encouragement, reminding readers that growth and change are ongoing processes and that there is always more to learn and improve upon.

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