$250,000 Advice from America’s Most Sought-After Executive Coach

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Marshall Goldsmith is one of the world’s best known – and best paid – executive coaches. He has racked up an impressive 7 million air miles and coached over 50 major CEOs. In fact, executives who hire Goldsmith for one-on-one coaching pay $250,000 for the privilege.

Now, I started reading one of Goldsmith’s signature books “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful.” With this book, his help is available for 1/10,000th of the price.

The book’s premise is simple. We have bought into the success delusion which has hold us back. We,

  • Overestimate our contribution to a project.
  • Take credit, partial or complete, for successes that belong to others.
  • Have an elevated opinion of our professional skills and our standing among our peers.
  • Ignore the failures and time-consuming dead-ends we create.
  • Exaggerate our projects’ impact on net profits by discounting the real and hidden costs built into them.

Here’s the paradox of success. All of these delusions are the result of our past successes and think that type of validation is predictive of great things in our future. However, this success delusion becomes a serious liability when we need to change and someone tries to make us change.

There are four key beliefs that help you successful. However, each can make it hard for you to change.

1. I Have Succeeded

To successful people, the past is always the prologue – and always rose-colored. This belief only becomes an obstacle when behavioral change is needed.

2. I Can Succeed

Successful people believe they have the capability within themselves to make desirable things happen – through sheer force of personality, talent or brainpower, they can steer a situation in their direction.

3. I Will Succeed

Successful people have unflappable optimism. But it can easily mutate into excessive optimism. It explains why successful people tend to be extremely busy and face the danger of overcommitment. When the “do-nothings” are asked, “Why didn’t you implement the behavioral change you said you would?” the most common response is, “I mean to, but I just didn’t have time.”

4. I Choose to Succeed

Successful people believe they are doing what they choose to do it. Unfortunately, the more you believe your behavior is a result of your own choices and commitments, the less likely you are to want to change your behavior.

Goldsmith said the only natural law he’s witnessed in three decades of observing successful people’s effort to become more successful is this:

“People will do something – including changing their behavior – only if it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values.”

This is a natural law. Every choice, big or small, is a risk-reward decision where your bottom-line thinking is, “What’s in it for me?”

Most people’s resistance to change can be overcome by invoking natural law. Everyone, even the biggest ego in the room, has a hot button that can be pushed – and that button is self-interest.

When leaders understand this success delusion, they can understand how to catapult their potential.

Question: What belief are you wrestling with to help you become more successful?


  • David Kenny

    ZZ said this years ago
    Marshall must have read him

  • Dan Erickson

    I think it all depends how we define success. I don’t define success as most entrepreneurs might. I already put myself into the “I have succeeded category.” I’ve written hundreds of songs, several books, and teach others to speak in public. I have a happy healthy daughter and own my own home. I’m happy and physically healthy. I have succeed. The extra rewards are still to come…