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I was reading a Marathi book named “Majjano Monday” (translation: Joyful Monday) by Navin Kale and in one of his articles Navin Kale mentioned about Marshall Goldsmith and his book titled, “What got you here…Won’t get you there”. I was intrigued to read about it and thought I should give it a read as well. Hence I ordered it instantly and started reading it. I must say that this book was an eye-opener for me. It was like someone showing me a mirror about all the wrongdoings that I was unknowingly undertaking and a path to correct them as well.

The key message of this book is, in office/corporate life, there is a limit to which your professional, university degrees will help you. Beyond that limit, it’s always those subtle, magical soft skills, which you would not have learnt anywhere else, which will do all the magic. While reading this book, I could constantly relate the content to me, many of my colleagues, my managers to up to the top leadership level. This book was a real treat in terms of understanding what need not be done than what actually should be done. The book discusses in details the twenty habits that hold you back and stop you from advancing your career in the right direction. The analysis of all the twenty habits is so very well done, that after reading each one of them you get a completely different outlook and a new dimension to look at each one of the habits. Though it is easy to read and difficult to follow, as Marshall himself says in the book, it is better to at least start by reading and knowing them all. The habits that are discussed in the book are as follows:

  1. Winning too much
  2. Adding too much value
  3. Passing judgement
  4. Making destructive comments
  5. Starting with “No”, “But” or “However”
  6. Telling the world how smart we are
  7. Speaking when angry
  8. Negativity or “Let me explain why that won’t work”
  9. Withholding information
  10. Failing to give proper recognition
  11. Claiming credit we don’t deserve
  12. Making excuses
  13. Clinging to the past
  14. Playing favourites
  15. Refusing to express regret
  16. Not listening
  17. Failing to express gratitude
  18. Punishing the messenger
  19. Passing the buck
  20. An excessive need to be “me”

And the bonus one was “Goal obsession”.

The examples that are given while discussing these habits were real eye-openers. The problem areas are very well discussed and then the solution areas too, are very well detailed. The solution areas being:

  1. Feedback
  2. Apologizing
  3. Telling the world, or Advertising
  4. Listening
  5. Thanking
  6. Following up
  7. Practising feedforward

And in the end, Marshall Goldsmith points out the findings from his research where he interviewed 200 high-potential leaders from 120 companies around the world. The question that was asked was, “If you stay in this company, why are you going to stay?”. Marshall points out that the top three answers were:

  1. “I am finding meaning and happiness now. The work is exciting and I love what I am doing”.
  2. “I like the people. They are my friends. This feels like a team. It feels like a family. I could make more money working with other people, but I don’t want to leave the people here.”
  3. “I can follow my dreams. This organization is giving me a chance to do what I really want to do in life.”

With these findings, Marshall Goldsmith sums up by saying that it is not always the money that is the key driver alone and with all the small subtle behavioural changes made, the place of your work can be more joyful, filled with happiness and full of value for you as well for the company.

But while reading this book, I was constantly thinking about one more thing and that was more around being calm and composed from within. The twenty habits and the remedies to correct them are very well presented in this book. But for being confident from within, you should be really good at what you do, be really skilfull and then apply the dressing of these soft skills on top of it. I mean if you do not have enough knowledge about the area of your work, the proper hard skills, but if you are just good in soft skills, I think that won’t work. You still have to earn the hard skills no matter what, there is no escape to that. Having said that, soft skills are the ones which would make you go further and farther.

I enjoyed the read thoroughly and would highly recommend this book who wish to understand the essential skills required other than the hard skills to be successful and valuable at work.