Progress Happens When You Ask Yourself – How Can I Do Better?

Progress Happens When You Ask Yourself – How Can I Do Better?

How Can I Do BetterIt’s hard to help people who don’t think they have a problem. It’s impossible to fix people who think someone else is the problem.



“People only change their ways when what they truly value is threatened. It’s in our nature. It’s the law “.so says  Marshall Goldsmith in “What Got You Here won’t get you There.”

“People will do something—including changing their behaviour—only if it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values.”
Goldsmith, an executive coach, argues in his book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, that success delusion, holds most of us back.

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

All of these flaws are borne out of success, yet here is where the book becomes interesting. Unlike others, Goldsmith does not limit himself to teaching us what to do. He goes the next step. He teaches us what to stop. He does not address flaws of skill, intelligence or personality. He addresses challenges in interpersonal behaviour, those egregious everyday annoyances that make your workplace more noxious that it needs to be. They are:

  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 too much 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 we 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 that we don’t deserve: The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.
    12. Making excuses: The need to reposition our annoying behaviour 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 favourites: 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
  • As we advance in our careers, behavioral changes are often the only significant changes we can make.
    If you press people to identify the motives behind their self-interest it usually boils down to four items: money, power, status, and popularity.
    • But the higher up you go in the organisation, the more you need to make other people winners and not make it about winning yourself.

When we do what we choose to do, we are committed. When we do what we have to do, we are compliant.

How to manage a team .
Casey Stengel liked to point out that on any baseball team, one third of the players loved the manager, one third hated him, and one third were undecided. “The secret to managing a ballclub,” said Stengel, “was to keep the third who hated you from getting together with the third that were undecided.”

It’s hard to help people who don’t think they have a problem. It’s impossible to fix people who think someone else is the problem.

The only question worth asking
Imagine that you’re 95 years old and ready to die. Before taking your last breath, you’re given a great gift: The ability to travel back in time—the ability to talk to the person who is reading this page, the ability to help this person be a better professional and lead a better life.

The only feedback question
In soliciting feedback for yourself, the only question that works—the only one!—must be phrased like this: “How can I do better?”

Why we can’t keep secrets:
He says that people have an overwhelming need to tell you something that you don’t know, even when it’s not in their best interest.

Why are you at work?
Take a look around you at work. Why are you there? What keeps you coming back day after day? Is it any of the big four—money, power, status, popularity—or is it something deeper and more subtle that has developed over time? If you know what matters to you, it’s easier to commit to change. If you can’t identify what matters to you, you won’t know when it’s being threatened.

The Business Troubleshooters plug

Our website is

We hate waste, naysayers and it can’t be done thinking.

We love accountability, measuring and outcomes with positive results.

You got a pain? Something not just working right? Do you feel you are the only one that is accountable?

The answer has already been written about. We want to share that, so our clients become better businesses, more profitable, with happy and engaged staff.

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If there was one thing you could do right now that would have the greatest impact for good for your business what would that be?

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Fergus Doyle

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