Marshall Goldsmith Quotes
Books by Marshall Goldsmith
Best 55 Quotes by Marshall Goldsmith – Page 1 of 2
“Five qualities that you need to bring to an activity in order to do it well are: motivation, knowledge, ability, confidence, and authenticity.”
“Improvement is hard. If it were easy, we’d already be better.”
“Mojo is that positive spirit toward what we are doing now, that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside.”
“Accepting is most valuable when we are powerless to make a difference. Yet our ineffectuality is precisely the condition we are most loath to accept. It triggers our finest moments of counterproductive behavior.”
“An excuse explains why we fell short of expectations after the fact. Our inner beliefs trigger failure before it happens. They sabotage lasting change by canceling its possibility.
We employ these beliefs as articles of faith to justify our inaction and then wish away the result. I call them belief triggers.”
“Every decision in the world is made by the person who has the power to make the decision. Make peace with that.”
“Excusing our momentary lapses as an outlier event triggers a self-indulgent inconsistency — which is fatal for change.”
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“Fate is the hand of cards we’ve been dealt. Choice is how we play the hand.”
“Getting mad at people for being who they are makes as much sense as getting mad at a chair for being a chair.”
“If we do not create and control our environment, our environment creates and controls us.”
“If we’re satisfied with our life — not necessarily happy or delighted that we’ve exceeded our wildest expectations, just satisfied — we yield to inertia. We continue doing what we’ve always done.
If we’re dissatisfied, we may go to the other extreme, falling for any and every idea, never pursuing one idea long enough so that it takes root and actually shapes a recognizably new us.”
“If you’ve ever binge-watched a season or two of a TV show on Netflix when you should be studying, or finishing an assignment, or going to sleep, you know how an appealing distraction can trigger a self-defeating choice.”
“Inside each of us are two separate personas. There’s the leader/planner/manager who plans to change his or her ways. And there’s the follower/doer/employee who must execute the plan.”
“Integrity is an all-or-nothing virtue (like being half pregnant, there’s no such thing as semi-integrity).”
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“Just because people understand what to do doesn’t ensure that they will actually do it.”
“None of this makes sense. At best, you’ve spent a lot of time failing to change someone’s mind. At worst, you’ve made an enemy, damaged a relationship, and added to your reputation for being disagreeable.”
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“The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.”
“People don’t get better without follow-up. So let’s get better at following up with our people.”
“Sometimes the better part of valor — and common sense — is saying: I’ll pass.”
“Structure not only increases our chance of success, it makes us more efficient at it.”
“The more aware we are, the less likely any trigger, even in the most mundane circumstances, will prompt hasty unthinking behavior that leads to undesirable consequences.”
“The most significant transformational moment in my career was an act of elimination. It wasn’t my idea.
I was in my late thirties and doing well flying around the country giving the same talk about organizational behavior to companies. I was on a lucrative treadmill of preserving, but I needed my mentor Paul Hersey to point out the downside.
“You’re too good at what you’re doing,” Hersey told me. “You’re making too much money selling your day rate to companies.” When someone tells me I’m “too good” my brain shifts into neutral — and I bask in the praise.
But Hersey wasn’t done with me. “You’re not investing in your future,” he said. “You’re not researching and writing and coming up with new things to say. You can continue doing what you’re doing for a long time. But you’ll never become the person you want to be.”
For some reason, that last sentence triggered a profound emotion in me. I respected Paul tremendously. And I knew he was right. In Peter Drucker’s words, I was 'sacrificing the future on the altar of today'.
I could see my future and it had some dark empty holes in it. I was too busy maintaining a comfortable life. At some point, I’d grow bored or disaffected, but it might happen too late in the game for me to do something about it.
Unless I eliminated some of the busywork, I would never create something new for myself. Despite the immediate cut in pay, that’s the moment I stopped chasing my tail for a day rate and decided to follow a different path. I have always been thankful for Paul’s advice.”
“The most thankless decision I make is the one that prevents something bad from happening, because I can never prove that I prevented something even worse.”
“This is a natural response that combines three competing impulses:
1) our contempt for simplicity (only complexity is worthy of our attention);
2) our contempt for instruction and follow-up; and
3) our faith, however unfounded, that we can succeed all by ourselves.
In combination these three trigger an unappealing exceptionalism in us. When we presume that we are better than people who need structure and guidance, we lack one of the most crucial ingredients for change: humility.”
“To avoid undesirable behavior, avoid the environments where it is most likely to occur.”
“We can change not only our behavior but how we define ourselves. When we put ourselves in a box marked “That’s not me”, we ensure that we’ll never get out of it.”
“When we presume that we are better than people who need structure and guidance, we lack one of the most crucial ingredients for change: humility.”
“Whether the subject is climate change or the life span of unicorns, when you cite demonstrable facts to counter another person’s belief, a phenomenon that researchers call 'the backfire effect' takes over.
Your brilliant marshaling of data not only fails to persuade the believer, it backfires and strengthens his or her belief. The believer doubles down on his or her position — and the two of you are more polarized than ever.”
“Whether you’re leading other people or leading the follower in you, the obstacles to achieving your goals are the same.”
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What Got You Here Won't Get You There Quotes
“A leader who cannot shoulder the blame is not someone we will follow blindly into battle. We instinctively question that individual’s character, dependability, and loyalty to us. And so we hold back on our loyalty to him or her.”
“An old Buddhist parable illustrates the challenge — and the value — of letting go of the past. Two monks were strolling by a stream on their way home to the monastery. They were startled by the sound of a young woman in a bridal gown, sitting by the stream, crying softly. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she gazed across the water. She needed to cross to get to her wedding, but she was fearful that doing so might ruin her beautiful handmade gown.
In this particular sect, monks were prohibited from touching women. But one monk was filled with compassion for the bride. Ignoring the sanction, he hoisted the woman on his shoulders and carried her across the stream — assisting her journey and saving her gown.
She smiled and bowed with gratitude as the monk splashed his way back across the stream to rejoin his companion. The second monk was livid. ‘How could you do that?’ he scolded. ‘You know we are forbidden to touch a woman, much less pick one up and carry her around!’
The offending monk listened in silence to a stern lecture that lasted all the way back to the monastery. His mind wandered as he felt the warm sunshine and listened to the singing birds. After returning to the monastery, he fell asleep for a few hours. He was jostled and awakened in the middle of the night by his fellow monk.
‘How could you carry that woman?’ his agitated friend cried out. ‘Someone else could have helped her across the stream. You were a bad monk.’
‘What woman?’ the sleepy monk inquired. ‘Don’t you even remember? That woman you carried across the stream,’ his colleague snapped.
‘Oh, her,’ laughed the sleepy monk. ‘I only carried her across the stream. You carried her all the way back to the monastery.’
The learning point is simple: When it comes to our flawed past, leave it at the stream. I am not suggesting that we should always let go of the past. You need feedback to scour the past and identify room for improvement. But you can’t change the past. To change you need to be sharing ideas for the future.”
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“Poor is a state of mind. Broke is, “I’m just passing through.”
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