We continue our look at “The 20 Bad Habits” by Marshall Goldsmith, outlined in his book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There – How Successful People Become Even More Successful.”

Last week I shared a secret how Marshall has become so successful. In addition you can find links to parts one through three of my posts.

Let’s break down the next chunk of bad habits ya gotta break right now:

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.

Who hasn’t blamed someone for their current circumstances or something that happened in the past? Guilty. Luckily I broke this habit many many years ago.

Let’s face it. The blame game has you churning lots of energy cycles. Take that energy and put it into something that will move you forward.

Break the Bad Habit:

Sometimes blame is used to protect ourselves. Other times we blame because we’re still not over the past. Then again, blaming is a convenient way of not taking responsibility for our own lives.

If you’re still blaming someone I have to ask, what’s the payoff for you in playing the blame game?

If you answer that question honestly, you’ll come up with the answer to break this habit relatively quickly.


14. Playing favorites: Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.

I experienced this habit a lot as a player in the sales game in corporate America. God, I don’t miss that world one iota. Towards the end of my career, I hated my job.

One time during a sales meeting, I watched a branch manager and the VP ambush an underperforming sales rep in front of the entire team. At the end of this 30 minute bloodbath, everyone knew this salesman was gonna get the axe. And he did.

Treating someone unfairly is inexcuseable and inhumane.

Break the Bad Habit:

When you play favorites, you’re telling others they’re inferior or less than adequate.

If I take a contrarian stance on this bad habit, sometimes playing the favor game works in the leaders favor.

For example, if you want to motivate a sales team, shine the light on the star performer and you bubble the creative juices of the rest of the group.

The leaders I most admire are the ones who have an even playing field and treat everyone with dignity and respect.

To break this habit, understand the leader is always being watched.

Do you want followers to speak their mind? Think outside the box? Take risk? Then by all means, model the way for your team. Create a safe space for players to step beyond their comfort zone. I guarantee you’ll get more than their minimum.


15. Refusing to express regret: The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we’re wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.

The longer we wait to admit our mistakes and/or obfuscate the truth, the problem persists, grows bigger, and takes longer for it to go away.

Lanny Davis served as a special counsel to President Bill Clinton, and was a spokesperson for the President and the White House on numerous legal issues. As his tour of duty was about to come to a conclusion, the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.

Based on his White House experience, Lanny Davis came up with a formula for dealing with any personal or organizational crisis:

Tell it early, tell it all, and tell it yourself.

If you follow this formula, a bad situation will go away a lot quicker. Mr. Clinton decided to take another route. The rest is history.

Break the Bad Habit:

In Jim Collins best selling book, “Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap…And Other’s Don’t” he reveals what makes the best organizations tick. He called these Level 5 organizations. The people who led these organizations were dubbed Level 5 Leaders.

Collins discovered a conspicuous golden thread among Level 5 Leaders that made them stand above the rest. They were competitive, humble, and vulnerable.

Level 5 leaders are humble in they make it a priority to shine the spotlight on the team. They refrain from showering themselves with a bundle of accolades.

In addition, Level 5 Leaders are vulnerable. They’re willing to say, “I don’t have all the answers. I need your help.” This empowers the team to go above and beyond and deliver results way above the standard minimum.

Want to be Level 5? Get out of the spotlight, put your team on center stage, and applaud them with vigor as you stand in the wings.


16. Not listening: The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.

As long as I could remember, I’ve always been a great listener.

I was shy growing up. I didn’t particularly like to be the center of attention. Still don’t for that matter.

Because of how I’m wired, I prefer to listen and have someone else do the talking. Great quality to have as a coach.

Whenever I ask a leader the biggest challenge facing them as an organization? More times than not, they say better communication among the ranks.

In today’s world there are lots of distractions. Mostly electronic ones. So, it’s becoming more of a challenge to be present when in the presence of another.

Secondly, we tend to listen on a surface level. We listen to the words though we’re always formulating a response before the other person is finished speaking.

Break the Bad Habit:

Here’s a tip that’s easy to remember and one you can swiftly put into action. Ready?

Whenever you’re engaged in conversation either on the phone or in person think of the acronym W A I T

Which stands for:

Why Am I Talking

One thing about the aforementioned President Clinton, he was a great communicator. Whenever you were in his presence, you felt like you were the only one in the room.

Practice W A I T  and see what happens.

See ya next week!

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