Seven Bad Habits of Successful People?

As contrasted to Stephen Covey’s book – ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, do successful people do things that get in their own way at times? 

Marshall Goldsmith is an executive performance coach and he has written a book called ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There’. 

He’s called in when a company is considering promoting someone to CEO or one of the ‘C’ level positions but for some reason they have a reservation. The executive seems to be ‘stuck’ in some form of bad behavior. 

What Marshall found is that successful people tend to think that their constructive behavior contributed to their success (a reasonable assumption), but they also make the mistake of thinking their destructive behavior also contributed to their success. They also tend to overlook the contribution dumb luck may have had. 

He names 20 bad habits in the book and says they seem to be rooted in 4 common urges. The urge to; win, ‘show what I know’, rationalize or disengage due to lack of personal gain. 

Seven Bad Habits

I’ve distilled these from the 20 Marshall outlines in his book. 

  1. L’il Ole Me – Rationalize that a negative attribute is a ‘virtue’
  2. The Punisher – Blame others including the messenger
  3. Interupty –  ‘listening’ is just an impatient pause for the other person to finish
  4. Possessed – acting out of anger or another negative emotion
  5. Clinger – going backwards to the past to explain why things are and can’t change
  6. Smarty  – have the last word or withhold useful information  
  7. Perfecto – don’t admit to mistakes or a willingness to learn & grow 

My smile – as I thought of others who display these habits – went to a frown – as I thought about the times I’ve demonstrated these same bad habits.

Fortunately for others, myself and maybe even you, there is a simple yet powerful cure.

The Cure

  1. Recognize ‘D=A’  – Identify which urge is at play (I call this ‘D=A’ because I’ve been told that when I’m Defensive, I tend to be an Ass)
  2. Pause
  3. Pick 1 of the following 3 options – Say Nothing or Thank-you or Sorry. 
  4. Make a weekly list of people you want to – 1. Thank 2. Apologize to and/or 3. Share information with.

If you don’t like this article, I won’t say anything (option 1).

If you do like it, I’d like to thank you (option 2).

I’d also like to say sorry –  just in case.

1 thought on “Seven Bad Habits of Successful People?

  1. I think that #2 is one of the single most important things to do. The times when I get myself into trouble are the times when I haven’t taken that moment to consider what is actually going on versus my perception of it, and whether my reaction is appropriate.

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