The Four Delusions of Success

Woman looking at her reflection

In his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith points out that the fundamental beliefs that drive our success can also make us resistant to change. We overestimate our contributions and sometimes take credit for things that others have accomplished while often ignoring our own shortcomings. These delusions are the result of success, not failure.

Are These Beliefs Holding You Back?

Goldsmith observes that the four key beliefs that have helped us become successful can also make it very difficult for us to effect change.

  1. “I have succeeded”  successful people view the past as the prologue to the future. This belief becomes an obstacle when change is truly necessary.
  2. “I can succeed”  successful people believe they can make things happen through sheer force of will and can steer things in their direction.
  3. “I will succeed” – successful people have unflappable optimism which can easily mutate into excessive optimism. They tend to overcommit, often falling short of those commitments, not having the time to complete them.
  4. “I choose to succeed” – successful people believe they do what they choose to do and that their behavior is the result of those choices making it less likely to change their behavior.

If any of this resonates with you, it’s time for a reality check. Challenge yourself. Taken too far, a key strength can become a weakness. If you’ve been thinking “it’s not broke, so why fix it?” you may be missing opportunities to change and to grow. And, you’re limiting the ability of those around you to change and grow as well.

In your next Clarity Break write down each key belief and do a self-assessment. In your next weekly Level 10 Meeting™ insert “We” for “I” and do a self-assessment as a team. Challenge each belief. Is it helping or hurting you? What behavioral changes are necessary? Are you committed to make those changes? Will you do it? Don’t inhale too much of the sweet smell of success.

How strong is your company?

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