This book is a "great gift" from Marshall Goldsmith to his reader. How so? In the Coda, he suggests this exercise:
"Imagine that you are 95 years old and ready to die." By then you (i.e. the reader) understand what is really important and what isn't, what matters and what doesn't. "What advice would this wise `old you' have for the `you' who is [receiving the advice]? Take your time and answer the question on two levels: personal advice and professional advice. Jot down a few words that capture what the old you would be saying to the younger you. Once you have written these words down, the rest is simple: Just do whatever you wrote down. Make it your resolution for the rest of the current year, and the next. You have just defined your `there.'"
Everything Goldsmith provides in this volume can help his readers to develop or reactivate what he aptly characterizes as "a built-in GPS mechanism" so that they will "be blessed with [both a map and] an internal compass that orients them automatically. They will [always] make the correct turn and end up where they intended via the most economical route...[because they possess] an exquisite sense of who they are, which translates into perfect pitch about how they come across to others."
It sounds easy, doesn't it? All you have to do is read this book and (like a magic carpet) it will get you from where you are now to where you want to be. On the contrary, for most people who read this book, the challenge is formidable. First, they must accept the fact that Pogo was right: "We have met the enemy and he is us." Then, they must focus on correcting those faults and breaking those habits that currently control their interpersonal behavior. And then they must focus each day, each moment, on avoiding those faults and habits. They cannot do it themselves. With all due respect to the value of Goldsmith's counsel, those who commit to this difficult process of self-improvement must seek the assistance of members of their family as well as associates in their workplace.
Goldsmith identifies twenty of the most common flaws, none of which is a flaw of skill, intelligence, or personality. (That's a key point). "What we're dealing with here are challenges of in interpersonal behavior, often leadership behavior. They are the egregious everyday annoyances that make your workplace more noxious than it needs to be. They don't happen in a vacuum. They are transactional flaws performed by one person against others." Throughout the narrative, Goldsmith cites dozens of real-world examples to illustrate key points but, for obvious reasons, changes the names of those involved. It should be noted that, for several decades, Goldsmith career has primarily involved providing executive coaching services to senior-level executives and he does so on a one-on-one basis. To the extent possible, he establishes the same relationship with each reader. To his credit, he has a clear sense of who he isn't (e.g. a judge of others' behavior) and what he doesn't do (e.g. define anyone else's "there"). As Goldsmith frequently acknowledges, it remains for each reader to determine which flaws are most detrimental to her or his interpersonal relationships. He also points out that many people are either unaware of their faults or unaware of the extent they are resented by others. Hence the importance of continuous feedback from family members and business associates.
The first portion of this review identifies the "there" to which the title refers. It is important to understand that you can get there only if you fully understand both what your "here" is and why. (It may not be where you think it is.) Read the book, then complete the exercise briefly described earlier so that you can obtain "wisdom" that you already possess. "Use that wisdom now. Don't look ahead. Look behind. Look back from your old age at the life you hope to live. Know that you need to be happy now, to enjoy your friends and family, to follow your dreams.
"You are here.
You can get there!
Let the journey begin."