How Success Distorts Self Image and What To Do About It

Marshall Goldsmith in IndiaSome wisdom from leading management thinker Marshall Goldsmith during a recent public visit to India:

“…The more successful people become, the more positive reinforcement you get. This is called the ‘Superstition Complex.’ You think that if you behave this way, you are successful. And you are successful because you behave this way.

For instance, has anyone here been promoted in the last two years? Now those of you who have been promoted: Have you noticed that your jokes have gotten a little funnier, everything you say is very wise; you even look like you’ve lost weight?

It is very hard not to let this nonsense go to your head. It is very important that the more successful we become, we learn to demonstrate our humility and tell ourselves, “I am here, I am successful because of something and despite other things.”

Marshall has developed over the years the practice of “Feed-Forward.” How it works: People reach out to one another and say, “My name is X and I want to get better at Y.” You ask for ideas and people give you ideas and you treat those ideas as a gift. You don’t put the person down; you say thank-you and then you listen and follow-up on it. Amazingly, people get better and it’s positive and it really works.”

“…Buddha says, listen to everything but only choose what works for you. Well, that is the essence of feed-forward. I ask you for ideas, listen to you, I try to seek value in what you are saying, I don’t promise to do everything you say but I do promise to listen and pick up the ideas that I can use.”