There’s an old saying that what got you here won’t get you there. It was popularized by a book by Marshall Goldsmith in which he tells his readers they need to learn new skills and new behaviors in order to get to the next level. And while this is true, I have a bit of a bone to pick with this saying.
The idea that to achieve big goals we need to improve, learn, and strive for more makes a lot of sense. But it can also imply that we’re not enough, that we have to change everything about ourselves, and that the work we’ve done to get here isn’t worth much.
When I talk to people who are thinking about making a big change in their life and career, I often see them hesitate because they don’t want to “throw it all away”. They worry that the change they want to make is so different from what they’re doing now that they’ll be starting all over. My response is always the same, “why do you think you have to throw it all away?”
What got you here isn’t nothing. In fact, it’s a whole lot of something! And maybe, just maybe, it’s everything.
If you ignore what got you here you would be starting from scratch. And nobody starts from scratch. You might tell yourself that’s what you’re doing but it’s really just that annoying little voice inside your head that’s trying to protect you. Because if you believe it’s too late to start over you don’t have to take any chances. But that little voice that thinks it’s protecting you is really just keeping you from greatness.
What got you here is full of lessons you learned through mistakes and fumbles, skills you perfected by practicing them over and over, and leadership qualities you honed over time. And without them, you wouldn’t have been able to think about what to do next. So, don’t ignore what got you here. Look to your past for the wisdom, knowledge, and experience that will help you make your next move.
What skills, talents, gifts, and lessons learned do you have that will help you get to your next level? EVERYTHING you know now will help you move forward. You might have to get creative about it but there’s nothing you’ve learned in life that should be tossed out.
Some of these things may not be needed to the same degree they once were, or they might be applied differently than they were in the past, but they’re still part of who you are and they are the foundation for building your future.
Are there still new things to learn? Absolutely! But it’s much easier to take on new things when you know you’re already well equipped with a toolkit full of things you know how to use.
So, stop using all that you’ve invested to get here as an excuse not to go there. Use it to propel you there.
What got you here will help you get there.
You already know enough to take your next step.
So, what are you waiting for?