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Tripping Over Your Own…

Two feet. Perhaps you saw the recent news video about runway models who were assigned to walk in stiletto heeled sandals on platform soles made of golf balls? Yes, you read right, golf balls. Obviously, not the brightest nor most sustainable design, that set even the most graceful, balanced and elegant model up for tripping. The reality is that most of us do not need golf ball soled shoes to trip over ourselves, our own “two feet”, because we have engrained habits that do it for us.

At least that is what Marshall Goldsmith contends in his new bestseller, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. In the book, Goldsmith shares with his readers what he has learned through his years of coaching and consulting with a myriad of successful CEOs. He contends that successful people limit themselves with behavioral habits that often they are not even aware they have. Or if they are aware of them, they consider them part of their personality, thus, unchangeable. Goldsmith further contends that people make the assumption that because their habits/behaviors have worked so far in getting them to this level of success, they will continue working, so they plod on doing things the same way. Ultimately, Goldsmith’s conclusion is that to advance to another plateau of success, however you define it, requires adopting new behaviors.

Goldsmith has identified numerous rather common behavioral habits that lead to people tripping over their own “two feet”, and in doing so, marginalize their potential. I see it all the time…in myself and in my clients. I prefer to phrase it as the limitation of an individual’s strengths, for all behaviors applied at the right place and right time, have the opportunity to be strengths, and likewise, applied at the wrong time and place, the opportunity to be limitations. Regardless of how I phrase it, at some point in our life, most of us reach a plateau from which we struggle to advance past.

Because of the paradoxical complexity and simplicity of human nature, we do not need golf ball soled shoes to trip over our own two feet. Self-disclosing, it is my tongue that I most often trip over, and according to Goldsmith, I am not alone. Of the habits he identifies as keeping successful people from advancing, the majority deal with the tongue:

  • Making excuses
  • Making negative comments, particularly with a sarcastic or cynical tone
  • Refusing to express regret
  • Forgetting to express gratitude
  • Talking rather than listening
  • Excessive use of no; but; or yeah/yes, but
  • Speaking when angry.

From my viewpoint, these habits apply to many, regardless of position in a corporation or their professional occupation. Perhaps it is refreshing to know that even those who represent our culture’s definition of success have the same habits ultimately limiting their success that we all do.

The good news is that we can manage our behaviors to minimize their limitations. Doing so just takes awareness, intention, attention, and action.

Not long ago I worked with a client, Susie, who was seeking an internal promotion, and frustrated that despite being selected for several interviews and having a history of good evaluations, she was being passed over. I thought of her when I read Goldsmith’s list, as she embodied many of these habits, and wanted to advance, yet was struggling to do so. The good news is she was eager and willing to stop her self-limiting behaviors. Specifically, Susie had a tendency to use the word “but” a lot—in her written and spoken word. True to Goldsmith’s contention, Susie did not realize how frequently she used the word as it was simply habit, and not necessarily one she or others would have identified as bad. She quickly grasped how it was limiting her progress, and contributing to her tendency to be pessimistic and sarcastic, so she decided to make a conscious effort to stop using the word. While she did get a promotion, more importantly she had an internal shift in attitude, in energy, and in identification of possibilities. Susie was willing to put attention with her intention and take action to change many of her self-limiting behaviors. Result, she moved on to her next plateau.

Extra Ordinary

What, if any, of Goldsmith’s list of limiting habits can you relate to? Own up to? 

What actions can you take to minimize their limiting influence?

How many times today did you talk when you could have listened? Forgot to say thank you?

About Extra Ordinary Living

Janet began her coaching journey in January of 2004, leaving behind a satisfying career as a healthcare executive. Working first under the company name, Tiberius Enterprises, in January of 2007, Janet adopted the company name, Extra Ordinary Living, symbolizing her desire to work with people who defy the law of average and want to live extraordinary lives, consistently adding the extra to the ordinary. Her by-line embracing sustainable change is reflective of two intentions. First is to have the changes a client makes have long term positive implications. Second is to live a life that respects the importance of sustaining our planet’s lives for generations to follow.

As an Executive Coach, Janet’s intention is to assist service professionals and organizations to maximize their return on human capital….managing human behaviors for optimal outcomes. Janet has repeatedly found that an individual’s professional and personal satisfaction and happiness is often limited by their very own “human capital.” She loves working with people to identify and own their natural tendencies, abilities and talents; to recognize their limitations, and apply all in creating the life they have historically only dreamed about. As a professional coach, Janet is trained to listen, to observe and to customize her approach to match her client’s needs. She provides tools, support, structure and accountability to help her clients unleash their full potential and optimize results.

Having a coach herself for over four years, Janet has found the best thing about coaching is that it is all about you, the client, and what you want. A coach may share her opinion, and give you advice; however, it is all up to you to pick and choose what you want to accept. A coach suspends judgment, and supports you in your decisions.

With the coaching philosophy as her foundation, Janet is also an inspirational Professional Speaker. She has spoken at local, state and national conferences, providing the plenary session as well as more structured workshops. Her goal is to impart useful, practical and memorable information in a fun and dynamic way to assist her audiences in living extra ordinary lives. Janet always customizes her content to match her audience.

 Interested in learning more? Please contact Janet by phone at 540-342-3040, email,, or visit the website,


Janet Crawford MHA, MBA Professional Certified Coach

Extra Ordinary Living is written for aspiring individuals looking for new perspectives and ideas for living life differently by finding the Extra in the Ordinary.

Sustainable Living Tip:

In his book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith is essentially sharing his tips for creating and maintaining sustainable relationships. For many of us, the first words out of our mouth were please and thank you for we did not get what we wanted or asked for unless we said the magic words. When we did, everyone smiled. And we soon realized the true magic for Grandma could not turn down a good old fashioned please, even if it was after our bed time.

Thank you.
You’re welcome.

Good words with good energy for sustaining life. Use them with intention. Reap the rewards. 


""Habits are safer than rules; you don't have to watch them. And you don't have to keep them either. They keep you."
– Frank Crane

"Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence."
– Robert Frost

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