What Got You Here, Won't Get You There

When I was promoted to my first senior management position, I remember being hit with an acute pang of anxiety. It was a very specific kind of anxiety. Not the kind I was used to--like I drank way too much caffeine which resulting in a million little jumping beans having a dance party in my stomach. No, this was a different anxiety. This was an anxiety in my head--a swirl of questions, thoughts and concerns filling up all the crevices of my brain space like fresh, thick concrete being poured into a new sidewalk settling into the cracks.

I had all these questions: How was I supposed to ensure the success of the team? How was I supposed to carve out time for my own professional development? How would I be able to garner and maintain the respect of my colleagues in this new position? What does success look like for this role?

My anxiety was a manifestation of so many questions to which I didn’t have the answers. It was signaling an alert with the message “the way that you’ve been operating has got to change if you're going to be successful with this next step.”

"The way that you've been operating has got to change if you're going to be successful with this next step."

The promotion sparked a seismic shift in my self-awareness. It was because of that experience, wading through those questions full of unknowns, that I became incisively aware of what I did not know.

Marshall Goldsmith’s book What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There was able to articulate what I had been feeling intuitively during that time: in order for me to gracefully progress in my new role I needed to change a lot of the way I had been operating up until that point.

The truth is…we all don’t know what we don’t know. We are changing at every moment of every day. While sometimes we have big milestones help us sharpen our consciousness, we need to help ourselves be our own milestone creators and be attune to those everyday moments that signal a shift and figure out how to effectively navigate through what’s next.

"The truth is...we all don't know what we don't know."

When you find yourself experiencing a change or with a quiet moment for reflection, ask yourself: “What got you to today? What’s going to get you to tomorrow?”.

Alison Gilbert