The Problem with Being Too Good at What You Do

Editor's Note: This article was originally published by Marshall Goldsmith on his blog, Thinkers50. It has been reposted here with permission. 

When it comes to changing our behavior, there are two options that people usually try. The first is attempting a new behavior (like running Saturday mornings, or calling our parents on Thursday afternoons). The second option most people try is eliminating something.

Eliminating is our most liberating, therapeutic action—but we make it reluctantly. Like cleaning out an attic or garage, we never know if we’ll regret jettisoning a part of us. Maybe we’ll need it in the future? Maybe it’s the secret of our success?

The most significant transformational moment in my career was an act of my elimination. And, it wasn’t my idea.

In my late thirties, I was flying around the country giving talks about organizational behavior to companies. It was lucrative, and I needed my mentor Dr. Paul Hersey to point out the downside, or I never would have grown.

“You’re too good at what you’re doing,” Paul told me. “You’re making too much money selling your day rate to companies.”

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