Customer Reviews: Get Out of Your Own Way at Work...And Help Others Do the Same: Conquer Self-Defeating Behavior on the Job
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on March 15, 2006
I heard the author on a podcast and thought that what he had to say was interesting and relevant to identifying and changing self-defeating behaviors in a work environment. I think that the behaviors that he identifies in each chapter are relevant self-defeating behaviors and the writing is clear. However, I have been disappointed with this book for several reasons. Firstly, I think that the remedies proposed for each behavior are superficial prescriptions. For example, effetive delegation requires not just identifying a task to be delegated, but a multi-step process of identifying the task, explaining the task to the delegee, getting mutual agreement on what needs to be done, the time to complete the task, the resources availalble to complete it, and the expected standards at completion. No such framework is laid out. This is true of all the chapters in the book. Secondly, this would not be so bad if the author pointed the reader at other books or resources to flesh out these ideas. However, the book has no index and no bibliography or suggested references. This is an unpardonable sin in publishing, to my mind. No references and no index bespeaks a book rushed to market. Either that, or it's a tactic to get the author to consult to companies to give the specific information on how to remedy the behaviors.

I hope some of these criticisms can be addressed if there is to be a second edition of the book.
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on November 18, 2005
I read the the 40 chapters on self-defeating behaviors before I read the introduction to this book (I often read books that way due to my impatience). Goulston has an interesting spin on how and why we develop self-defeating behaviors which relates to how our support system responded to us when we faced challenges in childhood. He explains that our parents could have spoiled, criticized, neglected or supported us through those situations and that has a lot to do with whether we developed self-defeating or success developing behaviors (makes sense to me when I think of my upbringing). What I found most interesting after I read the introduction was realizing that Goulston was talking me through my self-defeating behaviors the way the supportive parent (I never had) would have. It was very therapeutic. Thank you Dr. Mark.
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on October 30, 2005
Peter Drucker has said "Half of the leaders that I meet don't need to learn what to DO - they need to learn what to STOP"!

Mark Goulston provides great insight into what we often need to learn to STOP doing. More importantly, he gives us some great guidelines on how to do this!
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Note: I read this book when it was first published (2005) and recently re-read it, curious to see how well the material has held up. If anything, it is more relevant now than ever before.

Those who have read this book's predecessor, Get Our of Your Own Way, already know that Mark Goulston (who co-authored that book with Philip Goldberg) is an pragmatic empiricist who is eager to know what works...and doesn' the real world. He also wants to know why. Whereas in the previous book the focus is on how individuals can avoid or overcome self-defeating habits in general, the focus in this book has a wider scope: it is on how essentially the same principles can help individuals to avoid or overcome self-defeating habits in their workplace...and meanwhile also help associates to do so. They are also relevant to relationships with family members and personal friends.

Of course, the health of those relationships at work and elsewhere all depend on the health of one's relationship with one's self. That is why I selected the Wilde observation for the title of this review because it correctly stresses, as does Goulston throughout his book, the importance of positive a self-image and mindset, of behavior that is self-supporting rather than self-defeating. Pogo the Possum observed, "We have met the enemy and he is us." OK, but it can also be true that we can be our own best friend, not narcissist would but with humility as well as affection, respect, and trust. I think this is what Carl Rogers had in mind when suggesting that healthy people are comfortable residing in their own bodies. Not self-satisfied and smug, perhaps even arrogant, but comfortable.

In effect, Goulston is saying to his reader, "I am going to do everything humanly possible to explain everything you need to know to overcome your own defeatism. Then, I will help you to help others by sharing this information but also to encourage and support them as they eliminate their own self-defeating attitude and behavior.

Wisely, Goulston first discusses why people get in their own way. "It turns out that self-defeating behavior is closer to our reflexive, early-neural, unthinking animal nature than to our higher human, thoughtful nature." Disciplined thinking to make tough decisions really is very hard work. When encountering real or perceived threats, we frequently respond instinctively. More often than not when our attitude and/or behavior is -- or is perceived to be -- a threat to someone else, they will probably respond the same way. These are the ingredients for a confrontation that could have been avoided if (huge "if") we understand the causes and effects of 40 troublemakers. Goulston devotes a separate chapter to each. They range from procrastination to fear of failure. Directly or indirectly, all 40 can result in avoidable self-inflicted wounds of one kind or another.

Goulston immediately establishes a personal rapport with his reader and sustains it throughout the narrative, making effective use of direct address. He shares his no-nonsense thoughts, empathic feelings, and practical suggestions without getting in his reader's way. Because he examines so many issues, I presume to suggest that those who read this book first read it cover-to-cover, then double back and re-read passages that are directly relevant to their specific concerns, doubts, needs, and interests. More specifically, to each reader's current needs re (a) "conquering" causes of self-defeating attitude and behavior and/or (b) helping another - or others - to do so. For many leaders and managers, this may well be the most valuable self-help book they ever read. The key word is "self" as both change agent and beneficiary.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Robert Sutton's The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't and Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best...and Learn from the Worst, Sylvia Lafair's Don't Bring It to Work: Breaking the Family Patterns That Limit Success, and The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It co-authored by Christine Pearson and Christine Porath.
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on October 23, 2005
4. I am over the age of 13. The Fine Print:All submitted reviews are subject to the license termWhether you are just getting started, or are a successful CEO, you will find wisdom in the pages of "Get Out of Your Way at Work." Mark Goulston, an executive coach and practicing psychiatrist, provides insights into self?defeating behaviors that hold good people back. For example, the book delves into issues such as procrastination, failure to listen, an inability to delegate, and an unwillingness to delegate. Rather than simply diagnose problems, Goulston provides insights that can turn excuses into action steps that will enable all readers to benefit. Using a combination of stories culled from experience as well as theory made relevant, this book navigates the sometimes choppy waters of management to provide readers with some clear?sighted advice. What's more, Goulton provides action plans for readers to tackle individual issues and turn potential problems into practical solutions. Such insights will enable use to exert a sense of calm over ourselves and by extension over our workplace. So what's holding you back? Read this book today and start putting some of Dr. Mark's insights to work for you now.
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on August 5, 2013
Mark Goulston is one of those rare business "gurus" who actually deserves the title! This is one of the top 5 business books I recommend to my coaching clients and students.

The chapters are short enough to be read and "chewed on" in ten minutes. I have my clients read a chapter a day as part of their program. The book is essentially a guide to smart, healthy communications within the work environment. Through believable stories gleaned from familiar scenarios, Goulston shows how all too common habits trip us up.

I've found that clients who show resistance to the coaching dynamic fall under the charm of Goulston's straightforward talk. Many of these chapters have served as springboards for lively and effective coaching conversations.

I've not read the newest edition of this book; but for a penny, this book will get you at least a million in return!
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on April 27, 2007
Humans are self-centered creatures generally incapable of recognizing our flaws. Even if we did, we lack the knowledge about how to correct them. Instead we see ourselves as we choose - rather than how others experience us.

In plain language, totally devoid of psycho-babble [even though the author is a credentialed psychiatrist], the author exposes the self-defeating behaviors which limit our success at work - if not in life too!

This book is an easy-to-read practical guide to identifying and rectifying the behaviors that holds us back from success. Each chapter identifies a self-limiting behavior and then provides a clear, clean and crisp example and manifestation of that behavior drawn from the author's own experience. The result is a book that is both revealing and instructional. Filled with analogies and metaphorical quotes from luminaries we recognize, it is laced throughout with common-sense what-to-do's and how-to-do's.

Interesting features include a bottom line comment at each chapter's end which summarizes the contents [aptly named Usable Insight] accompanied with appropriate action steps to take which rectify that behavior.

It's easy to see why the author is a highly respected and sought after coach, counselor, consultant and trusted advisor. This is a book to be shared with every one in your circle of associates. It will help each recognize their behaviors that limit personal growth and success in their job.

A must read.
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on December 10, 2005
There are employees who we know are smart and they conflict in any number of ways with management or with others within the organization. This book helps HR managers help their business owners and corporation shapers get into the thick skulls of those special employees that are shining stars on the verge of becoming supernovas. Corporations many times are charged with terminating an employee or facing the challenge of having an employee that is extremely talented terminate their employment, only to find out that this is basically unnecessary if they can successfully negotiate the behaviors of the employees so that it better serves the businesses' need, not just the narcassist needs of the employee. Yes, they work hard, but the company is in fact compensating them for that with the cars, cash and other perks they so successfully earn, and if they didn't perform, wouldn't earn those things. It's time that business managers and their HR people take back their responsibility and partnership of helping build successful employee careers by sharing with them the challenges and insights they face in building their companies successfully. Fortune 500 executives face these challenges, just as smaller companies do. Get Out Of Your Own Way At Work helps these supernovas realize before they self-destruct their careers, someone elses or far worse, the business' success, where they may be playing the part within this challenge, not just passing the buck and blame over to others, or taking advantage in ways that end up blowing up in their faces, making a mess of their futures or the company's.

I triped over this book as an HR manager searching for tools to help my business owner/manager successfully navigate a similar problem.

It should be required reading for all entry level employees (along with another favorite of mine "The Rules of Work and The Rules of Management" . Because employees step out of the academic world usually and then enter the business world, there are no hard fast rules, even if you attended an executive business university to guide you in how to manage yourself in the environment, or were raised with the self-disclipine required to be successful in the business world. These tools of knowledge are like boot-camp for entering the business world. HR folks suffer in silence trying to help these people and because its really up to them to get the business procedures and policies of the company when told to them, this book helps communicate to them what they don't get or what businesses usually don't think they need to communicate during the hiring process because any other behavior is cause for disciplinary action. The behaviors described in this book suit all types of industries and organizations. Dr. Goulston explains it so brilliantly and seamlessly, it's clear what our choices should be if we still exhibit the same behaviors after one is assigned to reading it because there is a chapter within the book about how the guilt of these descision effects us about the tough-love we should make if they don't get it. For those rare few that your organization seeks to help and no end to the frustruation or how to communicate it to those that create it, this book is a treasure for growth and career development within the business environment, no matter what the employee's behavior is. I believe that if applied the insights within this book can help prevent these behaviors from developing or derail if read early in one's own career. Even if HR people read it and share the knowledge with their owner/managers, it will tune us and our business owners and corporations shapers into how to recognize it early enough in an employee to help manage to getting rid of it.

If you have anyone in your organzation that sounds like what I've described here, do yourself a favor and GET THIS BOOK and make it required reading within your organzation!
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on July 4, 2006
This book is a wonderful resource. I find myself going to it when faced with a work situation where my normal responses and corrective measures aren't working. Dr. Goulston's book, organized by insightfully precise topics, provides an alternate way of thinking and acting in challenging situations - both inter-personal and personal. A great reference for when you don't have the time (or inclination) to delve into deep underlying causes of self-defeating behaviour, but prefer to take action and move ahead.
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on October 17, 2009
Get Out of Your Own Way at Work...And Help Others Do the Same by Mark Goulston is a fast, digestible read on a variety of failings that might beset you or a colleague at work. Procrastination, not taking No for an answer, and staying too long in a job you should leave are just 3 of the 40 items covered in the book. Each item has an anecdote to give it 3-d clarity, helpful tips, and a quote. All in all the short chapters provide a good snapshot of what the problem is and some strategies to address it.

Goulston created a very efficient book and seems to know his stuff. While I liked the breadth of it, I wanted to go deeper on each, even if it meant leaving some out. But that's my preference. This is a good book for the reference shelf when you find yourself stuck in a work rut or managing a difficult team member. You can get some quick tips and inspiration here.
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