TRIGGERS By Marshall Goldsmith
All of us are concerned about our behavior. After all, our behavior determines whether we are happy, sad or frustrated. We wish we could change ourselves for the better but the struggle is daunting. A trigger is any stimulus that reshapes our thoughts and actions. We are daily bombarded by triggers - people, events and circumstances that have the power and potential to change us. Triggers are virtually endless in number - there are good triggers, there are bad triggers, there are triggers that upset us as there are triggers that elevate our mood. How can we identify triggers so we can avoid the bad ones and repeat the good ones? Our environment is a powerful trigger that affects our behavior not always for the good. Goldsmith asserts that even though environmental forces are outside our control, we don’t have to become victims of circumstance - we do have a choice. As an executive coach Goldsmith has a simple technique for inducing change in client behavior. He interviews the client’s chief stakeholders such as colleagues, associates, close friends, etc. Then he reviews the feedback from the stakeholders with his client. From then on the client assumes responsibility for the behavioral change he wants to make. The executive coach then helps the client make lasting and positive change in the behavior he chooses as judged by the stakeholders he chooses. Why do we fail to make changes in our behavior even when we are fully charged up to do so? Goldsmith points out this is because man is a superior planner but an inferior doer. We may make any number of plans in the morning but as the day wanes and evening approaches we are sidetracked by other cares and we fail to implement our original plans. This phenomenon is known as ego depletion. To avoid this pitfall Goldsmith thinks we can create and forecast our environment. Like a bride and groom planning their wedding, all the factors that can impinge on the wedding can be isolated so that all the negative consequences can be avoided or eliminated. Goldsmith believes in the power of four ‘’magic moves’’ on changing behavior that is sure to bring out the best in us and others around us. Apologizing is one such magic move. ‘’Apology Is when behavioral change begins.’’ Only a cold hearted person will not forgive someone who admits he is wrong and apologizes. Asking for help is another magic move and more often than not it draws favorable responses from others. Optimism is a third magic move since confident individuals attract people with their never say die attitude. Lastly, it is active self-questioning that alters behavior and is likely to make others respond. Goldsmith believes it is important for everyone to become engaged. Towards that end he posited six active questions in a 10 day seminar to find out whether his clients were engaged: 1. Did I do my best to set clear goals today? 2. Did I do my best to make progress towards my goals today? 3. Did I do my best to find meaning today? 4. Did I do my best to be happy today? 5. Did I do my best to build positive relationships today? 6. Did I do my best to be fully engaged today? These questions improve our sense of what we can really change and we obtain responsibility and control over our lives instead of becoming victims of circumstance. Goldsmith urges everyone to keep a scoreboard on a scale of 0 to 10 and continually test our performance against it preferably with a third party roped in to monitor our progress. Goldsmith writes in a simple yet logical style and it is impossible to lose track of his ideas. For those who are anxious to lose their behavioral quirks and thereby bring about lasting change in their personalities, this book is an eye opener and a must read. It is a valuable addition to contemporary management literature.