A trigger is any stimulus that influences our behavior” — Marshall Goldsmith
I have been reading Marshall Goldsmith’s books for a while now. I found his book What Got You Here, Won't Get You There quite motivational. It's one of my most-read books and I have recommended it to many people. That book was all about how successful people can become more successful and he challenged us to examine the habits and behaviors that can inhibit our success. Triggers extends the same lesson to personal improvement and inspires us to get more out of our life.
Primarily this book asks you to try and master your triggers — if not external, then internal. Most of the time we decide to do one thing but some negative trigger like anger or spite veers us off course to do another thing, which is most likely detrimental to our goal. This book suggests that people are self-indulgent when it comes to their goals, compromising them by their emotional triggers. He believes that these emotional triggers are influenced by the environment to a large extent. One of the most interesting concepts in this book is about one's varying personas of a boss, a parent or a business opponent, which is often influenced to a large extent by environmental cues that subtly manipulate behavior and responses.
We all want to be the best but never quite reach that potential. Goldsmith's belief states that if we proceed through life with a certain amount of discipline, we could bring about beneficial change in our lives. He explains the need to construct self-regulatory triggers to overcome our procrastination. These triggers can be active questions like ‘Did I do my best?’ or strategic ‘Did I do my best to set clear goals?’ or professional, ‘Did I preserve all client relationships?’. Marshall states that these ‘nudges’ to our behavior will get us to take stock of our actions and also question our failure to act. He believes that without structure, we refuse to change and relapse to our old selves. But he doesn’t insist on self-discipline as a hard and fast rule, instead he talks more of a self-chosen nudge.
He has created a Wheel of Change model, which includes the actions of creating, preserving, eliminating and accepting, wherein you either change or keep positive elements or you change or keep negative elements to bring about changes in you.
For me, these lessons resonate with my own personal belief of self-discipline to achieve self-improvement. I follow the same principles in both my personal and professional life. His leadership examples are especially helpful in understanding the success of those people. His work with leaders like Alan Mulally, Frances Hesselbein, Dr John Noseworthy, Dr Raj Shah and Dr Jim Yong Kim sheds light on how structuring one's behavior based on our environment, can lead to a meaningful and sustained change that will allow us to make every moment count and prepare diligently for potential challenges.
I believe in the unspoken implication that without self-scrutiny we will never be able to assess our self worth and neither will we be able to achieve our goals. Though short, this book packs quite a punch philosophically by asking you to ‘Invest in your future'. It makes you re-examine your life and maybe help you change it in a profound and unforgettable manner through small changes.