Triggers | Marshall Goldsmith

Summary of: Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts—Becoming the Person You Want to Be
By: Marshall Goldsmith


Are you ready to embark on a journey towards personal growth and lasting behavioral change? ‘Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts—Becoming the Person You Want to Be’ by Marshall Goldsmith reveal the hidden power of triggers – stimuli that reshape our thoughts and actions. In this summary, you’ll learn how triggers can directly or indirectly influence us, often unconsciously, and how to cultivate awareness of them to avoid the resistance that holds us back. The book highlights various techniques you can use to overcome behavior-inducing triggers and become the best version of yourself, including identifying your triggers, asking active questions, monitoring progress, and developing structure in your life.

Understanding Triggers

Triggers are stimuli that shape our thoughts and actions, and they can take many forms. They impact us in various ways, either positively or negatively. Positive triggers can remind us to perform positive acts, but negative triggers can be powerful enough to stop us from creating change. We may not always be aware of when we’re being triggered, and this is why triggers are so impactful. The author’s experience with his comb-over illustrates how triggers in our environment can pressure us to behave a certain way.

The Excuse Inventors

We resist changes that could improve our lives due to belief triggers – inner beliefs that we create to justify resistance. These triggers dupe us into thinking we’re capable of changing whenever we want, making us inaccurate in our assessments of ourselves. Even though we behave differently, based on our surroundings, we are often not aware of these patterns. In this manner, both internal and external triggers prevent us from achieving self-improvement goals.

Identify your Triggers

Identifying triggers is key to controlling behaviors. This summary explains how to identify your triggers and provides examples of how to use this knowledge to stay in control.

If you want to be the best version of yourself, you need to identify your triggers. But this is often easier said than done because we don’t always know what influences us. One way to gain self-awareness is to give yourself feedback by identifying your triggers.

To start, pick a behavioral goal, such as exercising in the morning, and make a list of the people and situations that influence whether you achieve this goal. Determine which triggers motivate you and which lead you astray. Ideally, triggers that motivate us should be things we want or need, like praise or money, while triggers that discourage us, like checking emails, are things we want to do but don’t really need.

Once you’ve identified your triggers, you can connect them to your behavior. By analyzing the pleasure situation that’s keeping you from achieving your goal, you may realize that a different time of day or a different activity might be better for you. With practice, you can learn to spot your triggers and choose how to respond to them, rather than acting on impulse.

For example, the author was once caught up in a moment of pleasure during an interview on The Today Show. Though he was enjoying himself, he knew he was under the influence of a pleasure trigger and resisted the impulse to keep talking. By recognizing and controlling his trigger, he avoided embarrassing himself on national television.

By identifying our triggers, we can gain control over our actions and live our best lives.

Overcoming Negative Environments

Learn how to tackle negative triggers in hostile environments by adapting your leadership style and knowing when to avoid or adjust to them.

Have you ever found yourself in an environment that makes it hard to focus on your work because it’s more hostile than supportive? Negative environments are a challenge to overcome, but by adapting your own approach, you can nip those negative triggers in the bud and become a leader of your own behavior.

To tackle a project that requires a specific approach, you might adopt a determined, step-by-step leadership style. For instance, senior partner Rennie carried an index card that reminded him not to confuse his staff and never to give the same assignment to more than one person. This helped him to direct his own behavior during staff meetings.

Another way to deal with environmental triggers is to forecast the environment, determining whether to avoid it completely or adjust yourself to it. Sachi, a highflying tech executive, anticipated how her low-income friends in India would react to details about her job by thinking she was bragging and changing. Since she couldn’t avoid this environment, she simply adjusted the way she described her job. She mentioned that she travels a lot for her work, which can be tiring, rather than waxing lyrically about the trips to Paris. By doing so, she wasn’t insensitive to her friends in their environment and demonstrated her qualities as a sensitive and caring person.

With the right mindset and leadership style, you can learn how to adapt to any negative environment, become a leader of your own behavior, and overcome any unfavorable scenario you face.

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