Changing strategy: Triggers By Marshall Goldsmith

Leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith takes a look at why most people find it difficult to change their behaviours and he offers practical suggestions to overcome those obstacles.

triggers-250x378Changing strategy

Published by: Crown Business

ISBN: 978-0804141239

Pages: 272

Price: INR 1219

Face it: At some point in your life, you have set goals for changing certain behaviours in yourself, and failed to follow through to achieve the results you envisioned. Perhaps you wanted to be a better neighbour, or not raise your voices at your children—whatever it is, you are able to easily identify what you want to change about your behaviour, but somehow, are unable to effect the change. In Triggers, leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith takes a look at why most people find it difficult to change their behaviours as he offers practical suggestions to overcome the obstacles.

The book is laid out in four parts. In part one, “Why Don’t We Become the Person We Want to Be?”, the author explains that it is easy to find excuses and blame circumstances for our inability to change our behaviour. Our reactions are impulsive, not thoughtful. For those of you who have identified the behaviour you want to change, and are motivated, the author encourages you to find the triggers, both internal and external, that are holding you back.

In part two, “Try”, the author introduces the acronym AIWATT: Am I Willing, At This Time to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic? Every time you are faced with a choice to either engage or to “let it go”, the author encourages you to ask yourself the AIWATT question as a first principle to become the person you want to be. The answer to that question at the given time, under the given circumstances, will determine how you react to that situation, thereby helping you create the behavioural change you aspire.

In part three, “More Structure, Please”, you learn that structure not only increases your chances of success, it makes you more efficient at it. Not all structures are the same, so you must arrive at what works for you in the given situation. When you make a shopping list, you impose a structure by clearly stating what you need to buy and what you don’t. You schedule your appointments on your calendars and set reminders to impose structure on your daily life. Yet, when it comes to interpersonal interactions, or your own reactions, you prefer to wing it and go with your instincts, hindering your attempts at changing your behaviours in a thoughtful and structured way.

The author also points out that your environment constantly conspires against you and depletes you. Perhaps a big part of your day is pacifying irate customers, or perhaps you sit in a too-long meeting without accomplishing much, or you battle with technology all day to get even simple jobs done. All of this drains you, depletes you, leaving you prone to less prudent actions that you might regret.

The book suggests that there is an infinitesimal ‘space’ between a trigger and your reflexive response. If you can learn to recognise this space and increase it to allow for awareness and choice, you can learn to redirect your impulse to arrive at an appropriate response. When you transform your thoughtless impulsive response to a thoughtful chosen response, you begin to achieve the change you want.

In the last part, “No Regrets”, the author asks you to imagine what a drudgery it would be to go through life never changing the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the social and political views you hold. You know that change is the only constant thing in life. Yet, when it comes to changing how you treat people or how you interact with others, you wear the badge of changelessness with pride. You tell yourself: “This is who I am.”

When you cling to a negative behaviour that affects you and the ones you love, you are choosing to be miserable and make others miserable too. The book concludes by asking you to think about one change that you won’t regret later on. Be it the scolding response to your misbehaving child, or the sarcastic remark you are quick to blurt out—if you can change one thing and continue doing it forever without regretting it, now is the time to do it.


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