What We’re Reading: Triggers


The SiteInSight team has been at it again, reading about how we can improve ourselves and help our clients get past obstacles, too.

Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith seemed predictable at first, providing nuanced thinking around why it’s so hard to change, and suggesting a structure to make it easier for change to stick. Along the lines of Power of Habit, which we’ve also read, Triggers suggested tricks for recognizing when an old habit is going to be provoked by our environment, and focused in on the second or so of space between being triggered and choosing our reaction.

The insights were sound, and the case studies featured prominent CEOs and highly intelligent and motivated people, which is always helpful because it serves to illustrate that we aren’t dummies just because we can’t effect change in our own lives.

We heard familiar messages about depletion, and how our self-discipline becomes worn out after a difficult decision or a fatiguing day.

Goldsmith introduces the novel concept of Accountability Questions, which he advises using at the end of each day with another person to evaluate our performance on the goals that are important to us. He also points out the difference in phrasing our goals in this way, “Did I try my hardest to (fill in the blank),” because this measures our effort. And we can’t blame circumstances for effort.

The real surprise came at the end of book when Goldsmith asked us to reflect on a real behavioral change we’ve made in our lives. Not breaking a bad habit that we had plenty of pressure and support to break. Not becoming aware of something about ourselves or others. Really changing how we behave toward a specific person, or toward many people in a specific circumstance, or changing our repetitive and defeatist gut reaction to something in our lives. This was a big moment in the book, because it forces us to realize just how little we actually change our own behaviors. We have all kinds of reasons we resist changing, and precious few examples of actually altering our behavior over the long term.

Once that realization was clear, we were glad we took good notes while reading the book, because we needed to go back and implement Goldsmith’s ideas!

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