Triggers

By Marshall Goldsmith

In a Nutshell:

We don’t simply become the person we want to be by thinking about the person we want to be.  Life is not like The Matrix.  You cannot simply upload knowledge into your brain and have the associated muscle memory that comes with years of experience.

We are great planners, and we suck at implementation.

The Deeper Dive:

There is a crucial, really hard step to changing our behavior. We have to actively seek out feedback from others about our behavior.  (We cannot see ourselves as others do). Ask yourself if your behavior is getting the results you want. Look at the consequences of your behavior.  Put that learning into action.  He gives a simple example.  I want a good driving record, and I want to get to where I am going quickly/on time.  Does this behavior lead to speeding and speeding tickets? Being stopped delays you and cost you money and time.  Now act: slow down, leave a little earlier, and you avoid consequences, while getting the results you do want.

Another difficulty is that we have very limited control.  We only control our attitude about events, not the events themselves. There are going to be Triggers in our life, which create an Impulse.  This is the crucial stage: notice the Impulse and the choices you have.  Choose the Behavior that gets the Results you want, instead of letting the Impulse drive your typical Action which results in the Consequences you are trying to avoid.  Start small – with easier topics and move up from there.

We have a plan, but fail to execute. Why? As Mike Tyson would say, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Read this chapter about the story where people are paying hundreds of dollars because they cannot keep a simple pledge “not interrupt or say anything judgmental during dinner.”  Violators pay $20 per violation, and they keep paying over and over again, with one exception.  Prepare for the everyday, dull things that smack you in the face. 

Then he reiterated the need for input from others. WHY? Because 90% of us think we are above average – We suck at self-evaluation. We need to create a structure – Daily active questions to evaluate how we are doing.  Being lectured on what we ought to do, does not make us do it.  Give us data – the answers to the daily questions. Change the Trigger -> Impulse -> Action -> Consequence cycle to a new habit of Trigger -> Impulse -> Awareness -> Choice -> Action -> Consequence. The author claims that if we follow the second path, we will have less regrets in life – and who wouldn’t want that?!