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  • Jennie Antolak

Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith

How often do you find clients or employees exchanging personal responsibility for the responsibility of others, limiting outcomes and increasing frustrations? @Kim Keprios examines this issue and more through her review of the book Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith. In her synopsis of Marshall's book, Kim identifies the key points, how to apply accountability and coaching. She highlights Marshall's approach to examining habits, the "triggers" that stop people in their tracks, and how to expand client's awareness so, rather than surrendering to the situation, they recognize how to move beyond it.

Book Review by Kim Keprios, Certified Life Coach Practitioner

Book Title: Triggers

Author: Marshall Goldsmith


Key Points:


Why don’t we become the person we want to be?

· Meaningful behavior change is hard to do

· People often can’t or don’t want to admit change is needed

· The power of inertia over us is underestimated

· Often people are better planners than doers

· No one else can make us change


Belief and Environment Triggers Impede Change

· When it’s our turn to change how we behave we revert to a set of beliefs that trigger denial, resistance and self-delusion

· Excuses explain why we fell short of expectations after the fact, while our inner beliefs trigger failure before it happens, cancelling the chance for lasting change

· Samples: I have willpower and won’t give in to temptation; Today is a special day (so I will go off my diet!); At least I am better than…fill in the blank; I have all the time in the world; My elimination of old problems will not bring on new problems; My efforts will be fairly rewarded…equals resentment; with environment we don’t appreciate how it influences our sleep, e.g. bedtime procrastination and then sleep deprived and triggers vulnerable; retail experiences engineered to maximize consumers desire to buy


The Wheel of Change includes:

· Creating and preserving are the positive elements we want to keep for the future

· Eliminating and Accepting are the negative elements we want to eliminate and accept in the future

· These four elements are all choices and equally important


The Power of Active Questions, Engaging Questions, Daily and Hourly Questions

· Magic moves—apologizing, asking for help and optimism—behavioral change efforts that keep it moving forward

· Did I do my best to….? helps face the reality of our behavior and our level of effort

· Daily questions help us focus on one day at a time and the objectives are more manageable in daily increments

· A coach instills accountability in the process of change efforts and eventually we become our own coach


Application to Coaching:

The concept of triggers has clear applications to Life Coaching. People typically come into coaching seeking some kind of change and clarity of purpose in their life. Triggers are part of our DNA in many ways.


Our inner beliefs and the environmental influences tap vulnerable triggers to behavior that does not always serve us well, can be hurtful to ourselves and others and keeps us stuck. With coaching, clients who are open to being awake to what’s going on around them and how they are responding, increasing their awareness and engagement, they are better positioned to appreciate their triggers and clarity of their choices with their behavior.


Favorite Passage:

My favorite passage from the book is in the chapter on Hourly Questions, page 194-195. “When we know we’ll be tested, even if it’s just pretending, we are forcing ourselves to live in the present. We’re alert, aware, and mindful of our behavior and everyone else’s, because we sense that in the very immediate future we will have to account for our actions. The present is the ideal place to be. This is where we shape ourselves into a better person. We can’t do it in the past; that’s gone. We can’t do it in a future that exists only in our minds, where the people who matter have yet to arrive. We can only do it in the moment”. I love this passage because it is the “day at a time, in the moment” philosophy and practice that is an important component in the Learning Journeys principles for coaching and the CWB and in my personal life. In the moment is where life happens and there are rewards to be fully present, even and perhaps especially in difficult situations. This mindfulness can bring more peace amidst challenges.


Application Within Your Coaching:

Within my coaching practice it is critical first for me to be aware of my triggers and how to manage and make healthy choices in the moment. With clients there are helpful tools that I pursue if the client is open to trying them: Overwhelm vs Commitment; Expanding Awareness; Identifying Fears to Release Them; and Stages of Change. Each of these offer different ways to identify their emotions, triggers and how to make choices that move them to more positive and effective change.



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