by I.K. Mullins
Copyright©2015 I.K. Mullins. All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author.
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Goldsmith and Reiter’s Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts – Becoming the Person You Want to Be, opens with a story about a man who fell down a set of stairs in his house, hurting himself. Then, he realized that he did not know any of his neighbors, which made it difficult to ask for their help. One of his neighbors, a woman who lived a few houses away and who barely knew him, kindly agreed to drive him to a hospital and then waited for him in the hospital for a few hours. This experience inspired the man to become a friendlier person.
Goldsmith further discusses various fallacies that prevent us from trying to change ourselves. He points out that you have to be proactive in order to change your behavior permanently. You have to set clear goals for yourself and monitor your daily progress. Unfortunately, people seem to always look for an easy way to change their behavior. Goldsmith’s book deals with this subject and offers practical steps to make change happen. Goldsmith discusses the environmental and psychological triggers that can disrupt our lives. (Triggers are any stimulus capable of reshaping a person’s thoughts or actions.)
Goldsmith further advices on how we can change ourselves. He writes that his book is “about creating behavior that lasts and becoming the person you want to be.” Just like other books written by Goldsmith, this one is inspired by his experience of working as an executive coach (Goldsmith has worked with more than 150 major CEOs).
When it comes to behavioral changes, Goldsmith points out that the first thing you have to do is to decide what kind of person you want to become and develop awareness of the triggers that prevent you from becoming that person. According to Goldsmith, the best way to become aware of the triggers and our reactions to them is by keeping daily track of them.
You also have to develop a set of questions that you can ask yourself every day in order to monitor your progress. For example, Goldsmith recommends that you ask yourself every day if you did your best on that particular day to find meaning in your life, to be happy, to develop positive relationships, to be fully engaged with whatever happens in your life. Goldsmith encourages you to review the questions with a friend and write down your answers. Answering these questions will help you see if you are making any progress.
Goldsmith’s book comprises four parts. In Part One—“Why Don’t We Become the Person We Want to Be?”—Goldsmith explains why it is hard to achieve meaningful behavioral change. In order to successfully modify our behavior, we have to identify all the triggers that prevent us from changing. In addition to internal triggers that prevent change, we have to deal with external triggers that originate in our environment.
Goldsmith emphasizes the fact that people are typically great planners and yet substandard doers. He relies on the theory of Situational Leadership when he points out that each person has his her own inner leader and inner follower. (Paul Hersey and Kenneth H. Blanchard at the Center for Leadership Studies developed the theory of Situational Leadership in the late 1960s.)
The theory of Situational Leadership distinguishes four leadership styles: directing, coaching, supporting and delegating. The leader has to choose a leadership style in accordance with the readiness level of the people that the leader is trying to guide.
Goldsmith analyzes in his book how the inner leader plans a behavioral change and the inner follower executes that plan. People often begin the day feeling part leader and part follower. However, by the end of the day, the inner leader and the inner follower become gradually estranged. Goldsmith argues that when it comes to our own behavioral development, we have to be thoughtful when choosing a leadership style in order to succeed.
In Part Two of his book—“Try”—Goldsmith asserts that behavioral change requires self-awareness and self-monitoring. Various questions and lists can be used for a self-assessment. Goldsmith introduces the acronym of AIWATT, which stands for “Am I Willing, at this time?” It can be used to help us choose to either engage in behavioral change or just forget about it and let it go.
In Part Three of his book—“More Structure, Please”—Goldsmith explains that we need structure in order to achieve behavioral change. He offers various structures that may help us change ourselves successfully and achieve the change more efficiently.
In Part Four of his book—“No Regrets,”—Goldsmith reminds us that by prolonging our negative behavior patterns, we make ourselves and other people close to us feel miserable.