Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts Book Summary

Book Review, Personal Development and Lifestyle, Personal Development and Psychology, Personal Growth 1 Comment


Share this awesome post:

Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith

When setting goals for success, the true determinant of whether or not you achieve those goals will be the WORK you put in to get to where you want to be.

How will you do the work? How will you take bold action over time?

By structuring your life and establishing the proper behaviors, you can achieve any goal you want. How do you do this?

Enter Triggers, by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith.

How many of you have started a goal, a project, a relationship and it didn’t work out the way we envisioned it?

Maybe, you wanted to get an A on an exam. Possibly, you wanted to lose 10 pounds after holiday break. Maybe, you wanted a promotion at work. These are all reasonable goals, but sometimes they don’t work out as planned.

Sometimes we give up, fail, and decide “oh, it’s just something I can not do”.

With Triggers, you will learn how to structure your behaviors and life for success.

The rest of this post includes a summary of Triggers, takeaways from Triggers, and a reading recommendation for you.

What creates change?  On a macro-level it’s simple.  Nike got it right: “Just do it.”

Book Summary of Triggers

Triggers was an incredible book, and is formatted in a way to spur personal growth.

Triggers is presented in four sections:

  • Why don’t we become the person we want to be?
  • The importance of asking ourselves powerful questions
  • How to structure your life to improve marginally each day and establish behavioral change.
  • A discussion of the consequences in not changing negative behaviors will negatively impact your life

The author of Triggers, Dr. Goldsmith, received his PhD from UCLAs Anderson School of Business.

Dr. Goldsmith has helped successful leaders achieve positive lasting changing behavior for more then 35 years: with clients ranging from Alan Mulally (former CEO of Ford), David Allen (world leader in personal productivity) to Deanna Mulligan (CEO of Guardian Life, and Fortune 50s 2014 most powerful women in business).

Like everything, the key to anything is asking the right questions.

Let’s go over each of these sections in more detail below.

What is a Trigger?

What is a trigger?  

Goldsmith defines a trigger as “any stimulus that reshapes our thoughts and actions.”

These stimuli are practically infinite in number, and this definition spurs a number of thoughts and questions:

  • How do we avoid the bad ones? 
  • How do we repeat the good ones?
  • How do we make triggers work for us?

In Goldsmith’s experience as an executive coach, the key triggering mechanism in our lives is our environment.

“Our environment is a non-stop trigger mechanism whose impact on our behavior is too significant to be ignored.”

For example, think about the last time you got road-rage on a crowded highway, or the happiness you experienced during the celebration of a friend’s wedding.

Every small change has a profound impact on your environment.

By getting into the right environment, you can change your performance for the better.

How to Change Your Environment Triggers for Success

Triggers is all about changing your behavior for the better.

We cannot change our environment by changing others.  All we can do is change ourselves and have a positive impact in altering our own behavior.

Marshall lists a few “magic moves” that can significantly help our behavior. These are simple, but have a high impact:

  1. Apologizing is a magic move
    • It takes a cold person to fail to forgive someone who admits they were wrong.
  2. Asking for help is a magic move
    • few people will refuse a sincere request for help.
  3. Optimism
    • being positive inside yourself, and outward to others shows confidence that you believe everything will work out.  It’s a self fulfilling prophecy in the change process.

“Success in not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

Ask Active Questions to be More Successful

After adjusting your perspective and thoughts on your outlook on life, you can continue to grow as a person by doing one more “magic move”.

Asking active questions is the final “magic move.”

By asking active questions, you can get more clarity on your goals and life.

  • Are you doing your best to be happy?
  • Did you do your best to find meaning?
  • Are you doing your best to build positive relationships with people?
  • Did you do your best to be fully engaged?

These are questions are all very important for personal growth.

As you continue to adjust your behaviors, coming back to these questions will be good for understanding where you came from, where you are, and where you are going.

Personal growth is PERSONAL. It is your responsibility to be the change you want in the world.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – JFK

Takeaways from Triggers

With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.

Triggers is all about living intentionally, and taking personal responsibility of your actions and life.

The main takeaway from Triggers is each of us have the ability to change our behavior for the better. By adjusting our environment, by creating the right stimuli for success, and growing over time, anything is possible.

Rarely will your improvement and development be an overnight success. BUT, with consistent daily disciplines and efforts over time, you will be able to reach your goals and become the success you want and DESERVE.

The Mastermind Within Recommends Triggers

Triggers is a fantastic personal development book, and has many great tips and strategies for becoming better as a person.

If you aren’t quite happy with the person you currently are, then reading Triggers could help you get on the path to becoming the person you want to be.

You are responsible for your personal development and growth. No one else can be the change you want to be.


Triggers Book Review

About the Author

Hi! I'm Erik, the creator of The Mastermind Within blog.

I'm passionate about helping you improve as a person, get better with your finances, and create your dream life over time.

Through setting goals, critical thinking and intentional living and action, I believe you can master your life, win with money, and get on the path to freedom.

Get your free goals guide below, or browse through the 6 portal pages after the guide form.

Share this awesome post:

Comments 1

  1. Hi Henry,
    Thank you for posting your review. I’m going to add it to my list of potential reads this year and hopefully I can get to it.
    Currently my main trigger mechanism for improvement is a glare or kick from my girlfriend! 😉
    Best wishes,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.