There’s No Shame in Asking for Help!

As the author of best-selling “self-help” books, you might be surprised to find that I wholeheartedly believe that if you want to improve your performance at almost anything, your odds of success improve considerably the moment you enlist someone else to help you!

Some of us practice this instinctively. We enlist a friend to join us for yoga class or commit to training for a marathon with a group. We enjoy the companionship and support, and knowing we’re answerable to someone else is motivating. The small obligation to someone else keeps us focused. And, the longer we stick with it and the nearer we get to the finish line, the closer the bond between the two of us. At some point, we reach a point where we don’t want to disappoint a friend or don’t want to be the first to give up. Pairing up provides us with a discipline that we cannot summon as readily working solo.

This “power of two” thinking works well for overt personal objectives, such as quitting smoking, losing weight, or athletic training, where we’re relying more on moral support rather than instructive coaching, to reach a clearly marked finish line.

However, enlisting someone else to help us isn’t our first impulse when we dive into a self-improvement campaign in our professional lives. Whether it’s upgrading the quality of our customer base, landing a big promotion, or executing a career U-turn, our initial impulse is to do it on our own. After all, it’s our goal, our effort, our accomplishment, and our payoff if we succeed. How can we share the burden—and glory—with someone else?

Part of why we don’t ask for help is ego. It’s the reason some people can’t ask for directions when they’re lost. We can’t admit that we need help. We can’t admit that someone else might know more than we do about how we can change for the better. We believe any achievement of ours is somehow diminished if we don’t do it entirely by ourselves. If there’s credit to be had, we want to do it ourselves.

And another big part of why we don’t ask for help is psychic self-preservation on our part; if we fall short of our goal, we want to contain the failure to a circle of one: ourselves. If no one knows what we’re striving for, then no one can criticize us for faltering. We don’t want to feel the shame of asking for help and not achieving our goal, so we don’t ask for help at all.

Shame of not being good enough, of not being “perfect” is a hugely discouraging trigger when it comes to asking for help and as a result many people just don’t do it at all. They don’t get better, they don’t change, and they don’t become the person they want to be. This is the ultimate hazard of not asking for help.

So, now it’s your turn. As you finish reading this blog, think about one thing, one behavior, one change you’d like to make. Who could you ask for help with this making this change? It could be a big change, it could be a small one. Now do it. Ask for help and commit to making the change. You’ll be glad you did!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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8 Things Successful Leaders Do

Being successful as a leader can be hard. As demands on leaders increase, there is less time to focus on making the changes you need to make to do the job successfully. It’s a significant challenge to overcome because as more is expected of you, you find you have less time for development, and yet, improving your leadership skills is more important than ever.

You have to learn on the job, make the most of your surroundings, and ask those around you for help. You have to enlist their support as you do your best to develop yourself, your people, and your teams. And, this is why I call leadership a “contact sport”.

Leadership Is a Contact Sport is a leadership development model that has worked for hundreds of thousands of people. The original study, published in 2004, included 86,000 people. We now have research from 250,000 people who confirm that this model works. It helps them become highly successful leaders.

How does it work? The Leadership Is a Contact Sport model is just eight steps: Ask, Listen, Think, Thank, Respond, Involve, Change, Follow Up. Following is a short description of each step.

  1. Ask: Ask people “How can I be a better _________ (manager, partner, team member, etc.)?
  2. Listen: Listen to their answers.
  3. Think: Think about their input. What does it mean?
  4. Thank: Thank people for sharing this valuable feedback with you.
  5. Respond: Respond positively when receiving input.
  6. Involve: Involve the people around you to support your change efforts.
  7. Change: Change isn’t an academic exercise. Act on what you learn.
  8. Follow-up: Follow up regularly and stakeholders will notice the positive actions you’re taking based their input.

In this week’s video blog, I go through the entire process and detail each of these steps to explain how this process works and how you can use it yourself. If you’d like to read about the process and the research, please send me an email at and I’ll send you the Leadership Is a Contact Sport article.

This simple model for leadership development works! If you want to get better, at work or at home, try it for yourself and see. And, if I can help you consider the possibility that despite all of your success to date you might have some things that you can change to be “even better”, then I will have done my job.

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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Do You Work for a Know-It-All?

You know, someone who tells you what to do, how to do it, and when to do it? Someone who seems to have all the answers – even when they’re not asked!

Don’t be surprised; you’re not alone. And, worse yet, not only do leaders often assume the know-it-all position, many of us work with people who think they know everything. It is epidemic.

This style of leadership is based on the old model of “authoritative leader” in which the leader plays the role of “boss” and tells employees what to do and how to do it. This type of leader is the historic norm. Leaders can even go so far as to think that if they don’t do this, they aren’t leading well.

Let’s take a closer look at this starting with one of my favorite Peter Drucker quotes. Peter provided an excellent perspective on the authoritative leader when he said, “While the leader of the past knew how to tell, the leader of the future will know how to ask.”

I’ve never seen anyone live these words to the degree that my friend Alan Mulally did. And, it was of great benefit of those around him. So great was that he was recently ranked as the third Greatest Leader in the World by Fortune magazine. Prior to that he was recognized as the Best CEO in America by CEO magazine.

Here is a little more history about Alan. After an incredibly successful career at Boeing, where he rose to the role of CEO of Boeing Commercial Aircraft, Alan became the CEO of Ford and helped the company achieve one of the most positive turnarounds in the history of corporate America. The amazing story of Ford is well documented in the book, American Icon. When he left Ford, Alan had a 97% approval rating from all employees.

How Did He Do It?

Let’s start with a little history about me: For over forty years I have been a student of leadership. I have a Ph.D. from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. I am the author of editor of 35 books. My written material or videos have been read or viewed over 25 million times. I served on the Advisory Board of the Peter Drucker Foundation for ten years. In 2011, I was ranked by Thinkers 50, in London, as the Most-Influential Leadership Thinker in the World. I have had the honor of coaching over 150 of the most important organizational leaders in the world. Needless to say, I know a little about leadership.

In my long career, I have never observed an approach to leadership that matches Alan’s. His style is as unlike authoritative leadership as any style I have ever seen. Alan’s leadership style is “leader as facilitator” rather than “leader as authority” or “leader as boss”.

It’s similar to my behavioral coaching process. The philosophy behind Stakeholder Centered Coaching is simple: You see, I believe that leaders can learn a lot more from their key stakeholders (who interact with them every day) than they can learn from any coach. My average client has 18 key stakeholders, who am I to assume that I know more than these 18 other executives? In my coaching I am a facilitator. I create a process where my clients reach out to their stakeholders, listen, and learn. I don’t get paid for spending time with my clients or for proving how smart I am. I do get paid when they achieve positive, lasting change in leadership behavior – as judged by their key stakeholders.

Alan’s process of leader as facilitator is like putting my coaching process on steroids!

The philosophy behind his leadership process is simple: Why should I – even though I may be the CEO – assume know that I know more than the thousands of leaders and professionals at the company?

Alan has each of his direct reports publicly discuss each of their five key priorities in the weekly Business Plan Review meeting. Rather than immediately leaping in to help the direct report who has a problem, he facilitates learning from everyone on the team. Rather than saying, “Here is how I can help you.” Alan asks, “Who are the best people at the company who can help?”

As a leader-facilitator, Alan Mulally is perfectly comfortable facilitating a meeting where great guidance is provided – even if none of the great guidance comes from him. He is not delusional enough to believe that he has all of the answers. He is facilitating a process of finding the answers.

To say the leader as facilitator process is different from the corporate norm would be an understatement, and I have never seen any CEO implement this process to the degree that Alan did at Ford.

The leader as facilitator style of leadership is something for you to think about. When it’s your turn to lead give it a try. You will be amazed at the results! And if you’re already leading, maybe it’s time to try it for yourself and see how it works! You will be glad you did.


Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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Do You Play Well With Others?

This is a great question. If you answer it honestly.

Your answer could lead to your success or demise as a leader. It could be the key factor in your personal and family relationships.

So, let’s ask it again. Do you play well with others?

Many of us may think “plays well with others” is a category for grading schoolchildren, not grown-ups like us. We tell ourselves, “I’m a successful, confident adult. I shouldn’t have to constantly monitor if I’m being nice of if people like me.”

We may hold ourselves blameless for any interpersonal friction; it’s always someone else’s fault, not ours. “The other guy needs to change. I shouldn’t have to. In fact, I don’t need to, it’s his fault!”

Or we’re so satisfied with how far our behavior has already taken us in life that we smugly reject any reason to change. In other words, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

When my good friend Alan Mulally became CEO of Ford, he set to work to create an environment where the executive team, notorious for not working together, could learn to play well with each other. Through Alan’s leadership, the focus of the team and ultimately the focus of the entire company became, “How can we help one another more?”

It worked. The company survived through incredibly difficult times, and returned to achieving great success again through working together. If Ford had been a schoolyard, and the executives school children, they would have gotten the highest of marks in “playing well with others.

How well does your team play together?

You can answer this question with your team by trying this simple four-step process, which I call “team building without time wasting.” The steps are:

  1. In a team meeting ask each team member to rate “How well are we doing?” vs. “How well do we need to be doing?” in terms of teamwork. Have each member do this on paper. Have one of the members calculate the scores — without identifying anyone. One a 1-10 scale — with 10 being the highest score — the average evaluation from over 1,000 teams is “We are a 5.8. We need to be an 8.7.”
  2. Assuming there is a gap between “we are” and “we need to be,” ask each team member to list two key behaviors that, if each other individual team member improved, could help close the gap and improve teamwork. Do not mention people — only behavior — such as listening better, clear goals, etc. Then list the behaviors on a flip chart and have the team pick the one that they believe will have the biggest impact.
  3. Have each team member conduct a three-minute, one-on-one meeting, with each of the other team members. (Do this while standing and rotate as members become available.) In these sessions each person should ask, “Please suggest one or two positive changes I can make individually to help our team work together more effectively.” Then have each person pick one behavior to focus on improving.
  4. Begin a regular monthly follow-up process in which each team member asks each other member for suggestions on how to continue their improvement based on their behavior the previous month. The conversations should focus on the specific areas identified for improvement individually as well as general suggestions for how to be better team members.

When asking for input the rules are that the person receiving the ideas cannot judge or critique the ideas. He must just listen and say “thank you.” The person giving the ideas must focus on the future — not the past.

This is a quick and easy process that helps teams improve and helps team members become better team players. Try it for yourself and see!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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Are You Stuck in a Rut? It’s Time to Adjust!

Our lives don’t occur in a vacuum. They are usually the result of unappreciated triggers in our environment—the people and situations that lure us into behaving in a manner diametrically opposed to the colleague, partner, parent, or friend we imagine ourselves to be.

These triggers are constant and relentless and omnipresent.

You might think that triggers would cause you to act in new and novel ways, expanding your horizons, making you more successful with each passing moment. Hardly!

Triggers initiate a simple formulaic response in us:

trigger-> impulse-> behavior

This is difficult enough, but add in the environment and unbeknownst to us, it is holding us in a rut even more by triggering old behaviors.

How do you recognize triggers?

Well, triggers come in many forms:

  • Habits
  • Smells
  • People
  • Sounds
  • Sights

Triggers can be external, or they can be internal. They can be daydreams; they can be thoughts.

What is true about all triggers is: the trigger happens, it sets off an impulse, you act.

By becoming aware of our typical triggers, we can change that sequence to:

trigger -> impulse -> awareness-> choice/adjust ->behavior

Adding awareness gives us a choice to adjust our behavior!

Once you’re aware of your triggers, you can arrange to avoid them. If you can’t avoid them, you can anticipate problems that might arise and learn how to recognize the triggers and adjust your behavior in the moment.

How do you become aware of your triggers?

The most effective way to become aware is through daily tracking. Ask yourself, “Who do I want to be?” (That’s the personal development question). Then, make up a set of questions you can ask yourself on a daily basis. They should be yes/no questions, or questions that can be answered with a number. For example, “How many times did I lose my temper at my assistant yesterday?” Every day, review the questions with a friend and write down the answers.

This simple act of tracking will keep the new you front-of-mind. This is the behavior modification part of the process. If you choose the questions to align with who you want to be, you won’t be able to fool yourself as to whether you’re making the changes you need to make to become the person you want to be.

Change, no matter how urgent and clear the need, is hard. Knowing what to do does not ensure that we will actually do it. Gaining awareness of the triggers in our lives gives us a chance to make the choice to adjust to triggers and create the changes we weren’t able to make before!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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One Vital Thing Successful People Do Differently

Most of us go through life unaware of how our environment shapes our behavior.

When we experience “road rage” on a crowded freeway, it’s not because we’re sociopathic monsters. It’s because the temporary condition of being behind the wheel in a car, surrounded by rude, impatient drivers, triggers a change in our otherwise jovial demeanor. We’ve unwittingly (and that is the key word) placed ourselves in an environment of impatience, competitiveness, and hostility – and it alters us.

What I’ve noticed about successful people, is that they are never completely oblivious to their environment. They do one very important thing differently: They anticipate and prepare for what is next, and, they do what they can to create the environment they want when they get there.

Take for instance trial attorneys – they don’t ask questions to which they don’t already know the answers! Their entire line of questioning is based on one thing: anticipation.

Another example, a public official chairing a town meeting about a divisive issue. The official anticipates that some comments will be said in anger, that the exchanges could become inflammatory and personally insulting. In a heated environment, she reminds herself to stay cool and be fair. She may even prepare some mollifying remarks.

The challenge for most of us is to anticipate our environment even in the minor moments when we’re not trying to be successful, when we’re not “on” or trying to achieve. Most of our day consists of these lesser moments. We’re not thinking about our behavior because we don’t associate the situation with any consequences – we think it’s not important enough to give it much thought.

These seemingly benign environments, ironically, are when we need to be most vigilant. When we’re not anticipating the environment, anything can happen!

For instance, after a long day at work, we get home. It’s a beautiful summer day with three hours of daylight left. We could take a walk, call a friend, cook a nice meal, catch up on bills, or finish the book we’ve been reading. Instead, we take the easy road, we grab a bag of pretzels and a soda, turn on the TV, and plop down on the sofa to mindlessly watch a rerun of something we’ve seen at least 20 times before.

Why didn’t we do what was good for us? Because we didn’t anticipate our environment and create a way to continue our successful day when we got home.

What could we have done to anticipate and create our environment? We could have called or texted a friend earlier in the day to meet us for dinner, we could have put our shoes by the door so we’d remember to take a walk when we got home, we could have placed our book on top of the remote as a reminder that we want to read. These things aren’t difficult to do before you get home after a long day, but in the moment, when we’re tired and depleted, they are practically impossible.

When I consider the behavioral edge that anticipation provides, my only question is: “Why would anyone say no to a little more anticipation?”

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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4 Things Successful Leaders Do to Empower Employees

As a manager or leader, do you let your people assume more responsibility when they are able? Do you know when that is, or do you keep telling yourself that they aren’t ready yet?

In my travels around the world, I talk with thousands of people every year who want to be treated as “partners” rather than as employees. They want information to flow up as well as down. But, oftentimes, leaders do not want to give up control.

I knew a CEO who was the leader of one of the world’s largest global organizations. He received feedback that he was too stubborn and opinionated. He learned that he needed to do a better job of letting others to make decisions and to focus less on being right himself. He practiced this simple technique for one year: before speaking, he would take a breath and ask himself, “Is it worth it?” He learned that 50% of the time his comments may have been right on, but they weren’t worth it. He quickly began focusing more on empowering others and letting them take ownership and commitment for decisions, and less on his own need to add value.

Your employees understand their jobs. They know their tasks, roles, and functions within the organization, and it’s time for you to let them do what they need to do to get the job done. But there is a critical point that is often missed: It isn’t possible for a leader to “empower” someone to be accountable and make good decisions. People have to empower themselves. Your role is to encourage and support the decision-making environment, and to give employees the tools and knowledge they need to make and act upon their own decisions. By doing this, you help your employees reach an empowered state.

The process does take longer — employees will only believe they are empowered when they are left alone to accomplish results over a period of time — but it’s effective and worth the time. If a company has a history of shutting down or letting go of initiators, for instance, the leader can’t just tell employees, “You are empowered to make decisions.”

Part of building an empowering environment is dependent on the leader’s ability to run interference on behalf of the team. The leader needs to make sure people are safe doing their jobs. To make sure this happens, an ongoing discussion of the needs, opportunities, tasks, obstacles, projects, what is working and what is not working is absolutely critical to the development and maintenance of a “safe” working environment. You are likely to spend a lot of time in dialogue with other leaders, employees, team members, and peers.

Following are four things successful leaders do to build environments that empower people.

  1. Give power to those who have demonstrated the capacity to handle the responsibility.
  2. Create a favorable environment in which people are encouraged to grow their skills.
  3. Don’t second-guess others’ decisions and ideas unless it’s absolutely necessary. This only undermines their confidence and keeps them from sharing future ideas with you.
  4. Give people discretion and autonomy over their tasks and resources.

Successful leaders and managers today are willing to exercise their leadership in such a way that their people are empowered to make decisions, share information, and try new things. Most employees (future leaders) see the value in finding empowerment and are willing to take on the responsibilities that come with it. If future leaders have the wisdom to learn from the experience of present leaders, and if present leaders have the wisdom to build an environment that empowers people, both will share in the benefits!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.


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Happy, Grumpy, Dopey, Sneezy: Which Dwarf Are You?

With these choices, I’ve found that most of us want to be Happy. In fact, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t.

But how does an adult achieve a high level of contentment while living a frenetic and distraction-packed life? How do we not be Grumpy?

It’s not easy.

You first have to figure out how you’re spending your time personally and professionally.

I measure this in two dimensions: short-term satisfaction and long-term benefit. Both have value. It can be just as disappointing to live our lives with no meaning or pleasure in the here and now as it can be unfulfilling to live without thought for tomorrow’s plans and goals.

Questions like, “Does this activity make me happy?” or “Do I find meaning in the activity itself?” can help gauge the degree of short-term satisfaction that we get from any activity. Questions like, “Are the results achieved from this activity worth my effort?” or “Is the successful completion of this activity going to have a long-term positive impact on my life?” can help gauge our expectations for potential long-term benefit from any activity.

The accompanying graph shows five different modes of behavior and how they can characterize our relationship to any activity—either at work or at home.

MOJO quadrants

  1. Stimulating activities score high in short-term satisfaction but low in long-term benefit. The use of drugs or alcohol, for instance, can provide short-term satisfaction yet be dysfunctional for long-term benefit. At work, gossiping with co-workers may be fun for a while, but it is probably not career- or business-enhancing. A life spent solely on stimulating activities could provide a lot of short-term pleasure but go nowhere.
  2. Sacrificing activities score low in short-term satisfaction but high in long-term benefit. For instance, dedicating your life to work that you hate because you “have to” to achieve a larger goal. Or working out (when you don’t feel like it) to improve your long-term health. A life spent solely on sacrificing activities would be the life of a martyr—lots of achievement, but not much joy.
  3. Surviving activities score low on short-term satisfaction and low on long-term benefit. These activities don’t cause much joy or satisfaction in the short-term, nor do they contribute to the future. We do these activities because we feel we have to and we do not have much to show for our efforts. A life spent solely on surviving activities is a hard one indeed.
  4. Sustaining activities produce moderate amounts of short-term satisfaction and lead to moderate long-term benefits. For many professionals, the daily answering of e-mails is a sustaining activity. It is moderately interesting (not thrilling) and usually produces moderate long-term but hardly life-changing benefit. At home, the day-to-day routine of shopping, cooking, and cleaning may be viewed as sustaining. A life spent solely on sustaining activities would be “okay”.
  5. Succeeding activities score high on short-term satisfaction and high on long-term benefit. These activities are the ones that we love to do and get great benefit from doing. At work, people who spend a lot of time in the succeeding box love what they are doing and believe that it is producing long-term benefit at the same time. At home, a parent may be spending hours with a child time that the parent greatly enjoys while valuing the long-term benefit that will come to the child. A life spent in succeeding is a life that is filled with both joy and accomplishment.

No one can define what short-term satisfaction or long-term benefit means for you but you.

Consider an immigrant who leaves a poor country and come to the U.S. She works 18 hours a day at two minimum-wage jobs, yet has a great attitude toward her work and saves every cent for her children’s education. She defines her life as mostly succeeding. It is filled with short-term happiness and long-term benefit.

At the other end of the professional scale, a CEO is resentful about her work because a drop in stock value means that she will have to work another couple of years to have the savings she thinks she needs in order to retire. She sees herself in the surviving category.

These two people have completely different perceptions of what an activity means to them.

My suggestion for you is simple. Spend a week tracking how you spend your time. At the end of the week calculate how many hours you spent on stimulating, sacrificing, surviving, sustaining, or succeeding. Then ask yourself what changes you can make to help you create a life that is both more satisfying in the short-term and more rewarding in the long-term.

While the activities that take up our time can be one factor in determining our happiness and achievement, our attitude toward these activities can be an equally important factor in determining the ultimate quality of our lives. If we cannot change our activities, we can at least try to change our attitude toward them and thus become who we’ve always wanted to be, Happy!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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Hooked on Media? Blame Your Monkey Mind!

Nearly 20 years ago, I wrote an article titled “Global Communications and Communities of Choice” for The Community of the Future, a book I co-edited with Frances Hesselbein, Richard Beckhard, and Richard Schubert. It’s turned out to be a very prophetic writing on a topic about which, in this case, I wish I’d been wrong.

In the article, I wrote “Today television addiction is one of the most underrated problems in the United States (with the average child spending thousands of hours watching ‘junk’ TV). In the future, media addiction (which includes TV, the internet, and video games) may well pass drug addiction and alcohol addiction, combined, as a social problem.” It’s happened, unfortunately, and the reason is because media is like amphetamines to the monkey mind.

Mindfulness Is the Solution to Overcoming the Monkey Mind

All of us have a “monkey mind”. It’s when your mind jumps from place to place with very little consciousness about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. When this happens, you are experiencing your monkey mind.

The solution to controlling the monkey mind syndrome is to remind yourself as often as you can to be aware of the triggers that are impacting your thoughts, feelings and ultimately, your behavior.  To the degree that you can, breathe and acknowledge when you feel an impulse from an internal or external trigger. Then ask yourself, “What is the trigger?” “How am I feeling at this moment?”  “What am I thinking”  “What am I doing?”  “Why am I doing this?”  This is called being mindful. What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is just the placement of awareness and reflection between the impulse that follows a trigger and the behavior that follows the impulse.

Like almost everything that I teach.  Mindfulness is not hard to understand.  It is just hard to do, even more so as we are continually being triggered by a barrage of outside influences, from emails, cell phones, tablets, On Demand TV, movies, games, and social media to name but a few bits and pieces of 21st Century monkey mind candy.

The impact of these triggers can be very difficult to anticipate or even to understand. When we experience a trigger, it may set off a chain reaction of seemingly random associated images from our past.  These associated images from our past may then lead to projected images for our future that may change our originally intended behavior – and derail our plan for the day.

Unless we really work at ‘connecting the dots’, we may be totally unaware of why we are doing what we are doing.   Our brief moments of mindfulness can easily vanish – and we won’t even know why.

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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Environmental Activist: A Review of “Triggers”


BOOK REVIEW: Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts by Marshall Goldsmith (Crown Business) 2015

One of the most haunting elements of existence is the struggle of not always being your best self.

We say we are going to work out more and don’t, we say that we are going to save more and won’t, we say that we will forgive more and can’t. Little wonder, then, that Leonardo da Vinci once wrote that “One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery over oneself.” As truthful as that is, knowing how to go about the quest of transformation is difficult.

Enter Marshall Goldsmith, whose specialty is teaching executives and average people alike how to tweak the environment immediately around them to become the kind of people they wish they were.

His book, Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts (available at your local library and bookstores) is a delight, a whimsical trip through the psychology of what has been known in distant corners of culture for a while now: that the environment that you surround yourself with is eminently important if you want to understand why you live the life you live.

One of the most startling concepts, early on in the book, is contained in a single question: How many personas do you adopt throughout your day? If your answer is more than one – e.g., if you find that you adopt the mindset of a CEO at work and then adopt the mindset of a parent when you’re dealing with your kids – then environmental cues are obviously powerful, and it makes good sense to pay attention to how they are subtly manipulating your behavior and responses.

The book is divided roughly into thirds, with sections on why we find it so difficult to change in the first place, what we need to do if we wish to live our best life now, and the importance of structure in the ongoing journey for improvement. While it is a relatively short read, there is a lot of content to be unpacked: this is a book to savor, not only for its depth of discovery, but also for the vibrancy and enthusiasm Mr. Goldsmith brings to the conversation.

In short, it is a deeply thoughtful yet entertaining guide on how to begin examining your life and what is more, change it in profound and unforgettable ways.

Zach Sumner is a student of UCO and works for the State of Oklahoma.



Marshall’s new book Triggers is available at or!
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