Book Club: Triggers: Sparking positive change and making it last – Marshall Goldsmith  – LifeCheq

Book Club: Triggers: Sparking positive change and making it last – Marshall Goldsmith 

By: Nobhongo Gxolo

“This is a book about adult behavioural change,” writes Dr Marshall Goldsmith who has been recognised as one of the Top Ten Business Thinkers in the world.

With a PhD in Organisational Behaviour Studies, Goldsmith is a pioneer of 360-degree feedback as a leadership development tool. His early efforts in providing feedback and then following-up with executives to measure changes in behaviour were precursors to what eventually evolved as the field of executive coaching. With nearly 40 years of hands-on experience, he is the leading expert on leadership and coaching for behavioural change.

In Triggers, he tackles how they impact behaviour change while shining a light on why most humans are so bad at this. He offers practical insights on how to get better at behaviour change. And shares anecdotes to help us navigate how to choose what to change and “strengthen our resolve to wrestle with the timeless, omnipresent challenge any successful person must stare down - becoming the person we want to be.”

Goldsmith doesn’t take lightly the mammoth and cumbersome effort to catalyse and sustain change. He writes: “It’s hard to initiate behavioural change, even harder to stay the course, hardest of all to make the change stick. I’d go so far as to say that adult behavioural change is the most difficult thing for sentient human beings to accomplish. If you think I’m overstating this difficulty, answer these questions:

1. What do you want to change in your life?
2. How long has this been going on?
3. How’s that working out?...

The three questions conform to the three problems we face in introducing change into our lives.
1. We can’t admit that we need to change
2. We do not appreciate inertia’s power over us
3. We don’t know how to execute a change.”

LifeCheq Book Club - In session

The fourth instalment of the LifeCheq Book Club 2022 was held on the 15th of August. Sessions are co-hosted by Communications practitioner and co-founder and curator of the award-winning food club, Third Culture Experiment, Nobhongo Gxolo, and LifeCheq’s Head of Business Development, Grant Appel.

The conversation with clients moved into the territory of the impact of environment on our behaviour, something which is sometimes forgotten. A client spoke to this awareness, saying: “two changes [reading and changing location] impacted my networks and business opportunities. When I started seriously indulging in reading… personal development books, unbeknown to me the world around me started aligning to the newfound knowledge I was acquiring. People started noticing slight changes in my language and behaviour that I wasn’t noticing.

“That led me to have the courage to start new behaviours that I was getting exposed to through those books. Changing my location also won me a number of opportunities. One book was saying: ‘You’re not a tree, you’re not planted, you can move if opportunities aren’t in your location.’ So I moved and started meeting new people who wouldn’t have been in my eco-chamber. Which also meant being exposed to different ideas and ideologies. I started getting opportunities in places I wouldn’t have ordinarily ventured into,” they added.

While another guest spoke about the importance of recognising the perspectives, beliefs and narratives we hold about certain parts of our lives: “A big change for me was in 2016, around the same time I joined Lifecheq. I was broke. The first session I attended, Abu [Addae, CEO] was speaking - and a few years later I’m not broke anymore. This is one of the reasons that… I’ll always come back to Lifecheq, because it was there at a very critical moment in my life. Some of the things I heard on that day and in sessions thereafter, the books we’ve read, the networks we’ve leveraged, helped me change so many behaviours.

“One of which was finance… it’s not necessarily useful to have money if you don’t have the knowledge or behaviour that’ll help you use that money correctly. I needed to change how I think about money and how I look at it in relationship to business and the world. I had to read a lot of books, including [a recent book club read, The Psychology of Money - by Morgan Housel.] Looking at how I used to spend money vs it now works for me to an extent .”

Wrapping it up
One of the practical tools Goldsmith submits is the use of ‘Engaging questions’ as a mechanism to help take ownership of mistakes and poor-decision, rather than making it a function of environment. He highlights the difference between Passive and Active questions:

Passive: How happy were you today vs the Active: Did you do your best to be happy?
Passive: How meaningful was your day vs the Active: Did you do your best to find meaning?

Triggers is a useful handbook, keeping us in check and accountable. Although it takes time to deep-dive into the impact of our environment on our behaviour it also doesn’t let us off the hook. Instead, with a balance of care, a recognition of our humanity, and some humour - Goldsmith accompanies the reader on this incredibly difficult journey of attempting sustainable behaviour change.

Watch the LifeCheq Book Club conversation on Triggers: Sparking positive change and making it last - Marshall Goldsmith, for more impressions from Lifecheq clients: 

We’ll see you on Monday the 17th of October for our next session on Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Amelia and Emily Nagoski.

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