Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith & Mark Reiter – book recommendation

Like many books I read, I found Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith & Mark Reiter sitting on my bookshelf. You know, in that ever-growing books-to-be-read pile. I have a bit of a book habit and I obviously bought it a while back. I can’t remember quite when, it must have either been a recommendation from someone or by Amazon!

I’d read other things by Marshall Goldsmith (including What Got You Here, Won’t Get you There) and enjoyed them, so my expectations were reasonably high.

Like much of his writing, this one is about change, specifically driving your own lasting behavioral change.


Triggers summary

Triggers take you on a logical journey. It starts with an honest look at why we’re not currently the person we’d like to be, including why behavioral change is hard, and how things frequently get in the way, such as our environment and ourselves.

The second section looks at practical ways to make changes to behaviors including his 6 Engaging Questions and AIWATT.

The third section looks at the importance of structure and points out that many of us could benefit from more structure to help us bring about change in the most effective and efficient way possible.

Finally, he finishes with some success stories and brings everything together under the Circle of Engagement, in which we are leveraging and benefiting from the environment and the situation in order to create the change we desire.

Key elements of Triggers

We Want It Vs We Need It matrix – Chapter 4 – Identifying our triggers

The Wheel of Change – Chapter 8

6 Engaging Questions – Chapter 10

AIWATT – Chapter 13

The Circle of Engagement – Chapter 21

Memorable points in Triggers that resonated with me

Truth 1 – meaningful behavioral change is very hard to do

Truth 2 – no one can make us change unless we really want to

“We are superior planners and inferior doers…there’s the leader/planner/manager who plans to change his ways and the follower/doer/employee who must execute the plan”

6 Engaging Questions

  1. Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
  2. Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?
  3. Did I do my best to find meaning today?
  4. Did I do my best to be happy today?
  5. Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
  6. Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?

Using the questions daily reminds us that:

  • Change doesn’t happy overnight
  • Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out
  • If we make the effort, we will get better. If we don’t we won’t


Am I willing

At this time

To make the investment required

To make a positive difference

On this topic?

We do not get better without structure. Imposing structure on parts of our day is how we seize control of our otherwise unruly environment. Successful people know this intuitively, especially when it comes to their professional behavior.

Yet we often discount this when it comes to interpersonal behavior.

But it has to be the right structure

Structure not only increases our chance of success when making changes, it actually makes us more efficient at it.

Why accepting ‘good enough’ could be impacting our ability to create meaningful change.

The Circle of Engagement – Trigger – Impulse – Awareness – Choice – Reaction – Trigger etc.

My evaluation of Triggers

It took me a little while to get into the book. I’m not sure if this was because it was in print form rather than an audiobook or whether it initially seemed less interesting than another book I started in parallel. However, once I got a few chapters in I was definitely hooked. I could easily follow what he was saying and relate it to examples within my own life, past and present.

There are some great tools that he uses to explain the theory as well as help to actually implement the changes in practice.

I’m already keen to try out the Daily Questions on myself as well as using greater structure to help bring about changes I’m trying to make.

Having read through Triggers cover to cover, I’ll definitely read it again – either throughout or dipping into the relevant parts. I highly recommend it to anyone serious about making some lasting changes.

Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter

If you need support in any of these ways or more, Blue Diamond can help you to take control of your working life.