Triggers:  Behavior Changes in the Workplace

As executive coaches, we help your company create lasting behavior change.  What is one thing you’d like to change about your own behavior, to get results at work?  What is one thing you’d like to change personally, maybe at home?

We recently read the book Triggers, by Marshall Goldsmith.  And in the first part of the book, he talks about his journey.  And since he’s an executive coach, and so are we, if we were to write a book (which we are planning to do), this book would be very similar to our experiences.   One thing Marshall says is:  People have to want to change. 

If you become a client of ours, we will ask you three questions as a screening tool; as a qualifier.  These three questions are:

  • Are you willing to change?
  • Do you want to grow and learn?
  • Will you do what you say you’re going to do?  Will you follow through?

If you’re a business owner and you’re hiring for your team, you should be asking these very same questions during interviews.  If you’re reading this, you are in a growth mindset, so you want to surround yourself with like-minded people.  Companies need to ask questions before they hire, to avoid having to get rid of those who are not willing to change.  

Recently we were speaking to a client who has an employee who doesn’t want to change.  That employee doesn’t want to change to the new policies or grow in any way. If you’re a company who’s growing at 10% a year (and most of our clients are growing at 20-30%), how can you have employees who don’t want to change?  Ideally, it will slow the company down.  After we do a team alignment, if that employee doesn’t change, then the company will have to cut the anchor.  

Someone without a growth mindset will say:

  • I tend to be late all the time, that’s just who I am.”
  • I’m from this generation and that’s just how I do things.”
  • I’m not very good at technology, that’s just who I am.”

These kinds of phrases are from people who don’t grow.  A person with a growth mindset says:  You know, I am a baby boomer and I haven’t been great at technology, but I’m willing to try and do my best.”  It all starts with making an effort!

So what is a trigger?  a stimulus that reshapes our thoughts and actions.  Something that will cause you to do something differently or change a habit.  Something that creates emotion.

In the book, Marshall tells a story about a man who had fallen down stairs and hurt his head on the concrete.  He got in touch with a neighbor who he’s never really talked to before.  That neighbor helped him and spent a lot of time with him that day.  The man who fell realized he didn’t have many close friends to rely on, so this event became a trigger for him to change.

Levels of high dissatisfaction, or a significant emotional event, will change the status quo.  It will push you out of your comfort zone, but when you get out of it, that’s when you grow as a person. You’re going to either move forward or backwards. Moving forward creates a personal change.

Marshall also talks about looking back on your life and realizing you may have regrets. Often it’s a relationship regret. Marshall says not to dwell on it, but embrace it, look at it.  Maybe you’ll find a few things to work on over the next year and make necessary changes.  Take a moment to look at your regrets. Start there! Don’t be afraid of them. What can you learn from those regrets?  Can you create triggers from them?

Here are some truths Marshall talks about in his book:


  • Meaningful behavior change is very hard to do. You have to face it and embrace it.  It will be tough. Allow yourself the time to be successful. Some habits have developed over months and years, so it will take time to change them.
  • No one can make a change unless we truly want to change.  

Look at the regrets and then look at the above truths.  Remember, even the most motivated people on average fail 6 times before succeeding.  

Peg has a special word she uses, and it’s called:  Reelerinners
When we decide to change and grow, we’re expanding our comfort zone.  When we expand our comfort zone, we are impacting the people around us.  Because we are changing, those people are forced to change.  All of a sudden, things are different for them.  Those who don’t want to change will try and reel you back into their comfort zone with phrases like:

  • “Why are you having a salad for lunch?”
  • “What’s wrong with you, why are you doing that?”
  • “This isn’t fun.”

If they are not going to support you, they are going to drag you down (like an anchor).  You can take a long time to pull the anchor up, or cut it. What is the impact that anchor is having in your life?

We go in front of teams and companies and give our presentation to help make changes.  And we are often asked, “Are people who are coached showing weakness?”  We respond by explaining that every one of our clients is the top/best in their industry.  They are actually saying they’re strong and they’re going to get stronger.

If you want to schedule a coaching session with Peg or Pete, contact them at 614-306-7922 or contact them via email at or

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Peg, Pete, Michelle
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