Triggers

By: Jim Bruce
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Marshall Goldsmith, one of the best known executive coaches in the U.S., has just published a new book, Triggers:  Creating Behavior That Lasts, Becoming the Person You want to Be.  One of the things that caught my eye in one of the book’s reviews that I read, was a practice Goldsmith has to bring significant discipline into his life.  He’s practiced it for years.  At the end of each day, he has a friend call him and ask the same 22 questions each day.  He doesn’t just answer each question, he also relates what he has done that day for each question on a scale from zero to ten.

Most of the questions start “Did I do my best today to…”  His list includes questions such as:

•   set clear goals?
•   preserve all client relationships?
•   be grateful for what I have?
•   exercise?
•   say or do something nice for Lyda (his spouse)?
•   learn something new?
•   avoid destructive comments about others?

And, the list evolves slowly over time to accommodate Goldsmith’s current priorities.

These questions are examples of what Goldsmith calls “triggers,” deliberately designed prompts to move you continuously, relentlessly, in the direction of productive, beneficial change.

If you were to create such a list of questions, what questions would be important for you to ask yourself?  Perhaps you’d take some questions from Goldsmith’s list.  You might also add questions, beginning with Goldsmith’s standard opening,  “Did I do my best today to…,” such as:

•   make progress on each of my priorities for the day?
•   provide time to meet the needs of my staff?
•   set clear expectations for each staff member?
•   provide clear feedback to staff, both acknowledging good work and addressing needs for improvement?
•   use the employee’s name when talking with her?
•   further the individual development of my staff?

What else would you include?  I’m sure that you can make a very good list tailored to your specific circumstances!

I’ve often suggested that you might take some time at the end of each day to review your day, evaluating how you did given your calendar for the day, and asking whether you accomplished that one thing that would “make your day.”

With today’s Tuesday Reading I want to step that up a bit.  Will you take some time and make your own list?  Think of the list as being a set of triggers to prompt you for those standard things that you should do each day – for your job, family, civic responsibilities, …  And, as something comes to mind write it down.  This will be the start of your list.  Then beginning today, take some time at the end of the day to walk down the list and ask yourself each question in turn.  And, be honest and give yourself a score between zero and ten.  Add to the list those additional things that come to mind, always working to keep the length of the list reasonable.

You might involve a friend in the process as Marshall Goldsmith did.  Perhaps, the two of you might ask each other your questions, thereby forming an accountability group to keep each other on track.

I promise you that if you do this each day, the items on the list will become parts of your regular routine and that you, your life, and your team will be the better for it.

Make it a great week!  .  .  .     jim

P.S.  Let me know what’s on your list and how it’s working for you.

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