Sunday, May 15, 2016

Triggers - Marshall Goldsmith

'Triggers' is a book recommended by Rajesh and he has a great eye for these books and a wonderful collection too - one that he shares generously. A life changing book for me that came from Rajesh's library has been 'Mindset' - a book whose ideas I use extensively. I read so many more - 'Pink', 'Good Strategy, Bad Strategy', 'Bob Woolmer's Coaching manual', Nadal's biography and so many more that I cannot even remember now. In fact I remember reading a collection of his books one whole week in Bangalore a few years ago and it has all helped me immensely.

Marshall Goldsmith is a man who is well known in business circles across the world and one who knows what he is talking about. So when he says - 'Feedback, giving and taking, is the first step to becoming smarter, it makes us more mindful about our becoming aware of our environment and behavior' - one needs to take feedback seriously. I did read his earlier bestseller and own it - 'What Got You here Won't Get You There' and 'Mojo'.

Goldsmith throws the question at the reader early - why don't we become the person we want to be. We have great intentions but we never do the acts that need us to get there. He cites some of the immutable truths of behavior change starting with the most obvious - behavioral change is hard. Then comes the others - no one can change you but yourself,

Goldsmith's key focus is on the one of two behavioral triggers we all have that stop behavioral change. He says our inner beliefs trigger failure before it happens. They sabotage lasting change by cancelling belief.
Some beliefs he throws at are that - If I understand it, I will do it (does not happen), I have will power (temptation always wins), today is a special day (and one of the many excuses), at least I am better than etc etc.

It's the Environment
Marshall Goldsmith says that the environment affects us in ways we do not imagine. We underestimate its effect on us. You cannot do things in isolation surrounded by people and things that influence your behavior. Even more difficult is the fact that we are dealing with a dynamic environment. To help us to keep our behavior on track he advocates keeping a track on our behaviors when they go awry. A behavioral trigger he says, is any stimulus that impacts our behavior. Behavioral triggers can be direct-indirect, internal-external, conscious-unconscious, encouraging-discouraging, productive and counter productive. More importantly, behavioral triggers are under control in the big moments - its in the smaller moments that we lose it.

Goldsmith says that we always have a choice. The key is to be aware of the trigger. He cites the 'Power of Habit' and the way it advocates a change in routine to achieve the same outcome - change in behavior basically.

The feedback loop given by Marshall is a variation of the UCLA template / Blanchard's ABC - which is Activator, Behavior and Consequence. Marshall looks at it from the aspect of a motorist speeding and fits it into the behavior pattern of Evidence, Relevance, Consequence and Action.
Evidence (data of speed on speeding car), Relevance (current speed versus posted speed), Consequence (of penalty or accident), Action (change in behavior). In fact Marshall's loop stops at behavior. The book itself is about behavioral triggers that mess up stuff big time for us - we all have one or two. Now if we can figure out a way to keep those triggers under control, much can be managed peacefully.

In a matrix of encouraging-discouraging and productive-counter productive environments, Marshall says, look to be on the side of encouraging and productive. This is similar to what we want versus what we need. Productive is what we need and encouraging is what we want.

I liked this exercise:
1) Pick a behavioral trigger you have. A goal you are pursuing in terms of behavioral change.
(Mine is someone asking me needless questions. that I do not know answers to, and do not want to commit to).

2) List people and situations that influence your performance (one or two triggers, define them) - Use Index cards etc to stop from pulling the triggers and inflicting suicidal situations on yourself.

3) Chart triggers if you're on the right side

Follow this - Trigger-(Recognise trigger, hold back your reaction a split second) Impulse-Awareness-Choice-(Considered) Behavior

Situational Leadership
Marshall gives a peep into Situational Leadership. This is about varying leadership styles to fit the need of the situation. In this form of leadership, leaders
- keep track of shifting lack of readiness among followers
- stay tuned to each situation
- acknowledge that situations change constantly
- fine tune leadership style to fit readiness of followers

The four leadership styles in situational leadership are
- Directing (no skill, no confidence)
- Coaching (some skill, low confidence)
- Supporting (skill, low confidence)
- Delegating (has enough to go on his own)
I like this.

Leader and Follower Within
Marhsall says there are both the leader and follower in us - the planner and the doer. Marshall says everyone has these two roles - and most times we don't follow our own leader's plans. (So why do we get upset with our team when they do not follow our plans?) Understand that the follower in you cannot execute all your plans. Understand that we are superior planners and inferior doers.

I loved the judgment exercise he did at a dinner table with his top clients, high ranking CEOs. Before dinner he tells everyone there is a financial penalty for every judgment they make while talking. They raised a seriously large sum. One gentleman had to go to the ATM to get some extra money. That's how judgmental we are!

Forecasting environment
Use the Anticipate, Avoid and Adjust principles.

When our performance has clear and immediate consequence we rise to the occasion. We create our environment. But we must watch for the minor moments that we may fail to anticipate. They will suck you down.

Temptation. Its easy to walk away from harmful stuff but enjoyable stuff is more difficult to walk away from. Don't test yourself against temptation. Don't always engage, be selective. To avoid undesirable behavior, avoid environments where its most likely to occur.

It's the end product of forecasting, It happens when there is despearton to change, or there is an unexpected insight or have been shown the way by another person.

Changing behavior is hard. Excuses. Rationalisation. We fail at what we want to be.

Wheel of change
Creating - Positive elements we want to create in future. Inappropitae behavior comes in one or two areas that color the rest. The impulse to imagine a different way.
Preserving - Positive elements we want to keep. Valuable behaviors must be preserved.
Eliminating - Negative elements we want to eliminate. The challenge is in eliminating what is enjoyable. Eliminate what's stagnating you. Behaviors.
Accepting - Negative elements we need to accept in future. Non acceptance triggers more bad behaviors.

Tune in to what you want to hear. Tune out of what you don't want to hear.

Power of Active Questioning
Marshall's 4 Magic Moves - Apologising, Asking for Help, Optimism, Asking active questions

Active questions normally put you on a relative scale of engagement - did you do your best to complete the work?

The 4 levels of engagement - positive, active, negative and passive. 1 and 2 combines to form committed approach, 2 and 3 to form hostile, 3 and 4 to form cynical and 4 and 5 to form professional.

Active questions focus on what the individual can control.

List of Active Qs to ask oneself everyday (scale of 10)
Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
Did I o my best to make progress towards my goals today?
Dd I do my best to find meaning today?
Did I do my best to be happy?
Did I do my best to build the positive relationships today?
Did I do my best to be fuly engaged today?

Daily Qs reinforrce our commitment
- ignite a motivation where we need it
- highlight differences between self discipline and self control
- shrink goals into manageable increments

Understand that change doesn't happen overnight. Success is the sum of small efforts day in and day out. If we make the effort we'll get better, faster. Eventually we become our own coach.

Honestly assessing the interplay between the environment and ourselves is how we become the person we want to be. Awareness and engagement helps.

Look for the lasting change in behavior that's most important to you.

A Question to ask when in doubt.
AIWATT - Am I Willing At this Time To make a positive difference in this Topic?
Ask yourself before you engage. When you engage, engage fully.

Remember the empty boat story - use it as a delaying mechanism between trigger and behavior.

Importance of structure
Alan Mullally's BPR exercise
- Attendance was maandatory (video conferencing for travelers)
- No side discussions, no jokes at others expense
- no interrupting, no cell plones
- no subs
- each one had to help the other in the room

Review - Plan, Stats, Forecast, Areas of attention
How can we help each other more?

Questions to ask on Structure
Where are we going?
Where are you going?
What's going well?
What can we improve?
How can I help you?
How can you help me?

Marshall warns of ego depletion and asks one to be aware of it.

Imagine You Will be Tested Every Key Moment
Marhsall says that we need help when we're least likely to get it. Imagine a test every key moment. Did I do my best to be happy, to find meaning, to build relationships, to be fully engaged.

Infact by committing to asking hourly questions we improve - pre awareness, commitment, awareness, scoring, perception.

Marhshall says that good enough is not good enough. We accept less because of marginal motivation (not enough skill), pro bono , behaving like an amateur at other places.

Marhsall advocates Becoming the Trigger
Meeting the issue not 50% but 100%.
"If I change my behavior, I change people around me."
It's nothing but taking 100% responsibility for the situation.

Ask yourself this question - what's the most memorable behavioral change you have made in your adult life?

Marshall triggers many questions worth pondering. Its the one or two triggers that hold us back. Can we bedn them our way with some discipline? He gives us ways. To delay the reaction to the impulse by identifying triggers, changing the routine perhaps, by keeping track of our behaviors through daiy questions, by being constantly aware that we are being tested. One needs desperation to do that. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Even behavioral changes! But if we can get around the trigger or two, there might be something different - maybe a pot of gold or the rainbow itself.

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