Changing How We Change

We can’t change until we know what to change.

Marshall Goldsmith – Triggers  

For some change is frightening for others exhilarating and for many a combination of both. However, we all experience it and we all want the change in ourselves to be for the better.

A long held belief was that self-transformation sprung out of mental and emotional changes in our control, and if we failed it must be due to a lack of willpower.


New studies show that such thinking is not only false, but harmful, and one of the people leading the charge in a new direction is the world’s most prominent executive coach and business guru Marshall Goldsmith.

We think we are in sync with our environment, but actually it’s at war with us.


For most, we never think that our environment can effect change within but as Dr. Goldsmith points out, our reactions do not occur in a vacuum. They usually are the results of triggers in our environment. From the people we deal with, to the situations that surround us, our thoughts and actions are affected by all and everything.

We also have a deep held belief that we first must change how we feel and think before we can change what we do and how we act. We often forget that our bodies literally have a mind of their own and we must become aware that they give us signals that affect our consciousness. In fact, letting the body lead the way can create positive changes in our mind.


When our emotions are spiraling in a negative direction, our bodies can right the ship. Wherever our minds are taking us our actions do not need to follow. We can let even the most disturbing thoughts play out in the background while we place physical actions in the foreground. There is no doubt that this is a difficult thing to do but it is a practice we must begin to adapt because it can help reset our emotional state.

As the great singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen writes:

Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.


In my own experience with change the difficulty does not come so much from not knowing what to do, but taking that knowledge and acting correctly upon it.

Even if we cannot control all within our environment we can have power over our actions and in turn create the behavior we want to achieve. And, if we do not truly absorb that internally, as Marshall says: “The Inner beliefs trigger failure before it happens.”

Businessman Touching Domino Pieces Arranged in a Line

My conversation with Marshall about his latest book Triggers, which airs this week on most of our PBS stations, is all about finding the “je ne sais quoi” – that uncertain quality that cannot be easily described or even named, but that we know exists. And, once we ascertain what it is, we give ourselves a fighting chance to control the inner belief before it triggers failure.

As always, it is easy to talk about but difficult to achieve. However, with continuous efforts, at least we can begin to recognize when we fall short and that knowledge alone is enough to spur us on.

Enjoy the show and keep on keeping on,





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