Are You Unhappy at Work? Change Your Default!


By Marshall Goldsmith

At this meeting there were many great HR leaders presenting. During the presentations, I had an epiphany: every single one of them focused on what the company could do to engage the employees – not one of them focused on what the employees could do to engage themselves. They were missing half of the equation!

The problem with this focus is that as a person working for the company, I am reinforced into believing that the company should be making my life better. As a result, I don’t make the effort to change my life, my behavior, or my situation. I get stuck in the rut of thinking, ‘If only it would change, my life would be better.’ And, while it may get better for a short time with a new program or higher pay, in the long term when the novelty of it wears off, I go back to my default – dissatisfied and unhappy. Unfortunately, this becomes an endless cycle that I am destined to repeat until I examine my half of the equation.

Marshall Goldsmith Meme

So, with that as our foundation, let’s get started learning more about the concepts behind the writing of Triggers! I am so excited to share this new material with you, because it will help you become the person you want to be.


Over the past few months, I’ve been asked many questions by people interested in the book. I’ve distilled these down into a few general questions and these will be the focus of my next few blogs. I hope you enjoy them and find them helpful!

What does the title “Triggers” mean to me?

Triggers came to me because in my coaching I realized the following:

My first inclination as a coach was to think that people would get better because of me, because I was a good coach. I gave them clever advice. Why not? Then I realized that the key variable wasn’t me. It was the person I was coaching. Some people got a lot better with my coaching, some didn’t. I’d used the same process, not done anything differently, why was this?

As I got further into coaching, I realized that the key variable wasn’t just the person, and it wasn’t just me. It was also the environment the person lived in. It had a lot to do with how the environment influences us.

Take as an extreme negative example, a drug addict. They go to rehab. They clean up. Things are looking good. When you put them back in that same environment with the same Triggers that pushed them in the wrong direction in the first place, the chances are very high that they’ll go back in the wrong direction again.

Because of this insight, today I focus a lot on Triggers in the environment in my coaching engagements and how these Triggers can change our behaviors, often in ways we do not want.

Marshall Goldsmith Meme

What are some of your other books?

I’ve written and edited 34 books, which have sold about two million copies.

I have two mega-best sellers. One of them is called What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. It has had fantastic success. It was the Harold Longman Winner for Business Book of the Year, has been translated into 30 languages, and is a bestseller in 12 countries.

The other mega-seller, Mojo, is also a New York Times best seller and has been translated into about 20 languages. I wrote both of these books with my partner Mark Reiter, who is also my co-author on Triggers.

Why did you choose the subject matter in “Triggers”?

I wanted to write Triggers because it’s different.

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There is about inter-personal relationships, leadership behavior, and how to develop relationships with people. Mojo is much more of an intra-personal perspective on the world as I see it. Its focus is how I look at myself and how I find meaning and happiness by looking at myself internally.

Triggers is about how the environment influences us and how we can become the person we want to be in spite of and even because of its affect. It takes as its foundation my philosophies on relationships between people and the importance of gaining perspective about myself. It marries these with how the world out there influences me and how I influence the world out there, so that I can become the person I want to be.

Marshall Goldsmith Meme