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Triggers: Full Series Part 1

Triggers can be positive and negative. Learn all about triggers and simple tools to manage them in this series of blogs.

Dear Followers: I’m excited that my new book Triggers is finally published! Order it now at or! Life Is Good. — Marshall

I love my job! The only tough part of my profession is that I travel constantly. On American Airlines alone, I have over 11 million frequent flyer miles!

Have you ever seen the movie Up in the Air, starring George Clooney? If you have, you will know what this means – I have the card!

Not only do I travel in the United States, I travel around the world. I have over 1 million flyer miles on British Airways. You know you travel a lot when you have over 1 million frequent flyer miles on an airline from country that you don’t even live in!

If you travel as much as I do, you cannot let the day-to-day tribulations of life on the road get on your nerves. If you do, you will quickly go crazy!

The airplane is a fascinating place to watch people become agitated, upset, and angry in a manner that is completely useless – over environmental factors they cannot impact.

I’ve learned a few simple lessons in my travels. For example, I cannot make the plane take off and I cannot make the plane land. I have almost no control over anything that happens.

One environmental trigger that makes a lot of people crazy is the announcement that the airplane is going to be late. I’ve seen so many people upset themselves, get angry, yell at flight attendants, and act like fools because the plane is late.

I have found simple way to turn this negative trigger, the announcement that the plane will be late, into positive trigger.

Every time I hear the announcement that the plane will be late, I remember a picture in my library – a picture of me on a volunteer trip to Africa with the Red Cross when I was about 30 years old. The picture shows me with many starving children. Their arms are being measured. If their arms are too big they do not eat. If their arms are too small they don’t eat. Their arms have to be just the right size – meaning they are not too hungry to survive and not too well fed so as not to need food – their arms size determines if they will eat that day.

This was an eye-opening experience for me that I never want to forget. It reminds me how fortunate I am. When I feel “justifiably” upset, I remember that photo and those beautiful children. I repeat this mantra over and over in my mind: “Never complain because the airplane is late. There are people in the world who have real problems. They have problems you cannot even begin to imagine. You are a very lucky man. Never complain because the airplane is late.”

Next time that you board an airplane, and you hear the announcement that the airplane is going to be late, say to yourself, “I am such a lucky person.”

I hope someday that this story helps you turn a moment of pain and anger into a moment of gratitude and joy.

In November 2015 Dr. Marshall Goldsmith was recognized as the #1 Leadership Thinker in the World and the top 5 Management Thinker at the Thinkers50 Award Ceremony in London. He was also selected as the #1 Executive Coach in the World by, and one of the 10 Most Influential Management Thinkers in the World by Thinkers50 in both 2011 and 2013. In 2011 he was chosen as the World’s Most Influential Leadership Thinker. Marshall was the highest rated executive coach on the Thinkers50 List in both 2011 and 2013.

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There was listed as a top ten business bestseller for 2013 by INC Magazine / 800 CEO Read (for the seventh consecutive year). Marshall’s exciting new research on engagement is published in his newest book Triggers (Crown, 2015).

Please order Triggers at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!


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  1. Oh my goodness there is so much value in this video, I am going to have watch it slowly several times to really get the most out of it. And I absolutely love the quote, that the meaning of life is to make a positive difference. Thank you Marshall!

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