Have you ever taken the time to consider what your spirit animal is?
The animal you resonate most with, that shares similar qualities with you - the creature you'd be if you were reincarnated.
If you've met me, chances are, we've probably had many intimate discussions surrounding this topic.
It's fascinating to me.
You can understand my curiosity then, when I saw the cover of Marshall Goldsmith's latest novel, Triggers.
Goldsmith is an executive coach and international best-selling author. He teaches Fortune 500 CEO's about leadership and performance, and is one of the top ten Most Influential Management Thinkers in the world.
Marshall Goldsmith will be speaking at The Art of Leadership conference on October 21, 2016 at the Metro Convention Centre. Use promo code TM34 to receive a discounted ticket.
On the cover of Triggers is a large feline carnivore, in a transformative state. It reminds me of my own totem animal - the Panther (a symbol of the night - powerful and aggressive, fiercely loyal and protective, intuitive and feminine).
So why the symbolism in Goldsmith's cover art?
Nurture vs Nature
When exploring Triggers and unpacking some of Goldsmith's concepts and theories, the age-old adage "Nurture vs Nature" continued to present itself.
Goldsmith attempts to understand the gap between success and failure among leaders who otherwise share commonalities in terms of coaching and personality. Nurture.
The key variable, he argues, lies within their environment. Nature.
"This book is about the environment. Not just the relationships between people. Not just how I see myself," said Goldsmith in a series of interviews for his 2015 publication. "How does the world influence me, and how do I influence the world?"
Goldsmith explains how our environment impacts our ability to make changes, and how it triggers certain behaviours.
"Triggers in the environment can change our behaviours, and often in way we do not want."
Once you're aware of your triggers you can either consciously remove yourself from the situation, or at least, learn how to better deal with environmental factors that impact behavioural change.
"How can we create this new person we want to be?"
Goldsmith's work is rich in the theory of behavioural change - creating behaviour and making changes that last.
"This book is aimed at helping you become the person you want to become, not telling you who that person is."
He helps people become who they want to become, without being prescriptive or judgmental. He consistently asks, how can we create this new person we want to be?
This novel calls on the learnings from two years worth of research, in 79 conducted studies, and five decades worth of experience in the field.
"I think self-discipline is greatly overrated," said Goldsmith in an interview with Strategy + Business magazine. "We need somebody or something to help provide structure in our lives."
Strategy 1: The Daily Questionnaire
One of his strategies is the daily questionnaire check-in.
You set a list of self-choosen questions, and every single day have someone contact you to ask you the same set of questions. You grade your answers, and repeat the next day. And the day after that. And so on.
"It's hard to look in the mirror every day and evaluate yourself," said Goldsmith. "It's embarrassing. I screw up every day."
This process of self-reflection and accountability is a critical component for making changes, or conversely, maintaining consistency with positive behaviour.
Strategy 2: The Wheel of Change
Another strategy he details is referred to as the Wheel of Change.
There are four dimensions to this concept: 1. Create 2. Keep 3. Eliminate 4. Accept.
Each cog on the wheel represents a positive or negative. What behaviour can we create, or keep; and what behaviour can we eliminate, or simply learn to accept?
So the next time you think about your own spirit animal, consider not only the animal you currently are, but also, the animal you want to become.