In a recent interview, the host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah explained how he works out without going to the gym. He described his strategy as “assigning an exercise to each person.”

  • When Trevor runs into Jane, he does 5 pushups
  • When Trevor runs into Bob, he does 10 squats

B.J. Fogg would applaud Trevor for using Triggers to create new behaviors.

Fogg, a behavior scientist at Stanford, is the architect behind the concept called “Tiny Habits.” Trevor’s pushups and squats are Tiny Habits.

According to Fogg, a Tiny Habit is “a very little thing that you sequence into your life in a place that makes sense and you work to make it automatic.”

How do we make it automatic? Triggers.

For example, Fogg wanted to be less sedentary in his office. So he created this trigger: when his phone rings, he stands up.

By anchoring a new behavior (ex: exercising; standing up) to something else that already happens (ex: Trevor running into Jane and Bob in the hallway; Fogg’s phone ringing), we trigger the new behavior.

“Habits are things you do without deciding,” says Fogg.

And when the behaviors are simple and automatic, there’s no need to rely on motivation or willpower.

Triggers are powerful, but we don’t need to limit their potential to create good-health behaviors.

We can use triggers to create best-boss-ever behaviors:

  • When we start a team meeting, recognize someone’s effort
  • When we arrive at our desk Monday morning, send an encouraging text to the team
  • When we conclude a 1:1 with a team member, ask, “What’s in your way that I can do something about?”
  • When someone seems upset or frustrated, stop talking and just listen.
  • When we get our paycheck, write a thank you note.

In our quest to become better bosses, triggering new behaviors is a game-changer.

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