How did a 66-year-old man beat hundreds of young, fit men in a 1,000-mile bicycle race?

The year was 1951. The man was Gustaf Håkansson. The country, Sweden. When he got to the starting line, the doctors said he was too old and frail to compete, so he was not officially entered into the race. He decided to ride anyway.

And since he wasn’t an official participant, he decided to break one of their rules. He didn’t stop at the daily checkpoints to rest and sleep. He just kept peddling into the night for five days only stopping for one-hour naps. As a result, he finished the race one full day ahead of the other competitors.

Observers who only saw the final moments of the race were quite confused about how an elderly man could beat hundreds of young, athletic men by such a wide margin. However, once they learned of his strategy, the confusion was dispelled.

When we try to find the events that led to a belief we too can get a bit confused. But when we learn a strategy for finding these events we can uncover them even when they are less than obvious. One such strategy is the triggers technique.

What is the triggers technique?

It’s a structured way to find the source of a belief that uses present triggers for feelings to guide our search. When you struggle to find the source of a belief, having a systematic approach helps you find leading questions that help you zero in on exactly what you need.

How do you use the triggers technique?

First, you ask “What triggers a feeling related to the belief today?”
Second, make a list of answers.
Third, turn those answers into leading questions.

So if the belief was “I’m not important” I’d ask what would happen to a person to make them feel unimportant.

Here are a few answers:

-Being ignored
-Having your opinions disregarded
-Being overlooked in favor of other people

Now that we have this list, we can use this to create leading questions.

Were there ever times growing up that you felt ignored?
Did you ever feel that your opinions were not taken seriously?
Did you ever feel that you were overlooked while others got attention?

These questions would help your client find the source of this belief.

Here’s an example of how the triggers technique was applied

For example, Robert had the belief “I’m not good enough” When he was asked what led him to that belief, he said he had no idea. His facilitator asked him what kinds of situations made him feel not good enough today.

Robert said, “When I make a mistake. Or when I get criticized by my boss or others I care about like my wife.”

So his facilitator converted Robert’s answers into the following questions, “When you were growing up what happened when your parents noticed you made a mistake or did something wrong?”

Robert was able to come up with a few ideas. When he was in his dad’s workshop, and he didn’t remember instructions, he’d get yelled at. If he forgot something at school, his parents would get mad at him and say things like “You’re an absent-minded professor.” Robert agreed that these events were the source of his belief.

Very often, the triggers in the present are similar to events that led to our beliefs in the past. This insight makes it far easier to look for the source of our beliefs. Our search is far less random and much more efficient.

But are the triggers in the present always exactly mirrored in the source of our beliefs?

The short answer is no. However, when you don’t know where to look, using the triggers technique can help you begin your search for past events that led to a belief. The specific questions will often jog the memory even if what you find ends up being very different than what happens today.


  • The triggers technique uses present events that trigger feelings to give us ideas for events that led to our beliefs.
  • This is useful because there are times when we are stumped looking for the origins of a belief.
  • To use this technique you ask what triggers feelings related to the belief today, list answers, then convert the answers to leading questions.

If you are eliminating your own beliefs or those of others, practice this technique several times so that it becomes second nature. That way it becomes like riding a bike — something you may not do often but that you can use whenever you need it.

When you set a challenging goal, does a little voice creep in asking “Can I really do this?”  Do you get a little nervous, worried you’ll fail in some way?  Do you feel that you are not really moving ahead with full force but instead are driving with the brakes on?

When that inner voice of doubt is silenced and you feel truly confident, you take action.  You follow through.  You feel like a train moving at full steam ahead with nothing in your way but the air.  Life becomes an adventure.

How do we get to this place of living free of the inner doubts that plague so many of us?

One answer is the Natural Confidence Program.

When we’re learning to walk, we keep trying no matter how often we fall.  And we fall hundreds of times.  Yet somehow along the way, we learned to give up after just a few dozen tries. We doubt ourselves.  We learned to hesitate.  We may even have learned not to risk at all.  When you eliminate the beliefs in this program, you’ll find that you reclaim the confidence we were all born with.  You reclaim your persistence.  You reclaim the optimism of a child.

See for yourself here:

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