Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review: Switch

Book Review: Switch - How To Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath

This book blew me away! It occured to me as I read it book how deeply I am immersed in the idea of change - as a counselor, as a Christian, as an investor, as a husband, etc. In many ways my whole life is about change! And perhaps that's what brought me to this book. I am deeply curious about why I don't change the things I want to, why it's so difficult to get other people to change, and what is it that has helped some people make great changes. I would say that this book has give me answers to all of those questions - and more.

The book is built around this metaphor which discusses the tension between our planner (rational) side and our doer (emotional) side:

"But to us, the duo’s tension is captured best by an analogy used by University of Virginia psychologist, Jonathan Haidt in his wonderful book The Happiness Hypothesis. Haidt sayss that our emotional side is the Elephant and our rational side is the rider. Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched.

Most of us are all too familiar with situations in which our Elephant overpowers our Rider. You’ve experienced this if you’ve ever slept in, overeaten, dialed up your ex at midnight, procrastinated, tried to quit smoking and failed, skipped the gym, gotten angry and said something you regretted, abandoned your Spanish or piano lessons, refused to speak up in a meeting because you were scared, and so on.”

The authors then describe how to do three things that are essential for change whether you want to see personal change in your self, your organization, or the world. You must direct the rider, motivate the elephant, and guide the path. The book shares completely amazing stories of people doing just that. Such as a group of lowly medical interns who manage to defeat an entrenched, decades-old medical practice that was endangering patients. Or the home-organizing guru who developed a simple technique for overcoming the dread of housekeeping and the manager who transformed a lackadaisical customer-support team into service zealots by removing a standard tool of customer service. The genius of the book is that it makes often mysterious forces clear and understandable. I was very inspired after reading this excellent book and will go over it again in early 2011. I rate it 4.7 ninja stars out of 5.

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