This post was originally published on the Times Union Books Blog
This past October Chip and Dan Heath, brothers and co-authors published their fourth book called The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. It was a book that had a powerful impact on me like Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle (2015) did when I read it over a year ago. These kinds social psychology books shed light on everyday topics and encourage conversation around why people do the things they do, but provide examples and context for understanding it on a deeper level and making changes or becoming more aware. Both of the books are regular references in conversation for me. And with The Power of Moments, there was a relatable opportunity to use the book in my work as well as personal life. (You can see my post about that here).
Then I went on a binge; I downloaded through the public library or borrowed the print copies of their other three: Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (2013), Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard (2010) and Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (2006). And again, I was either ferociously highlighting on my eReader or Post-iting the print book when a concept or example struck a chord. There was full engagement with each of them.
Why are the books important? First and foremost, there is a relaxed humor that shows the personality of the brothers. Every now and then you get a taste of it and smile. Second, the books are well-organized. Each has a formula that makes them accessible to every reader. There’s the identified issue that they’re discussing, a quick acronym or mnemonic device to remember the steps, then subsequent chapters that dive into the steps individually. Within the chapters are subchapters that highlight tangible examples. Think businesses like Southwest or the military. Usually it’s followed by a clinic or “what should you do?” that you can investigate (or skip) to apply your newfound knowledge. And then the ever-present summary of the main points. Like I said: well-organized and comforting when moving from book to book. Third, the examples are succinct and useful. Nary is there a long-winded bad example. They’re inspiring which is why the books have received awards from business and leadership fields. Fourth, there is plenty of backmatter like additional reading material and their website with one-page cheat sheets of the concepts, podcasts, and “how to” manuals: they’re not hiding their genius but spreading it around.
What did I learn from Moments? That any moment can use one to all four of the concepts of EPICness, so think 1) elevation, 2) insight, 3) pride, and 4) connection. What did I learn from Switch? That self-control is an exhaustible resource and that if you 1) direct the rider, 2) motivate the elephant, and 3) shape the path you can work toward change. What did I learn from Decisive? To WRAP: 1) widen your options, 2) reality-test your assumptions, 3) attain distance before deciding, and 4) prepare to be wrong. And, what did I learn from Stick? Achieve SUCCESs for ideas by 1) keeping it simple, 2) unexpected, 3) concrete, 4) credible, 5) emotional, 6) through stories and again, keep it 7) simple.
Whether you pick up one of the books or all four like I did in a two-week span, you won’t regret the added insight you’ll gain, especially if you’re a fan of social psychology. Have I steered you wrong yet? Right now, the only question you should be asking is which one you’ll start with. And if you’re thinking that, you might want to pick up Decisive first.