Thursday, February 17, 2011

How I Read It: Switch

A few thoughts after finishing Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath

Quotable: "Knowledge does not change behavior.  We have all encountered crazy shrinks and obese doctors and divorced marriage counselors."
"To create movement, you have have to be specific and concrete."
"When 'milestones' seem too distant...look for an 'inch-pebble'."

Let's Not Get Spiritual: In my 2011 book overview I asked this question about Switch: "Is it possible to change without God in the picture?"  I would answer that Yes and No.  Yes, we can make changes to our life and circumstances "without God".  We see it often: You don't need to be a Christian to lose weight, to be more punctual, etc.  (Truthfully, nothing can be done without God.  But the freedom that He gives us often makes us think we're in control of our lives.)  And this is where Switch spends most of its time: changing the circumstances and situations of everyday life.  But No, it is not possible to change our spiritual condition.  We need Jesus for that.

Let's Get Spiritual:  Despite this being a secular book, I was amazed at how many Biblical principles were "discovered."  Things like...  "Mere knowledge doesn't change behavior."  "Act your way into a new way of thinking."  "A person's identity is important for behavioral change."  "You can change. You are not stuck as you are."  "Change is a process, not an event."  "Your environment/community greatly influences your behavior."
What does this say to me?  I think God wants us to change and gives us the tools to do it.  If you're consistently plugging into Scripture, you are already someone who is awash in "change principles."  What Switch does is give change a framework.  (And praise God that he gave the Heath brothers the minds to put this framework together.)

You Can Use This:  Speaking of framework, it is pretty simple and easy to remember.  (You can find it here, but you need to 'Sign Up' before you can access it.)  I know that in the next year I'll find myself 'stuck.'  For example: if a camper at one of COCUSA's locations consistently trashes the entire bathroom I often feel stuck.  (Hypothetical situation of course.) What should I do in a situation like that?  For starters, I want to pray about what's stuck and invite God into the process: Pray early and pray often!  But then, I'm planning on using the mind He's given me and this book's framework as a guide to making a switch.  Hopefully I can share a cool story of how it happened.

I'm Still Wondering: One of the directives early on in the process of making a Switch is to "Script the critical moves."  For example, telling a toddler (or teenager) to clean his entire room might lead to no action whatsoever.  But telling a toddler (or teenager) to pick up all of the matchbox cars (or soda cans) on the floor might help get him started because it is a specific and smaller directive. I'm wondering this:  When you 'script the critical moves' how do you ensure actual change and not merely a band-aid on the symptoms? (In this example, the toddler (or teenager) hasn't actually switched to being a cleaner or more obedient person, you just lowered the bar enough for him or her to obey.)

If you've read Switch I'd love to hear from you.  What did you think of it?  What did you think of How I Read It?
2011 Personal Impact Ranking:  This is my ranking of which books impact me the most.
1. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
2. Crazy Love by Francis Chan

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