Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success Paperback – Apr 10 2012
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A strategic, step-by-step guide to breaking longstanding bad habits from the authors of Crucial Conversations draws on research coming out of their Change Anything Labs, where they study and work with people struggling with self-destructive patterns. The authors introduce a system for adopting-and sticking to-better behaviors in this smart, sensible work.
The good news (and this book is all positive) is that you can get out of debt, beat addictions, lose weight, build healthy relationships, and become more successful in your career if you understand what the authors call the "six sources of influence that affect daily decisions." ... They offer awareness and positive steps to all who seek change in their lives.
About the Author
Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler are the leaders of VitalSmarts, a state-of-the-art innovative training company that has taught more than two million people. VitalSmarts has consulted with more than 300 of the Fortune 500 companies.
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Top Customer Reviews
In this, their latest collaboration, they develop in much greater depth six concepts of influence that operate in pairs within three separate but interdependent domains: personal motivation and personal mobility, social motivation and social ability, and structural motivation and structural ability. As I read Part I in which the six influences are introduced, I thought about the life and career of Mohandas Gandhi who achieved specific goals in all three domains: his own development as a leader, creating a critical mass of support for the non-violent campaign to achieve independence for India, and the structural transformation of the British Commonwealth.
The co-authors rigorously examine each of the six influences in Part II and explain how to
o Disarm impulses and make the right choices pleasurable
o Obtain the knowledge and develop the skills needed to be a change agent
o Turn negative "accomplices" (i.e.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
So does "Change Anything" live up to its claim? Yes, and No.
The fact that I think this book lives up to anything even approaching its bold claim is a high recommendation for this book. Here's what the book delivers that makes me believe that if you actually understand and faithfully use the principles of this book that you can, indeed, change many of your behaviors for the better.
First, the authors free us from a powerful mind trap: the simplistic belief that if only we had more willpower we'd succeed in changing our lives. The reality the authors argue for (persuasively) is that while willpower is still important, changing behavior turns out to be as much about "skill" as it is about "will." And the truth is that certain skills for changing our behaviors can be taught. The authors also point out that that often (for example when you go to Las Vegas into a casino) you can't see what's controlling. However, "If you can see it, you can change it." "Change Anything," then, is a book about seeing the hidden influences in our lives and using them to change our behaviors from ones with negative to ones with positive consequences.
The book opens with a series of fascinating experiments on children that provide evidence for all that the authors will present. Throughout, what the authors teach is supported by research experiments that are not only enlightening but also entertaining.
So why do we fail at personal change? We don't have enough influences working for us and working all together.
It turns out that there are 6 sources of Influence in our lives. These same 6 sources of influence can be used to either promote a healthy or unhealthy behavior.
1. personal motivation - tap into your existing desires and wants
2. personal ability - learn new skills to promote change
3. social motivation - turn accomplices into friends that help you make positive changes
4. social ability - use confederates to enable good choices
5. structural motivation - directly link short-term rewards and punishments to your new habits
6. structural ability - change your environment to one more likely to promote the change you want
For each of these 6 sources of influence, the authors provide specific strategies for change that will use this influence to help you change your behavior to something positive instead of the default negative behavior. Their identification of the 6 sources of influence, combined with their chapter-long discussion of strategies to change each of these influences, is an impressive accomplishment.
I don't want to give away too much of their work, but when I looked at the chapter on the first factor, which I thought might be one of the weakest areas, I was surprised to find the authors advocating that it is, in fact, possible to learn to love what you hate. If someone can change this, then change is very, very possible.
The remainder of the book, after describing each influence and its attendant strategies in detail, applies these 6 sources of influence and change to key areas of our lives that are what most of us care most about: career success, weight loss, financial fitness, addiction, relationships, and how to change the world.
This is an impressive book that has brought together in one place a simple, powerful, and reasonable means of changing our lives.
After such a glowing report, why do I say that the authors don't completely live up to their promise? Because I believe that the human heart is more corrupt, self-deceptive, and weak than they assume. I believe that there are certain things about our lives that, in spite of persistently and intentionally using their strategies, will remain unchanged. In spite of using a variety of influences as suggested, often the heart wants what the heart wants, even if it's not good for the body, the soul, or others.
Having said this, this is still an incredible book! I've read several books on change, many on finding your talents and using them, many other self-help books, and even more on leadership. "Change Anything" is a book that excels most of these other books I've read, and I believe that just about everyone should have it on their bookshelf. But don't merely "read" this book: put it into effect. I'm confident you'll be surprised at how different life can be.
By the way, this book also comes with a free code to access their website with a lot of additional information. If you liked this book, then you might also enjoy and benefit from Cialdini's "Influence." "Influence" won't teach you how to change things, but it will provide much more fascinating evidence about the things that influence us, often without us knowing it.
If you want to know not only how to change your behavior but how to influence others for good, read the authors' other book: "Influencer." It's probably even better!
Change Anything is organized into three parts:
Part 1: Presents four science-based strategies implementing lasting change
Part 2: Describes the six sources of influence and suggests ways to apply them for personal change
Part 3: Discusses the Change Anything suggestions in common change scenarios
Parts 1 and 2 alone justify buying the book.
Here are some reasons why Change Anything worked for me:
- The four scientific strategies outlined in Part 1 provided a great structure for applying the six sources of influence.
- It is down to earth and practical. The book acknowledges the realities of a change effort (e.g., sometimes there will be bad days), and the recommended actions are "do-able."
- The book offers many useful examples and concrete ideas for making changes stick
One word of warning...applying the Change Anything suggestions is difficult - it requires effort and willingness to spend time planning, recording, analyzing, and adjusting your personal change efforts. The book includes complementary access to a website that supports planning and tracking your change efforts.
I dropped my rating to four stars for a few specific reasons:
- I found the Change Anything web site to be limited - it didn't offer compelling content or resources for me.
- Part 3, which comprises almost 40% of the book, is mostly useful if you are dealing with one of the common change scenarios it discusses. If your change scenario is different, part 3 is mostly a set of examples. Part 3 seemed like filler to me.
Overall, though, I found Change Anything to be an insightful and practical guide to making personal changes stick.
What is the best way to achieve success in our lives? The authors of "Change Anything" argue that not only must the answer be based on scientific inquiry (which they offer), but should also not rely on willpower as the only path to change. This would seem to contradict what Baumeister and Tierney argue in "Willpower", but they are quick to point out that willpower is only wrong because it is incomplete. Using their "Six Sources of Influence" the authors aim to lay out a step-by-step program that anyone can use to make changes in their life in areas as diverse as career, diet, finances, addictions and relationships.
Using a more "person-focused" approach than Timothy Wilson's "social-focused" format in "Redirect", the authors provide clear, engaging chapters on each source along with specific tactics to go along with each step. Stories like that of the doctoral student who took a picture of himself, cut it in to 90 pieces and added a piece each day he wrote two pages of his dissertation is an example of the thought-provoking examples they provide in each chapter. And using such tactics as "loss aversion" and "positive deviance" the authors are able to round out their stories with interesting side notes.
All in all the book is informative, presents a good narrative and has clearly defined action steps for those looking to change. However, two points distressed me. One, on page 22 the authors admit in a footnote that, "For simplicity, we take license at times to combine cases under one name rather than introduce multiple characters." This led me to wonder which "Changer" that they discuss in the book actually made the changes they described and which is just an amalgamation of multiple people. Two, I don't begrudge anyone trying to monetize their efforts, but in too many instances I saw overt advertising of their program and their website during the course of reading this book. If they would have backed off of some of this self-promotion I could in good conscience give this very helpful book a better rating. In the end I did find it instructive and will use some of its recommendations, but would have given it a higher rating if not for the two points above.
The tone of the book is largely upbeat and positive and claims it can help you get out of debt, beat addictions, lose weight, build healthy relationships, and become more successful in your career if you understand what the authors call the "six sources of influence that affect daily decisions." The authors claim that the concept of willpower is incomplete and only a very small part of overcoming obstacles. They relay six practices to use, including making the right choices pleasurable, finding accomplices in change, and bribing oneself to change, and use this chapter structure to teach them:
Part I: The Science of Personal Success
--Escape the Willpower Trap
--Be the Scientist and the Subject
Part II: The Six Sources of Influence
--Source 1: Love What You Hate
--Source 2: Do What You Can't
--Sources 3 and 4: Turn Accomplices into Friends
--Source 5: Invert the Economy
--Source 6: Control Your Space
Part III: How to Change Anything
--Career: How to Get Unstuck at Work
--Weight Loss: How to Lose Weight and Get Fit and Stay That Way
--Financial Fitness: How to Get-and Live-Out of Debt
--Addiction: How to Take Back Your Life
--Relationships: How to Change Us by Changing Me
I have to admit that I checked out Amazon.com before I wrote this review of Change Anything. At this time (08-20-11), there are 43 reviews and when averaged together, they average five stars out of five. This is important because, for me, it means that a number of people are finding this book useful (or that the authors have lots of family members and friends!). Admittedly, some complain that it's a bit dry, and others complain that there is no real "science" involved, but overall, the reviews are outstanding.
The reason I checked out Amazon.com first is that I am not looking to change anything at the current time: I do not need to lose weight; I am financially fit; I have no addictions, and I am not looking for any change in my relationships. That simply means that I am not certain that the ideas for change are valid; however, when you look at the positive reviews and the number of people who have found the ideas here valuable, useful, or practical, it indicates the authors have effectively hit on the right message, useful and productive suggestions, and a technique that works.
As I have said in reviewing a number of other books -- like those on how to communicate effectively -- I feel that any book that makes (or has the potential of making) a positive contribution to our well being or a successful life or whatever, should be heralded and revered. Those who need help in various areas should be able to find it, and I love (being a writer myself) supporting the book publishing industry.
Here, then is my assessment of this book. 1) It is extremely well-written. 2) The "Notes" section looks very strong. 3) It has a terrific index. 4) The examples used throughout are useful and engaging. 5) The ideas are practical, straightforward, well-explained, and useful. There is no doubt that this is a "how-to-do-it" book.
Although the authors offer a number of valuable tools for change (saying that willpower alone is not sufficient) -- 1. Love what you hate, or come to terms with pleasure and pain. 2. Do what you can or build the necessary skills that can spur change. 3. and 4. Turn accomplices into friends or get other people into the act of change.5. Invert the Economy or use incentives, and, thus, manipulate the benefits of change. 6. Control your space or use the environment to help the change process -- it still comes down to whether or not people are willing to make the commitment -- even a commitment to purchase this book!
As one reviewer at Amazon.com said, "The whole book is geared towards specific actions you can implement so that you aren't just relying on willpower alone. The methods recommended here are not quick-fix ideas, rather they are each a part of a larger process of taking deliberate steps to begin heading in the direction you really want to go."
I really enjoyed their discussion of the six sources of Influence in our lives. These are the six sources of influence that can be used to promote a healthy lifestyle:
1. personal motivation where you tap into your existing desires and wants
2. personal ability where you learn new skills to promote change
3. social motivation where you turn accomplices into friends that help you make positive changes
4. social ability where you use confederates to enable good choices
5. structural motivation where you directly link short-term rewards and punishments to your new habits
6. structural ability where you change your environment to one more likely to promote the change you want
People who want to change need to seek out this book. It has real value and potential, but everyone must realize something the authors acknowledge, too: Any change comes from within and requires commitment, work, time, and patience. And whether you like it or not, there is no magic formula, and most people who want change -- in whatever area of life but especially in personal development (e.g., weight, exercise, diet, or sleep) -- will not put forth the commitment, do the necessary work, take the time, or even be patient (they want instant results!).
I'm not a family member or friend of any of the authors, and (ooops!) I gave the book five stars out of five! Truly, it deserves it.