Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book Review: Change Anything

Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler is a fascinating book. Having long held the usual assumptions about willpower, I was impressed with the counter-arguments that willpower, to a certain extent, is ineffective because it is not combined with a multi-faceted strategy:

"...We tinker with an exercise bike, try a stop-smoking patch, put up a motivational poster, take training courses, and so forth. The bad news is that more often than not we bring these influence tools into play one at a time. Little good that does. The forces that are working against us are legion - and they work in combination. So when it comes to solving personal problems, people are not only blind, they're also outnumbered."

Their study notes six sources of influence: Personal Motivation (Keeping in mind what you really want), Personal Ability (Gaining and monitoring control of your progress), Social Motivation (Turning accomplices into allies), Social Ability (Getting help and support from others) , Structural Motivation (Linking behavior to appropriate rewards and punishments), and Structural Ability (Changing the environment to support your goals).

Armed with those, you play scientist and conduct an on-going analysis of habits that contribute to the behavior which you wish to change and engage all of the six sources in your campaign. When days don't go well, you analyze what went wrong and, in essence, fall forward by adjusting your strategy to counter your failure. [One of their findings is that successful people stumble as much as they succeed but they develop a winning strategy via trial and error. In short, they study themselves and then adopt new approaches.]

This brief review does not do justice to a book which has specific chapters on each of the sources as well as detailed guidance on getting unstuck at work, losing weight and getting fit, getting and living out of debt, fighting addiction, and improving relationships.

One to be read and re-read. An extraordinary analysis of personal change. Check it out.

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