Monday, January 27, 2014

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
By Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Have you ever thought? “I would do that if I had any will power or could motivate myself.” I know I have. I know that I will start out strong on a project or a goal and then my motivation withers away as the days go by.

The Heath brothers tackle this problem in their book Switch: How to Change Things When Things Are Hard. In their research they discovered that there are two parts in a human mind. There is the rational mind and the emotional mind. The rational part is the leader but the emotional part is 3 times larger. How do you get the rational mind to guide to the emotional mind? How do you get the emotional mind to use its fierce instincts to light a fire under the rational mind? 

Self-control is an exhaustible source. Change is hard because people wear themselves out. When people attempt to change things, they are fixing habits that have become automatic and changing those behaviors will drain a person’s self-control. If you want to change things, you’ve got to appeal to both the rational mind and the emotional mind.

This idea not only applies to an individual but it applies to teams, organizations and businesses as well as countries. The book tells a story about the St. Lucia Parrot which only exists on the island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean. This is a beautifully stunning bird with deep blue, lime green and red feathers. In 1977, there were only 100 of these birds still alive because of the desolation hunters and those who wanted them as pets. One biologist said they would be extinct by the year 2000. The country’s leaders had worked so hard trying to implement laws to punish such actions but nothing had worked up to this point. People simply didn’t care about the bird. Until a grad student, fresh out of a London university, had an idea. What about using patriotism and pride to motivate people? They started a campaign to make the public more familiar with the bird. They did puppet shows, made t-shirts, convinced a band to record a song about the parrot, got volunteers to go into the school dresses as the parrot and talk about the bird. They even did a card campaign comparing the parrot to the bald eagle with the slogan “Who has the better national bird?” By 2008, there were close to 700 St. Lucia Parrots on the island and there hadn’t been a report of a bird shooting for 15 years. By motivating the emotion side of the population with a rational idea, they were able to have widespread change where there was no movement before.

This book was ingenious, full of real stories and gave me many clever ideas to try in my own life to achieve change. If you want some tools in your toolbox for the next time you want to attempt change this is a perfect book for you. 


  1. Nice - can't wait to read more of your blogs!! Go YOU!!

  2. Ooooh. Sounds intriguing. I don't even usually read Non-Fic but this one sounds like I should give it a whirl!