By December 29, 2011 12 Comments Read More →

10 Self Help Insights From Switch (and Happy New Year!)

imageIn this post I will share with you 10 insights from the book Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath and how you can apply it in practice.

  1. Bigger container equals more eating. This conclusion the authors call out based on the experiment where people ate more popcorn if they were given a bigger containers. This is how you can apply it. Think of the containers as of problems you hit. My personal observation suggests that the bigger problems people tackle the more likely they tend to fail. On other hand if they take on smaller problems at once chances they will be successful to solve it. Another good thing with smaller problems is that when failed to solve it chances it will go unnoticed since it is a small one. When you hit big problem break it into smaller ones. Drop insignificant ones altogether from the breakdown and tackle few vital small problems. For example, if you have 3 vital and solved only 2 of them this is what counts, the other one that dropped off your plate will be unnoticed or overshadowed by the other 2 significant you solved. This is what I do and it serves me well – in life and at work.
  2. What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem. My personal observation suggest when hitting a problem people tend to focus on people – either their opponents, partners, or themselves – to solve it. Shift the focus from the people to the situation instead. Once done, the situation could be treated in one of the tree ways: avoid it (don’t’ get involved in first place or “leave and let live”), adopt it (accept it and be affected by it but don’t complain afterwards), or change it (fight for your right to party!). Next time you hit a problem look at the situation or context and act accordingly. When trying to solve it ( or change it) shift focus on the situation that would benefit other parties vs. trying to persuade them directly asking to change.
  3. For anything to change, someone has to start acting differently. My personal observation suggest that the pattern “say yes do no” is quite prevalent. If you are told one thing, don’t take it for granted until you witness actions that support it. Actions speak louder than words. Same applies to yourself. If you promise something act upon it immediately. Do something small that supports what you declare, otherwise it’s worthless.
  4. To change someone’s behavior, you’ve got to change that person’s situation. This one works best with small children. When a toddler throws her tantrum don’t try to explain or convince or worse get mad at her. Take here to another room and switch focus. Change her situation and distract from the tantrum. Works for me in most cases with my kids. It works also at work. You don’t have to take folks to expensive offsite meeting to change their perspective. Instead, create new mental image for them. It takes though storytelling skills but works fairly well with adults – both at work and in personal life.
  5. For individuals’ behavior to change, you’ve got to influence not only their environment but their hearts & minds. Back to storytelling skills. To tell an appealing story you need to connect to people’s values. That’s what works best. Next time you watch TV or listen to the radio notice what caught your attention (let alone made you actually buy the advertised product). Was it something based on reason or the one that tried to connect to your values and emotions? I bet it was the later vs. former. Well, “50% off” works great too, and it somehow does connect to our values, eh? But this won’t probably work for you when trying to persuade your colleagues at work unless you are a manager with unlimited budgets. Instead, tell the story that connects to their hearts and that has a meaning to them. And most important it connects to your heart first. Convince yourself first.
  6. Self control is is an exhaustible resource. Getting yourself out of your comfort zone is important to your growth. It requires lots of willpower and self control though. Be careful with this resource, it’s exhaustible, use it with caution and for a good purpose. When drained, fill it by getting back to your comfort zone. For example, do something you especially love, something that bring you joy frictionlessly. In short, to keep your self-control reservoirs filled give in to something you don’t need to force yourself periodically. Once filled get back to trenches and keep up with the good fight.
  7. What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity. This is one of the biggest a-ha’s from the book for me. Clear and concise problem or vision statement goes a long way. When hitting resistance or challenge, ask simple question – “what’s the problem?” or “what’s the challenge?” Even with yourself, when you feel anxiety about something or fear just ask “what’s the problem?” or “what’s the challenge?” Then answer precisely with simple one liner. That’s the hard part and that’s about being extremely clear. Once problem one liner clearly stated solution will come naturally, or even better you will realize there is no problem at all. Works for me at work and in personal life very well.
  8. If you want people to change, you must provide crystal clear directions. Stating vision/problem clearly is half way to solution. Another half is actually providing it. The key to successful solutions is being precise and prescriptive. Instead “we can” or “we need” consider “1. Do that; 2. Do this; 3. Done” This is the approach I used back in the field when I was working with customers as principal consultant. This is the approach I am using now when creating technical guidance. It serves me well and I have proven track for success using it.
  9. What looks like laziness is often a exhaustion. I am big fan of friction free things. It’s especially important when you need to drive change. It’s even more critical when you need to drive change and you are not in the position of the authority. To have better chance for success when driving the change find out what would be the easiest path for people to buy in or to adopt it. Start with WIIFM (what’s in it for me) to identify what would be most natural for the parties to act upon, then wrap your idea in this and “market” it this way. Otherwise folks will need to spend more cycles trying to understand how it fits their life/work style and their objectives. People are not lazy to think about your new great ideas, they are phreakin’ overloaded imagewith their own and with their managers’ ideas, people are exhausted already. Make it easy for them to grasp your ideas and improve your chances for buy in.
  10. Son, if you don’t take out the trash tonight, you’re fired. You can fire your reports, you can even “fire” your manager or the whole company by just leaving them but you cannot fire your family. And you probably don’t want to. Skim through the list above and start applying it with your domestic situations. It works for me. It will work for you too.

Happy New Year!

Image By Nina Yasmine

About the Author:

This blog is dedicated to share simple practices I that get me results.

12 Comments on "10 Self Help Insights From Switch (and Happy New Year!)"

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  1. farouk says:

    thank you for the tips and i wish you a great new year
    may all your wishes come true in 2012 :)

  2. alik levin says:

    Thank you.
    Best wishes to you too in 2012!

  3. J.D. Meier says:

    > To change someone’s behavior, you’ve got to change that person’s situation.
    So true. This works for animals too.

    When I can’t get the changes I want out of me, I change my container or situation, and that usually helps do the trick.

  4. alik levin says:

    This works for me too when trying to change myself.

  5. Alik, I have to be honest, I was afraid to read much more than the headlines because I haven’t read the book yet (And it’s on my To-Read list – at the very top – and has been for a few months!) But, I did read on. I will act surprised when I read the Heath bros. :) I would certainly agree with them, but especially #1. It is true of finances as well. If you make 40K per year, you’ll find a way to spend 40K. If you make 200K, you’ll find a way to spend that, too, if you just react to life. Happy New Year!

  6. alik levin says:

    Worry not! The book is packed with goodness. I read quite a few books lately and this one significantly stands out. You will enjoy it ton. No spoiler here.

  7. Lew Sauder says:

    Alik, you have an excellent knack for finding insightful books and stories that provide meaningful information. This is a great list (as usual). I’m going put this book on my Amazon wish list.
    Lew Sauder

  8. alik levin says:

    Thank you.
    You will love reading this book.

  9. Shilpan says:


    I really like your point#2. We can avoid much politics and get more done for the company if we treat an issue for its substance and not for those people involved. I also liked #8. To have a vision is one thing; having a clear action plan is the key. I need to read this book. Thanks for sharing.


  10. Alik Levin says:

    Thank you.
    This book is a blast. I loved it a lot.

  11. David says:

    Hi Alik,

    Point # 4 really does work well with children. I use it with both my boys when it’s required.

    Heck! It even works for me.

    Good post!

  12. alik levin says:

    Thank you.
    Glad you liked it and found practical.

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