The problem is this: Often the heart and mind disagree. Fervently.
– Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
You know the feeling: you know you need to make a change of some sort, but don’t seem to be able to get it in gear.
Perhaps you’ve decided to broaden your skill set, which may mean pursuing an online certificate or degree, something you’ve never done before. Or you’ve decided that you’re going to start actively building your professional brand online, necessitating learning and using unfamiliar tools. Or you’ve determined that your organization could support professional development among the staff much more effectively if it changed its approach to annual performance evaluations – but how do you help bring about that change in approach?
All of these situations have in common the fact that while you’ve identified a needed change, getting from recognizing the need to successfully making that change seems daunting at best. The good news? You’re not alone. The better news? You can figure it out, and Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard (Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Broadway Books, 2010) will help you do so.
Riding the Elephant
According to the Heath brothers (authors of the best-selling Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Random House, 2007), the reason making a desired (but difficult) change is so hard is that we essentially try to use the rational part of our mind (“the Rider”) to wrestle the emotional part (“the Elephant”) into submission – with predictable results. Or lack thereof.
The authors suggest that rather than fighting reality (yep, the brownies are going to win out over the Brussels sprouts almost every time), we instead understand how to use the strengths of both the Rider and Elephant parts of our brains to successfully create and sustain change, whether in our organizations or our lives.
Change is never easy (and the ways we can devise to avoid it countless!). Yet all career growth depends on our ability to stretch beyond our current skills, knowledge, and expertise to continue to build value. In essence, we have to engage in ongoing change.
Switch provides both insights into how the two different aspects of our brain work, and how to use the specific strengths of those different aspects to help us change our behaviors or that of others. Through countless stories and case studies that demonstrate their key points, the authors provide a set of practical actions that may not make change easy, but will make it easier – and a lot likelier to succeed.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Broadway Books, 2010. 305p. ISBN 9780385528757.