Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath
To be truthful, I wasn’t looking forward to reading this book…and I really didn’t know what it was about.
I obviously knew it was called Switch, and in big letters on the front cover it reads, ‘how to change things when change is hard’, but what exactly are we trying to change here? Change the economy, change people’s beliefs, change the way I look, what is it?
I hate the cover design, I think it looks old and boring and I dislike the colors.
The only thing that gave me any confidence is the statement on the front cover informing me that it is a New York Times number one bestseller.
Everything else about the book turned me away from it.
The only reason I had the book in the first place was because various other people that I look up to and admire had recommended it and had it on their reading lists.
I did have the book for a while, but due to the points noted above, I had been pushing it further and further to the bottom of my reading pile, until eventually, I started running out of stuff to read and I had to give it a go.
What is it with book titles?
Again, this is another book that I feel as though it’s been titled incorrectly as the title doesn’t tell me an awful lot about it.
Yes, it is telling me that it is going to help me make some changes, but I don’t know what those changes are.
After reading the book, I feel as though it’s more about how to create a mass movement, although the principals set out in this book will work on a small and personal scale.
This may be due to the fact that the majority of the examples given in this book are on a grand scale (which is probably done to emphasize how powerful these simple principals are).
What is Switch about?
The book revolves around one psychological theory of a rider, an elephant and a path. (For those that are keen travelers and follow my travel blog, you may point out that we shouldn’t be riding elephants, but please stay with me on this one, no one is riding an elephant, this is just in theory).
Switch explains that you are made up of both a rider and an elephant. The rider is your analytical side and is more likely to give up things for a future goal, while the elephant is your emotional side and is looking for quick wins.
To help explain this further, let’s use the example of losing weight.
The rider in you knows that if you eat too much junk food and don’t do enough exercise, you will gain weight, but if you want to lose weight, our rider also knows that if you cut down on junk food and move more, then you’re going to lose it.
The elephant in us isn’t thinking long term. So, when you get peckish in the afternoon your elephant is the one that helps you to reach for the biscuits, while the rider is telling you not too.
Now, the third part of the equation is the path which helps to determine where you want to get to.
You must shape your path and help both your rider and elephant follow it in order to reach your desired destination (or desired outcome).
This principle is broken down very early on in the book.
Each section – the rider, the elephant and the path – is then covered in detail showing you how to influence each part.
What makes this book enjoyable, in my opinion, is that you can relate to every example and principal. With each page turn, you are agreeing with the authors because the examples reflect your own behavior and your own response to change.
As you read the book you will come across real-life examples of where change needed to happen, and following the principals set out in the book, it will tell you the changes that were put into place in order to get the desired result.
You’ll also come across ‘clinics’, which are examples of problems where change need to be made, and the authors walk you through step-by-step how to come up with a solution that is most likely to give favorable results.
The authors do leave a few quirky comments throughout the book, which gives a very light-hearted feel and makes the book more enjoyable to read.
My overall thoughts
Although I really dislike the look and design of this book, every page of it was valuable and well worth the time it took me to read it.
It’s a shame that the design affected also the readability, in terms of font, of this book, otherwise it would have been 10/10!
Have you read Switch?
If you have read this book, I’d really like to know your opinion on it.
Use the Reader Rating bar above (in the ornage box) to give the book a score out of 10 and leave me a comment letting me know what you thought.