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Chip Heath & Dan Heath

How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

4.4 (268 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath is a self-help book that shows how to embrace change effectively. It provides a framework for creating change in personal and professional life by applying three steps; directing the Rider, motivating the Elephant, and shaping the Path.

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    Implementing change is like riding an elephant: choose a direction, give your elephant some peanuts and stick to an easy path.

    Changing our behavior is not always easy, as anyone who has resolved to quit smoking, eat healthier or start running in the mornings will know. So what is it that can make change so difficult?

    An excellent analogy for examining behavioral change is that of an elephant and its rider trying to follow a certain path. The elephant, being a powerful, stubborn creature, represents the emotional side of people, looking for a quick payoff rather than long-term benefits. The rider in turn represents the rational side that knows what should be done, and can tug at the elephant’s reins to exert some small degree of control over it. Finally, the path represents the situation in which the change is to take place.

    Consider a situation where you want to get up at 5:45 in the morning to go jogging. Your inner rider has rationally analyzed the situation and thinks this is good for you. But what happens when the alarm actually goes off in the morning? If you’re like most people, your inner elephant will demand just a little more sleep, totally overpowering your rider, and you’ll end up skipping the jog.

    But what about the situational factors that help or hinder your noble quest? A comfy bed and bad weather outside won’t help get that elephant moving, that’s for sure. On the other hand, the smell of freshly brewed coffee just might.  

    All three components influence whether change will be successful, whether progress along the path is made. From changing your own diet to influencing others' behavior, your success will depend on your ability to direct the rider, motivate the elephant and shape the path.

    Implementing change is like riding an elephant: choose a direction, give your elephant some peanuts and stick to an easy path.

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    What is Switch about?

    Switch examines why it is often difficult for people to switch their behavior, and how, by understanding the mind, it is possible to find shortcuts that make change easier. Through scientific studies and anecdotes, Switch provides simple yet effective tools for implementing changes.

    Switch Review

    Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (2010) is a compelling guide on creating lasting change, even in the face of resistance. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its real-life stories of people who successfully made difficult changes, it provides inspiration and guidance to overcome obstacles.
    • The book offers a simple framework for understanding how to facilitate change, making it accessible and applicable to various situations.
    • Through its engaging storytelling, the book captivates readers and keeps them invested, ensuring that it is definitely not boring.

    Who should read Switch?

    • Anyone who wants to change parts of their own behavior
    • Anyone who wants to implement a change in a group or organization
    • Anyone who wants to understand why changing behavior is often so difficult

    About the Author

    Chip Heath is a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University, and his brother Dan Heath is a senior fellow at Duke University. They have co-authored two other bestsellers: Made to Stick and Decisive.

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    Switch FAQs 

    What is the main message of Switch?

    The main message of Switch is that change is possible when you understand how to shape the path, motivate the elephant, and direct the rider.

    How long does it take to read Switch?

    The reading time for Switch varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Switch a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Switch is worth reading as it provides practical strategies for making change happen in any aspect of life.

    Who is the author of Switch?

    The authors of Switch are Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

    What to read after Switch?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Switch, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
    • Professional Troublemaker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones
    • You Only Have to Be Right Once by Randall Lane
    • Mindset by Carol Dweck
    • The Art of Positive Thinking by Elizabeth R. Brown
    • Finding Your Element by Ken Robinson
    • The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim
    • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
    • Hidden Potential by Adam Grant
    • All It Takes Is a Goal by Jon Acuff