The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath, Dan Heath

Summary

  1. A defining moment is a moment which is short but meaningful, which rewires how we think about ourselves or the world, and our life is composed of these moments. This book examines these moment’s common characteristics and how you can bring them into existence more often, rather than simply relying on luck or serendipity.  

Key Takeaways

  1. Some powerful moments contain all four of the following characteristics, but they might not have them all: elevation (fun/surprise), pride, insight, and connectivity. EPIC Is a handy acronym to remember these four types of defining moments. 
    1. Elevation
      1. You elevate moments by increasing the sensory input, by breaking the script, and/or by raising the stakes
    2. Pride
      1. Defining moments catch us at our best and cause great pride. They are moments in which we see how much we’ve grown, what we’ve accomplished or overcome, etc.
        1. In some youth sports leagues, they filmed the kids before and after to show them them how much they’ve improved during the year.
        2. In marriages, they recommend having an “anniversary track record” in which you discuss what you’ve accomplished together, what you’re bickering about, what you’re thinking about, what you’ve done, where you’ve traveled, etc. This will help show both of you how you’ve grown together and what you’ve accomplished
    3. Insight
      1. For insight based moments, you must set it up so that the insights can be reached quickly and by the audience themselves. You must not give the answers away. 
        1. At the beginning of his tenure, the head of Microsoft Azure had his team build an app using Azure. They quickly found out how difficult it was and changed how the database and process was structured
        2. Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) asks open ended questions in Third World countries about where and how they defecate. They don’t force any solutions or insights on the people they question, but their questions spur insights and make it their idea to change their sanitation practices. 
      2. It is far more effective to gain self-insight through action and studying our behaviors than merely studying our thoughts. Action leads to insight far more often than insight leads to action
      3. Great mentors have high standards and push their mentees. They also make sure to provide assurance, direction, and support. This stretches the mentee and leads to self-insight. The purpose of stretching is not success but learning and self-insight
    4. Connectivity
      1. Create shared moments through synchronicity, shared pain, and by showing that what you’re doing really matters
      2. Relationships flourish when the other person responds to us. This takes caring, understanding, and validation. If we want more moments of connection, we need to be more responsive to others
  2. Milestones, Transitions, Peaks, and Pits
    1. People have something called duration neglect – people focus on the best or worst moments and not the duration of them. We must therefore focus on the peaks, troughs, and transitions. This is important for anybody in any type of service industry. Engineer magical moments and much else can be forgotten or forgiven
    2. Focusing on moments means you focus on transitions, milestones, and even pits – dark moments which must be overcome if possible 
    3. Milestones define moments which are reachable and conquerable. They spur people to work hard and should be structured so that people push themselves to reach them quickly and often.
    4. Multiply meaningful milestones so that you have more peak moments along your journey
    5. We must think in moments rather than in goals. This will help us pay appropriate attention to when moments must be special (such as a new employee’s first day). The first day should not be a checklist of bureaucratic principles but a happy day in which you engage them socially, intellectually, and culturally
  3. Other
    1. Great service companies are good in the good times but they really shine in the bad times. When customers complain or when something goes wrong, they go out of their way and over the top to make it right.
      1. Dietz, who designed MRI machines, changed his entire mindset to make the machines fun for kids rather than just trying to make the most powerful MRI machine. For example, he designed them to look like canoes, spaceships, boats, or other sorts of adventures in order to make it fun and memorable for the kids using it, rather than scary and traumatic
    2. In life and in business, first focus on the pits and then focus on the peaks. However, you can’t get into a totally defensive mindset. You have to think forward and create something extraordinary – it won’t just happen on its own. It is human nature to focus on the negatives and try to remedy those but in fact it is far more effective and profitable to focus on getting the neutrals positives and the positives to very positive. Reduce negative variance and increase positive variance
    3. Avoid the “soul sucking aspect of reasonableness.” For these peak moments, reasonableness is not what we’re optimizing for, but rather a meaningful moment.
    4. Creating peaks is difficult as it is usually not anybody’s job but the payoffs are so worth it
    5. Recognition for one’s efforts is the most important motivating factor in a persons life. They must be spontaneous and targeted at specific behaviors
    6. A great way to set manageable goals is to think of it as levels in a game. The first level is very simple and not intimidating and each level after that adds a little bit of difficulty, leading eventually to “boss” level which is a fun destination that you would love to get to
    7. Exposure therapy can help build courage as you do gradual and graduated steps towards what you fear. Knowing how to act in the moment is half the battle – when “x” happens, I will do “y”. The practice must be as close to the real thing as possible it must take courage even though you know it is just practice
    8. Purpose trumps passion

What I got out of it

  1. Focus on transitions and milestones, get rid of the negative variance and increase positive variance, avoid the soul sucking aspect of reasonableness, EPIC