Make the “Switch”

Switch is the title of a new book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, with the subtitle, “How to Change Things When Change is Hard.”    The book is full of real-life stories of how organizations, communities, and even social problems can CHANGE — and the approach they have in common. Since the Feldenkrais Method teaches, in part, how to create conditions so that positive change can occur in and for individuals, I was curious to see what the Heath brothers had to say about change on a personal level. Interestingly, three of their suggestions struck me as being particularly in alignment with the Method.

1.  Find the Bright Spots. When we want to change something, it’s usually because we have identified a problem. It’s a problem because there is a “trend line” that represents the overall state of affairs.  We focus on the trend line because it is strong, and — a trend. However, every trend line also has outliers.  Researchers  will usually remove the outliers, considering them to be statistical anomalies. However, the Heaths believe these outliers have something to teach us.  If you focus on the problem, it gets bigger and more complex.  To focus on a bright spot means to find what is working well, having a positive result, going the right direction.  hen you can feel confident that by emulating their success tactics, you can begin to get a handle on making a change.  The Feldenkrais Method helps to build awareness of your own “bright spots.”

2.  Shrink the change.  In the Feldenkrais Method, we often talk about finding “the smallest difference that will make a difference.”  Systems Theory is known, but not widely applied.  If you change one element within a system, everything else will change, too.  You don’t have to make a drastic change.  Just a small change sets in motion a process throughout the system.

3.  Tweak the environment.  create the conditions.  If you play the guitar but can’t find enough time to practice, do what Shawn Achor did.   He put his guitar into the case and into a closet whenever he finished playing.  He noticed that he rarely took the time to unpack the guitar.  He changed the environment.  When he left the guitar out of the case, and easily accessible in his living room, he found that he played his guitar almost every day for the next month!  He created the conditions so that he could do MORE of what he wanted to be doing.  You can, too.  For example a friend recently  re-arranged her workspace so that the paper is near the printer.   It seems obvious, and yet this simple “tweak” improved her efficiency and her comfort.  The Feldenkrais Method is full of  personal ergonomic improvements, as well as powerful neurological changes to improve the connection and communication between your brain and body.

The biggest “Switch” seems to be to choose to do more of “what works,” and less of what doesn’t.  The wisdom to know the difference is gained through awareness.

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One thought on “Make the “Switch”

  1. Nice blog, Mary Beth.

    Thanks for making the connections and finding the Bright Spots.

    I particularly appreciate the timing of your review: A trainee was reading this book yesterday. Before that, I didn’t know that the Heath brothers had published a new book. I liked their previous one about making ideas s-t-i-c-k-y.

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