Flipping a Switch Has Never Been So Complex

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Flipping a Switch Has Never Been So Complex :

A Book Review of Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard 


Change is scary.


As I delve further and further into the world of change, into the idea of it, as I gain a better grasp of the concept, this is one thing I have definitely discovered.  


Change, however, is essential in not only company growth, but also self-growth.  



Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath really digs into the singular person and how they tick, while also expanding the topic to change on a group level.  


“Change is hard because people wear themselves out. And that’s the second surprise about change: What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.” 


When I first was handed Switch I was excited. Its cover is bright colors, and it just looked modern to me. And with a simple title and the image of a light switch, how hard could the idea be? Everyone knows how to turn on a light. The flick of a switch is easy. Oh, was I wrong.  


While the book covers a wide number of topics in the area of change, the overarching lesson is of the Elephant and the Rider. Everyone has these two. The Elephant is known as the emotional side, and the Rider is the rational. These two are in a constant struggle for control, and while the Rider is always fighting for the reins, the Elephant always, eventually, takes the control back.  


The concept used to explain this in the book was when you go on a diet. Your Elephant side wants instant gratification, the chocolate and the junk food. The Rider is the side that knows you need to stick to your diet, to eat healthy things, and to avoid the sweets. This is the side that aims for long-term goals. From this introduction on, the book is divided into three parts: Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant and Shape the Path.  



 “Failing is often the best way to learn, and because of that, early failure is a kind of necessary investment.” 


As you read more and more, the ideas begin to get much more complicated than this. The authors begin to tell you how to get the rider and Elephant to work with each other.  


What makes Switch so dense is the different levels. It teaches the reader about change on the personal, group and world levels.  


One thing that is taught that spans across these groups is setting realistic goals. I know, I know, you’ve already been told something like this a number of times. But the important thing about reachable goals that is taught in this book is that if the goal is too big, the Elephant will exhaust the Rider. Without a few awards along the way, the Elephant won’t allow the Rider control. Exhaustion is something that is very hard to come back from. The fight between the two is a lifelong war, and one goal, a simple battle, is not worth being defeated so wholly over.  



“The problem is this: Often the heart and mind disagree. Fervently.”  


This is not a book you can sit down and read in one sitting. Probably not in two, three, or four. At least, not a book you can read and fully grasp in so short a time.  


The base subject is very simple, something easy enough to digest, but as the added layers are spread on, the idea begins to become a little mind-boggling. 


I know myself, as a young professional, did not fully understand everything I read. I’ll admit that. But, as I read this two, maybe three times, I know that I will learn something new with each read.  


I definitely think this is not a book to miss. While it’s almost unpleasant to read the first time, just because of the extreme amount of ideas, any reader will come away with a new lesson learned.  


“And that’s the first surprise about change: What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.” 


This isn’t the only book written by the authors, Chip and Dan Heath. The brothers are authors of two other New York Times bestsellers; Decisive and Made to Stick. Both are experts on change. Chip is a professor at Standford Graduate School of Business, and Dan is a Senior Fellow at Duke University’s CASE Center.  


You can connect to their website here (http://heathbrothers.com/) 


About the Writer

Baillee Furst is an Administrative and Communications Intern at Your Clear Next Step. She helps with our outreach to young professionals through her writing for our website. Outside of this, she helps with final proofing and data analysis. Baillee is a sophomore at Simpson College, majoring in English and Public relations.