Book Jam: The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath

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Episode 50 Thursday July 29th The Power of Moments By Chip and Dan Heath

When I was a performing magician, I had a mentor in the art named Brent Braun, a genius of the theories of performing magic. One of the things I learned from him was that in a magic trick, the most important part is that moment of surprise, that moment when your spectator realizes that something impossible has just happened. The entire script, all the words and actions in the entire effect, should be sculpted to bring more power to the magic moment or moments in the effect. As it is known to do, art imitates life. Our lives are just a series of moments remembered – if you think back, you don’t see everything, just the highlights, the bright spots and the tipping points. Can these moments be created specifically and on purpose to be moments that we remember? This is the question answered by brothers Chip and Dan Heath’s book The Power of Moments. 

The Power of Moments explores the defining moments of our lives, questions whether the moments can actually be created, and goes on to answer with dozens of examples of individuals and groups who did that very thing. Through this process, the Heath brothers teach us how we can create our own moments, and all the elements we require to do it. As always I’ve got seven things to give you today. 3 things I learned, 3 things I’m going to change after reading the book, and the 1 most important passage. 

Three things I learned from reading:

1.     The authors’ research found that when we recall an experience, we ignore most of what happened and think about just a few particular moments of that experience. In my own reflection, once I learned this, I realized that it is really the case. I think back to a time I remember, and it’s not as if it’s just bits and pieces. There are some moments and pictures in my mind that lock in the day – like a computer processor only pulling up what it needs to get the job done. If I reflect longer and harder about the experience, I am able to think of a lot more details, but in a quick look back to the event my mind pulls up the same moments, because they were defining moments. 

2.     There are at least three types of moments that need to be addressed in our minds. Transitions, milestones, and pits. Transitions should be marked, milestones commemorated, and pits should be filled. Certain circumstances demand attention. We have these moments of importance for a reason, even if that reason isn’t immediately available to us. It’s good to reflect on them and deal with them  

3.     There are four elements that create defining moments in our lives. These are 

a.     Elevation (The senses are involved and contribute to the experience. Included here are the ideas of breaking the script or changing the normal to make it something special, Raising the stakes – making the defining moment more powerful by adding an element of pressure by competition, a deadline, commitment, or however you can do it)

b.     Insight (a sudden understanding, or finally finding the answer to a pressing question)

c.     Pride – anticipating the moments of pride coming in the future when we accomplish our goals, these defining steps will multiply the moments. 

d.     Connection – practicing courage – if you know you have to do something difficult, practice the courage it will take to do it. Actual practice of courage before the event can help give you the courage during the event. This was used by a group of black students in 1960 who went into whites-only stores and restaurants to peacefully protest. Before the demonstrations, the students had white friends and supporters walk into restaurants in a staged rehearsal, so they could role-play against the anger and hate aroused by their protest. 

Elevation, insight, pride, and connection. Defining moments contain at least one of these elements, and the more elements that a moment contains, the more powerful the defining moment is. I can use these tools to give me insight as to how to create these beautiful moments for people. I will be studying these more and more over time, because I want this power to create. 

Three things I am going to change as a result of reading this book:

1.     I want to recognize others more often, ask about their wins, losses, and transitions and acknowledge them for all of it. When I do this, I could be creating moments that they remember for the rest of their lives – moments they can look back to and get a burst of will during a hard time they may be going through. I realize that I have the power to create meaning and make people’s lives richer and more abundant simply by recognizing these things. I want to work on creating moments for my family and network generating as many genuine moments as I can for the people in my life. “I saw what you did, and I appreciate it.”

2.     I want to Journal and try to get more out of every experience. I can add importance to events and remember more of my life by creating moments for myself. I think that some moments during the day may slip away because they aren’t slowly considered and saved to the hard drive of my mind – and I know that this experience will make me better, stronger, and wiser. I don’t want to lose every day – I want to be able to save my past, and analyze it, and add it to the tapestry of my life to make it more valuable to serve me for the future. I want to extract the essence of smaller moments to find meaning in them, and see if I can’t make them larger, brighter moments in my life. This includes drinker more deeply of times that are already defining moments. 

3.     I want to consider ways that I can break the script – this is an important skill for me to have, and it has the power to dissolve arguments, make people think harder, bring them (and myself) out of the haze and into reality if only for a moment, so that some point can be made that will be beneficial to them or everyone. I view breaking the script as an enormous benefit to my communication skills – a powerful tool to interact in a genuine way.  

The Most Important Passage in the book: “We can be the designers of moments that deliver elevation and insight and pride and connection. These extraordinary minutes and hours and days – they are what make life meaningful. And they are ours to create.” 

If you are a leader in any capacity – supervisor, parent, speaker, and more – it is my duty to recommend this book to you so that you can create moments for all the people who lean on you. It’s so packed with valuable information that I couldn’t cover in this episode, you will be armed with tools you can use for your entire life. This wasn’t a book about personal development as it was about psychology, social issues, and behavioral economics – but I found so many ideas in the book that I couldn’t neglect to include it in my Thursday series. 

This week, in your journal, write down three moments that defined your life – do this by starting with a major experience in your life, look inside that for the few moments your brain pulls up to define that entire event. Then answer why your brain chose those small moments to save as the defining ones. If you’re feeling brave, let’s talk about this stuff in the Ideas and Concepts group on Facebook, the link is in the show notes. I will be here every Monday and Thursday until I can do a magic show without someone asking me if I can make their wife disappear.  

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