“The promise of this book is simple. If you apply the principles and tactics we outline, you can rapidly, profoundly, and sustainably change your own behavior (even long-standing bad habits). And by learning how to change your
own behavior, you can dramatically improve results in most any area of life.” Change Anything begins with this paragraph, “Our Promise.” The main theory behind the book (although there are many sub-theories) is that change is not only about will-power and failure at will-power, but about learning skills to maintain change, which would apply in any other endeavor.
Change Everything tells us the stories of Michael V., who overcame years of alcoholism and addiction; Melanie R., who wanted to place her career on the fast track; Patricia S., who saved her failing marriage, and Michael E., who took off weight and kept it off for years. It also alerts us to others whose business is to distract us from our goals of change, as “When it comes to more routine human activity, such as eating, drinking, interacting with co-workers, and shopping, you could fill a library with books that explain how people are working feverishly to get you to act in ways that bring them billions of dollars in profits while giving you unwanted pounds, a failed liver, divorce and bankruptcy. For instance, did you know that the sound that’s most likely to get your attention is the sound of a baby giggling? A baby giggles, and everyone turns to see. Some experts know this, and they use it to their advantage in advertising.”
Change Anything teaches us to learn about ourselves, since everyone is different; to recognize and focus on crucial, more at risk moments; to view our “default future” (in which our problem is gone); to create a game with our addictions and reward ourselves after achieving small challenges; and how to love what we now hate, for the sake of our health. It offers practical advice about anger control (since too much anger can trigger indulgence); tells us to buy smaller plates (and thus eat less); and to enlist others as coaches and fans in our struggles as opposed to accomplices who may keep us in the same behaviors.
This book also alerts us to the problem of social pressure, as in “scholars at the University of Sydney put subjects into a deep hypnotic state and then asked them to grab a highly venomous snake. Next they asked them to thrust their hand into a vat of acid, and eventually (you won’t believe this), they requested that subjects throw acid into the face of one of the research assistants. Every element of the test was contrived, of course (the ‘venomous’ snake was behind a hidden panel of glass, the ‘acid’ was surreptitiously swapped out for colored water, but looked very real) – and every one of the subjects complied. It was an impressive demonstration of the power of hypnosis. Or so they thought.” (Because no one in the experiment was really hypnotized! These people were just doing what they were told to do, convinced that they were hypnotized!)
Change Anything has my thumbs up as a healthful guide to attempting to change one’s own behavior by eradicating guilt and learning and using repetitive skills that have been proven to help other people. The five authors are the leaders of Vital Smarts, an innovation in corporate training and organizational performance. Their previous four books were immediate New York Times bestsellers. Buy it, read it – and change!
Change Anything – The New Science Of Personal Success, published by Business Plus on 4-11-11, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler, 262 pages.
Reviewed by Christina Zawadiwsky
Christina Zawadiwsky is Ukrainian-American, born in New York City, has a degree in Fine Arts, and is a poet, artist, journalist and TV producer. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Award, two Wisconsin Arts Boards Awards, a Co-Ordinating Council of Literary Magazines Writers Award, and an Art Futures Award, among other honors. She was the originator and producer of Where The Waters Meet, a local TV series created to facilitate the voices of artists of all genres in the media, for which she won two national and twenty local awards, including a Commitment to Community Television Award. She is also a contributing editor to the annual Pushcart Prize Anthology, the recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, and has published four books of poetry. She currently reviews movies for , music for , and books for .