Switch

I like to read “business books”. Especially when I travel I find it stimulating to read books from outside my usual field as I register the new impressions I get from new airports and new cities or countries.

One of the books I picked up at an airport a few months ago was “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath. Subtitled “How to change things when change is hard”, the book gave me a lot to think about as a doctor, whose job often involves trying to cause my patients to change for the purpose of achieving better health.

The three steps to consider when asking someone, even yourself, to change are described, metaphorically as:

1.) Direct the rider. This is what we doctors usually try to do when we tell our patients to eat less, exercise more or take their pills every day.

2.) Motivate the elephant. This is harder, because it involves addressing the subconscious, which cares very little about things like logic or what’s best for us.

3.) Shape the path. If we make it easier somehow to do the “right” thing than the “wrong” thing, people are more likely to do it.

The book has illustrations from all walks of life, from health care to teaching to sales. And, after all, practicing medicine is part teaching and part sales, too.

Switch | HeathBrothers.

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