The co-authors (Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler) have probably been collaborating on the core concepts, values, and principles of what they characterize as “the new science of personal success” since before their first book, Crucial Conversations, was published in 2002. They then co-authored Crucial Confrontations (2004), Influencer (20o7), and now Change Anything. Each of these books is a brilliant achievement on its own merits but I highly recommend that all four be read.
In this, their latest collaboration, they develop in much greater depth six concepts of influence that operate in pairs within three separate but interdependent domains: personal motivation and personal mobility, social motivation and social ability, and structural motivation and structural ability. As I read Part I in which the six influences are introduced, I thought about the life and career of Mohandas Gandhi who achieved specific goals in all three domains: his own development as a leader, creating a critical mass of support for the non-violent campaign to achieve independence for India, and the structural transformation of the British Commonwealth.
The co-authors rigorously examine each of the six influences in Part II and explain how to
• Disarm impulses and make the right choices pleasurable
• Obtain the knowledge and develop the skills needed to be a change agent
• Turn negative “accomplices” (i.e. enablers of negativism) into positive co-creators
• Devise incentives/rewards/punishments to increase desirable behavior
• Create an environment within which to nourish and support positive change
Then in Part III, the co-authors explain how those who have become “Skillful Changers” can get unstuck at work, lose weight and get fit (and stay that way), get (and remain) out of debt, “take back” their lives, and improve their relationships with others by making necessary changes in themselves.
Here are my takeaways from this book.
1. To paraphrase Henry Ford, “Whether you think this book can or can’t help you to make the changes that you want to make in your life, you’re probably right.”
2. The “new science of personal success” offers order and structure to change initiatives” but it does not – because it cannot – provide an express lane to your personal growth and professional development. How determined are you to develop the skills needed?
3. Willpower is not enough, however. It is imperative to recognize, understand, and then manage the six sources of influence on individual judgment (yours and each other person’s) and on groups of individuals.
4. With all due respect to the “new science of personal success,” I think it should be said that much of what Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler recommend in this book – and in the others they’re written together – is simply good (if not always common) sense. For example, cultivate positive thoughts and feelings by eliminating all sources of negativism in your life, human or otherwise.
I doubt if those who read this book will be able to change everything. However, I am certain that the knowledge they receive from Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler will prepare them well to make better decisions, to accomplish more when acting upon those decisions, and meanwhile, to become happier and healthier in all areas of their lives.