This week I’ve been reading The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Health. This book has been highly recommended by many of my internet heroes and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it. This book is jammed packed with some truly inspirational stories that will make you think differently about the moments in your life.
The Heath brothers use stories to highlight the many opportunities we miss in our professional and personal lives to create memorable moments for our colleagues, clients, customers, family and friends.
They encourage the reader to ‘Think in moments’.
Every culture has a set of prescribed moments such as birthdays, weddings and funerals. Essentially these events are giving shape to time - someone at some stage thought we needed to acknowledge these events.
“To ‘Think in moments’ is to recognize where the prose of life needs punctuation.”
Most of the defining moments in our life fit into three main categories.
The peaks like scoring the winning goal or winning some kind of cool award. The pits like the passing of a loved one or being made redundant and The Transitions like your first day of school, starting a new job or the end of a major project.
We are more likely to remember the peaks, pits and transitions of our life rather than all the relatively normal filler in between. As parents, colleagues and friends we have numerous opportunities to invest in moments if we understand what the most memorable moments are made of.
There are four key ingredients that make up memorable moments: Elevation, Insight, Pride and Connection. You don’t need them all but you need at least one.
Moments of Elevation. These are moments that rise above the everyday. Moments that make us feel engaged, joyful, amazed and motivated. To elevate a moment we can do three things, first boost sensory appeal, secondly, raise the stakes and third, break the script.
Think of the last time you went out for a fancy meal, it was a while ago I imagine but did you dress up? We wear special outfits to lots of our most treasured events (graduations + weddings for example). Something special is happening so we should look different. It enhances the experience.
Raising the stakes is to add an element of ‘productive pressure’. Think of the sweaty palms you get before a big job interview or that pep talk you give yourself in the bathroom before you do a major presentation. The pressure adds to the elevation.
Breaking the script changes people's expectations about what is going to happen next.
The book has this great story about the Ritz hotel in Amelia Island, Florida. A guest left their son's favourite soft toy ‘Joshie’ behind. This can be a life or death situation depending on the soft toy in question. Luckily ‘Joshie’ was found by the staff and before sending him back home they took him on his own tour of the hotel, getting photos of him lounging by the pool, getting a massage and even driving a golf cart. When “Joshie” arrived home he had a ring binder full of photos from his vacation. Needless to say his parents were stoked and they wrote a blog about it that went viral. The Ritz broke the script.
Moments of Insight deliver realisations and transformations. These aren’t always positive but they are pivotal. Moments of insight tend to be out of our control, like an AHA moment, but there are still a few ways we can encourage insightful moments.
To “trip over the truth” is to realise something that has been right in front of you the whole time. There is a particularly gross story they use as an example in the book that will be hard to forget.
Moments of Pride are exactly that. Moments that capture us at our best. What we may not recognize straight away is that these are moments of recognition. You got a promotion or won an award. Having your skills noticed by others.
Numerous studies have shown that “appreciation of work done” is one of the top motivating factors for employees. Lack of praise and recognition is a common reason for people to leave their job so it's important for employers to thoughtfully acknowledge their employees whenever they get the chance.
Creating ‘multiple milestones’ is another great way to create moments of pride on the way to achieving a greater goal. Imagine you are trying to learn Spanish for example. If you break that goal down to levels or milestones then you have more ‘peaks’ along the journey. For example:
Level 1: Order a meal in spanish
Level 2: Have a simple conversation in Spanish with a taxi driver.
Level 3: Glance at a Spanish newspaper and understand at least one headline.
Level 4: Follow the action in a spanish cartoon.
Level 5: Read a kindergarten level book in Spanish.
Not only do the milestones give you ‘wins’ along the way to learning the language but those wins encourage you to keep going.
Moments of Connection are all the more powerful because they are shared experiences. They deepen our relationships with others. One way companies can do this is by creating a shared meaning. If everyone in the company is working towards a greater goal then it gives everyone a sense of purpose and allows people to innovate and improvise in achieving that goal.
There is a story about a cleaner at the hospital that noticed a few patients weren’t getting many visitors. He started to take the time to chat to them because the hospital he worked for ‘strived to keep the patients healthy and happy’. By striking up a conversation he was improving that patient's hospital experience, it wasn’t his job but his behaviour contributed to the overall goal for the hospital.
This book has had a real effect on me. The ideas and stories within its pages are so inspiring and thought provoking. This book usually resides in the ‘business’ section of the book store but I think everyone should read it. Especially in these strange times where life feels so limited, we should use these constraints to inspire our own powerful moments.
As always, thanks for your time - it was a long one this week. If you're interested in getting these bulletins straight to your inbox then please sign up using the form below. ~ gracias ~