Friday, March 04, 2011

Change Anything

I just finished reading an advance copy of Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success by the team at VitalSmarts. They're the ones who brought us Crucial ConversationsCrucial Confrontations, and Influencer, all books I've become convinced are must-reads for clergy. Crucial Confrontations stands out because it teaches skills for 'speaking the truth in love' to those who violate agreed upon expectations - something very important for those of us who lead volunteer-based organizations. Crucial Conversations teaches 'tools for talking when stakes are high,' a relevant skill. Influencer delves into the six sources of influence, an idea that Change Anything applies to personal success.

Change Anything argues that we all fall into the 'willpower trap' which convinces us that if we fail to make a change, then it is all the fault of our faulty wills. No, Patterson, et. al., argue, there are at least six sources of influence that condition our behavior, only one of which is our own personal motivation. If we only have one of the six on our side, then we're outnumbered and should not expect to see positive change happen. If, however, we can demystify the six sources and develop change plans that address them, then we will be much more likely to achieve the change we want.

The six sources comprise of three sources of motivation (personal, social, structural) and three sources of ability (personal, social, structural). Our "wills" are personal motivation. But, they're only one of the six. If we really want to change something, we have to engage the other five. Not too long ago, I decided that I needed to cut back on coffee consumption. One simple change completely removed my will from the equation: I washed and stored my automatic coffee maker. Suddenly, it was easy to consume a reasonable amount of coffee per day. That's an example of the structural ability source of influence at work. Without easy access to large amounts of coffee, my intake dropped without having to fight temptation one bit. Amazing!

Change Anything, due out April 11, 2011, is important for pastors because it gives us a vocabulary to help people change, which is the point of our work. We are called to be stewards of ours and others' sanctification. This little resource goes a long way towards helping us see the insidious ways that the world uses to keep us in its grasp. It also gives us resources to rapidly and effectively change our own behaviors. Whether we need to do more evangelism or keep better track of the church's books, Change Anything will be a good place to start to develop a change plan to make us more effective ministers of the Gospel of Christ. I recommend it, and the other books from VitalSmarts, with no reservations.

I'd love to have a conversation about the theological implications of a book like this - if you're interested, join me in the comments.


Bob Bodily said...

There is also a great website that is made by the same company that came out with the book called Right now they are doing a promotion, and they are giving away free one-year memberships, so if you want to check it out, go to and put your email into “First Time User”. Then you can use the coupon code “hope” to receive a free premium membership.
Just thought you might like to check it out,
Robert B.
p.s. Feel free to distribute this code, as this promotion is for everyone.

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