WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath

This book is all about defining moments in our lives – the ones that happen by accident, but also ones that we can create for ourselves and for others. These moments can be positive or negative (such as experiences of embarrassment or trauma). The book focuses on recognising and creating moments that create positive emotions – the kind of moments that enrich your life, help you connect with others, make wonderful memories, and can improve the experience of customers, patients and employees.

The authors suggest that a truly meaningful moment has a combination of four elements (although it need not have all of them): elevation (something that rises above the everyday, a memorable delight), insight (rewires our understanding of ourselves or the world), pride (captures us at our best, moments of achievement or courage) and connection (social moments strengthened because we share them with others).

When we assess our experiences, we tend to remember the peaks, the pits and the transitions. Peaks include birthdays, weddings, competing in a sporting event, giving a presentation, performing in a play, a walk on a sunny day with a loved one. Pits include things like dealing with negative feedback, loss of a loved one, illness or loss of employment. Transitions include things like promotions, the first day of school or a new job, the end of a project, and retirement.

The authors explain that pits should be filled, transitions should be marked, and milestones commemorated. However, they point out that many business leaders are good at filling pits, but never get to the next stage – they aspire to create a complaint-free service rather than an extraordinary one. While we tend to obsess about the negatives, research shows that there are greater benefits from elevating the positives.

They give some great examples of how simple things like a popsicle hotline at an average hotel, and funny announcements by flight crew can significantly increase ratings and repeat business, even when pragmatically there are other companies offering higher level products. They show how creating peak moments at schools can have a significant impact on students’ engagement with learning and future success. They also show how we can create our own personal moments to add value and connection to our lives.

This is a very hopeful book, but it’s also pragmatic – it’s not about just sitting around and hoping for the best. It’s about actively seeking out and creating opportunities to experience special moments in our personal and professional lives. The book gave me some ideas to try out with some coaching clients – ways to help them recognise, curate and design some peak moments in their lives. It also reminded me that I can do this for myself and my loved ones!

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