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The Power of Moments - Book Review

1 April 2018
Dr. Moria Levy
book cover

The book "The Power of Moments" was authored by the Heath brothers, Dan and Chip, in 2017. Similar to their previous works, this book showcases eloquent writing and offers practical relevance, making it applicable to all of us. The book's central theme revolves around these pivotal "moments" and their remarkable capacity to initiate significant change, transcending the ordinary occurrences that come before and after them.


The book explores the following subjects:

-   Introduction

-   Moments

-   Moments of Elation

-   Constructing Highlights

-   Breaking the Routine

-   Moments of Inspiration

-   Confronting Reality

-   Pushing Our Limits

-   Moments of Honor

-   Showing Respect to Others

-   Amplifying Milestones

-   Practicing Courage

-   Facilitating Swift Connection Changes

-   Creating Shared Significance

-   Deepening Connections


Ultimately, a common thread runs through all of these moments, linking them not only to the experience itself but also to our proactive actions. Taking action is essential, and it is revealed to be immensely rewarding.


I highly recommend this book, both reading and taking subsequent actions. Enjoy your reading journey!




Moments are abundant. When we refer to moments within the context of this book, we are talking about distinct junctures in time that hold value and deserve investment. These moments have the potential to linger in our memory for an extended duration and are emotionally cherished. The foundational principle of this book is encapsulated in the phrase "Think in moments." This signifies the importance of contemplating how to identify and potentially engineer these instances. Naturally, once such moments exist, optimizing them is essential, both for our benefit and those in our proximity. This notion is not groundbreaking. Across various cultures, we encounter rites of passage that involve the creation of meaningful moments. Universal occasions such as birthdays, workplace festivities, and personal commemorations mark moments of significance and value in our lives.


Examples of such moments are the inaugural ones: birth, the commencement of employment, the onset of each week or month, and more. They hold profound importance and have a more substantial impact than the subsequent moments. Milestones like graduations carry similar weight for us: the culmination of academic pursuits, the conclusion of projects, and the attainment of new skills. However, there also exist numerous interstitial moments, albeit less overtly emphasized. These moments encompass a spectrum of positivity and negativity, including instances of crisis that constitute low points. These moments deserve acknowledgment rather than dismissal.


The book:

1. Emphasizes the significance of moments across personal, familial, social, and organizational domains.

2. Educates readers on recognizing or crafting such moments.

3. Explains how to empower the impact of these moments.

4. Utilizes these moments to their fullest potential, fostering enduring change, comprehension, or creation.


Moments of Elation

Constructing Highlights

Creating highlights results in an experience that surpasses expectations. This encounter can pertain to our involvement or a customer's. The pinnacle of this experience arises from a delightful surprise. A prerequisite for achieving this is that the other aspects of treatment, service, or engagement are, at the very least, satisfactory. When a customer is apprehensive or uneasy, bestowing them a climactic moment becomes challenging. However, it's optional to resolve every single issue. According to the study cited by the authors, investing in a joyous peak moment yields a nine times more effective impact than routine troubleshooting and resolution.


Illustrations of these highlights include:


-   In history education, orchestrating a mock trial where students assume the roles of historical figures and conduct a test based on a studied topic. This event can involve external participants like parents.

-   A hotel that offers the convenience of ordering a lollipop while relaxing at the pool. The treat is then elegantly served by a waiter donning white gloves, presented on a small, circular tray.


Certain activities inherently possess highlights, while others might appear lengthy and monotonous. Hence, it becomes essential to strategize how to create and complement these highlights. But how does one go about constructing a pivotal moment? This entails tending to at least two out of the following three elements:


-   Amplifying sensory allure: Inviting individuals attired in finery, prioritizing gracious hospitality, adorning the environment with flowers, and more.

-   Elevating the stakes: Introducing an element of tension relevant to the subject, such as competition, commitment, or a time-bound objective.

-   Crafting an element of surprise: For instance, consider the opening line of a book: "I've been granted a blessing. I was informed that I had a mere three months to live" (a genuine opening).


These highlights serve as opportunities for experiences that imprint positive and meaningful memories. Naturally, it's essential to infuse them with content deserving of remembrance.


Breaking the Routine

Disrupting the usual pattern involves taking unexpected actions. The introductory scenario of this chapter centers around a child who accidentally left behind a cherished stuffed animal, a giraffe, at the Ritz hotel during their stay. The father requested that the hotel send the doll back home to comfort his young child. In a humorous and unconventional move, he suggested including a photocopy of the doll enjoying its stay at the hotel to reassure the child that the giraffe would continue its vacation. In a delightful twist, the hotel dispatched the doll with a courier. However, they went above and beyond, documenting the giraffe's "vacation" with dozens of photographs taken in various hotel locations—poolside, in the lounge, and more. Each image was accompanied by captions indicating the giraffe's apparent enjoyment of its extended stay. This act was far from expected, diverging from routine procedures. Yet, the unexpected experience it offered held immense value, not only for the child and their family but also for all those who became privy to this heartwarming story (particularly in the age of social media, where such narratives tend to go viral).


As far back as the 1970s, service research defined the concept of breaking routines. It refers to behavior that deviates from the anticipated, stereotypical actions. Breaking a routine involves more than just causing a surprise; it's a strategic surprise. This strategic disruption aids in the creation of joyous moments. Moreover, as the authors emphasized, during organizational change management, breaking routines becomes pivotal to restrict the "before" from the "after."


Essential Components:

1. Familiarize oneself with the established routine and the associated expected behaviors.

2. Determine where it's prudent and appropriate to introduce a departure from the norm.

3. Strike a balance between adhering to routine and implementing instances of "breaking." It's recommended that disruptions occur in a manner that appears serendipitous (otherwise, non-routine occurrences could become routine).


Undoubtedly, no simple formula determines the optimal instances and methods of breaking routines. Nonetheless, according to the authors, the effort invested in this pursuit holds remarkable value.



Moments of Inspiration

Confronting Reality

Moments of inspiration facilitate immediate understanding of matters and prompt subsequent change aligned with that newfound comprehension. The phrase "When reality strikes in the face" is intended to capture an emotional encounter that serves as an inspiration. In this crystallized instant, what could have been conveyed through an extensive explanation becomes vividly apparent, even if we had initially resisted recognizing it. This revelation is something that individuals must undergo firsthand. The moment of epiphany, the "aha!" moment, should remain within the individual's grasp, even if external influences nudged or guided them toward the necessary realization.


Instances of such revelations encompass:

-   Realizing that one's current career path needs to be aligned due to specific successes or failures.

-   Recognizing anticipated outcomes from organizational or technological investments will still need to be fulfilled.


Three essential components characterize these moments:

-   Clear and profound insight.

-   Occurring within a restricted timeframe.

-   Driven by the individual.


It's often imperative to initially engage with the problem to attain such a moment. Hastily pursuing a solution can bypass the nuanced process of enlightenment.


At times, life leaves no alternative. Confronting reality, even if it's uncomfortable, becomes a prerequisite for experiencing these enlightening and refined moments of comprehension. The aim is not to seek out unpleasant encounters but, when they arise, to harness them constructively—extracting positivity as much as feasible.



Pushing Our Limits

Some moments exist that do not necessarily emerge from straightforward or pleasant circumstances yet give rise to points of enlightenment and comprehension. This pertains to the self-enlightenment that ensues from our positioning within situations that expose us to the potential of failure. Such a transformative process can occur in solitude or with the guidance of a coach or mentor. While mentors have a stake in this process, it's equally applicable for parents and any other influential figure who accompanies an individual and aims to aid their progress.


How does one encourage another to propel themselves forward? This is achieved through four essential elements:

1. Establishing lofty standards of expectations.

2. Instilling a sense of self-assurance in the capability to meet those standards.

3. Providing a sense of purpose.

4. Offering support during implementation.


For instance, consider a scenario where a teacher offers a constructive critique on a test while concurrently affirming the student's intelligence and potential for growth in that direction. Subsequent guidance and support contribute to the realization of this progress.


It's crucial to recognize that urging someone to push their boundaries entails exposing them to risks and nudging them beyond their comfort zone. This process is more involved for the motivator or the individual being motivated. Furthermore, encouraging someone doesn't guarantee their immediate success; however, it does guarantee learning. Consequently, this dynamic generates moments of inspiration and self-awareness. These moments pave the way for an individual's progress toward realizing their inherent potential.



Moments of Honor

Showing Respect to Others

Following chapters that explore moments that are not always straightforward or pleasant, the subsequent focus shifts to moments of honor. These instances occur during the positive peaks of our lives, evoking joy and contentment. Skillfully constructing these moments amplifies their impact significantly.


Respecting others manifests in numerous ways, but offering genuine recognition is the simplest and most impactful method.


Illustrations of this include:

-   A manager who takes a moment to acknowledge an employee's exceptional approach to customer service.

-   Children within an organization that has received donations take the time to craft handwritten thank-you notes explaining their happiness.


Guiding Principles:

•   Recognition should be personalized rather than structural (structural examples could involve reaching sales targets).

•   It should be spontaneous rather than tied to an annual or periodic evaluation system.

•   Authenticity in the expression is paramount.

•   The frequency of recognition should be ample (preferably weekly rather than annually).


The authors deliberate on whether it's appropriate for school principals and parents to implement practices of respecting others. On one hand, it's undoubtedly positive; however, executing this in a manner that preserves authenticity is crucial.


Individuals tend to remember instances of recognition they've received far more vividly than those offering the recognition recall and certainly more than the individuals giving it would expect. These moments hold substantial value.



Amplifying Milestones

In the preceding chapters, the monotonous and unvaried path that often leaves us fatigued has been addressed. One of the suggestions proposed is the creation of new, supplementary, and even multiple milestones. These milestones introduce a noteworthy challenge (such as weight loss) and establish moments of pause amid ongoing activities. These milestones must be set in advance as they provide a local yet significant destination to aspire toward.


Milestones need not adhere to round numerical values, although there are occasions when this can be advantageous. For instance, one might celebrate a century at work while simultaneously acknowledging a shift in effort within a running training regimen (e.g., W3D5 – denoting the third week, Thursday – a milestone involving increased effort). These milestones should be such that their accomplishment genuinely warrants celebration—not too trivial or overly simplistic achievements. They ought to symbolize the attainment of a meaningful objective, as exemplified by progress through different belts in various martial arts.


Upon reaching these milestones, whether they were established by us or have become part of our routine (such as celebrating a decade of marriage), it's recommended that we leverage them to create moments of honor. This involves sharing reflections on the accomplishments associated with the milestones and commemorating them. This focused examination of progress yields valuable outcomes: moments etched in memory, experiences to be cherished, and considerable mental fortitude to persevere through our daily routines.


The authors express their reservations concerning recognizing and accepting milestones within business organizations. They advocate for brief, targeted objectives that can indeed be accomplished. A well-constructed milestone encompasses two key components:

•   A clearly defined goal that fuels motivation for its attainment.

•   An actionable execution plan.


When formulating milestones, the core query revolves around articulating well-defined, focused objectives that evoke a motivational pull toward their fulfillment.


Commemorative milestones instigate transcendence, serving as a highlight in one's journey. Here's a supplementary piece of advice: The conclusion of a milestone should segue into the initiation of the next one. This sequential progression enables the creation of an extensive pathway or intricate process, complete with achievements that might otherwise seem daunting or unattainable.



Practicing Courage

Creating substantial change often necessitates courage. The courage to go against the prevailing current, the courage to voice dissent, and the courage to behave divergently. One instance of resolute courage might not mark a complete transformation but can be a pivotal juncture. The defiance of African Americans during the bus sit-ins exemplifies such a transformative turning point.


But how does one arrive at such a moment? Naturally, a catalyst is essential—there must be reason and necessity. Timing, too, plays an indispensable role. In conjunction with all these elements, the authors advocate for an additional component: preparation. Countless turning points that have left an indelible mark had individuals working diligently behind the scenes, honing their ability to assert themselves and embrace risk.


Preparation involves:

1. Gradually overcoming fear.

2. Formulating an action plan encompassing plausible scenarios and coping strategies.

3. Simulating genuine situations with the assistance of friends.

4. Establishing a network of supportive individuals. Often, a single source of support can provide the impetus needed to muster the courage to take a stand.


Preparation is worthwhile as to the moment's significance and the potential of that moment to herald a turning point with substantial implications.



Facilitating Swift Connection Changes

Creating Shared Significance

Up to this point, the book has primarily focused on the individual's personal experiences in various moments. Occasionally, these experiences are shared by multiple individuals, but the emphasis lies in impacting each present person uniquely. The ensuing chapters delve into moments that revolve around the interplay between individuals—moments capable of wielding a substantial influence on relationships and fortifying them.


The inaugural category of these moments, crucial to relationship dynamics, involves instances where two or a group of people jointly forge shared significance about their connection. This forms the bedrock of outdoor activities organized by institutions—a collective encounter for employees centered around a standard value, fostering stronger bonds between coworkers, individuals, and the organization. Such moments encompass:

• Establishing a mutual sense of purpose.

• Temporal synchronization, with individuals being physically together.

• Conjointly embracing the efforts experienced within the context of this shared significance.


Indeed, a shared meaning contributes even more significantly to success than a mere passion for work (naturally, both factors synergize to achieve resounding success).


The authors are aware of the tendency for organizations to defer the implementation of such activities due to their costs and operational complexities. Nevertheless, they encourage us to persevere and undertake these efforts, ensuring the return on investment will be rewarding. Uniting individuals around a mission greater than themselves yields remarkable outcomes.




Deepening Connections

At times, individuals find themselves in long-standing, unchanging relationships that remain static despite the passage of many years. Such connections fail to deepen over time, remaining frozen in the state in which they were initially formed. Even in these situations, it remains possible to engineer moments that facilitate a profound and almost instantaneous bond deepening.


Why might we seek to achieve this? The rationale lies in the influence of context. Moments harboring the potential for transformative change and profound relationship growth are those in which the other person perceives that we are genuinely attuned to them (in professional terms, this is referred to as perceived partner responsiveness). This form of attentiveness comprises three key elements:

•   Understanding: Grasping the individual's perspective, being sensitive to their self-perception and priorities.

•   Validation: Respecting the individual for who they are and what they aspire to.

•   Caring: Taking proactive steps to support the individual's pursuits and their capacity to attain what holds significance for them.


An example from the book involves teachers visiting their students' homes. This seemingly small act brought about transformative change years later, rescuing the school from a state of decline. The absence of formal records marked the approach to these home visits; teachers were directed to express interest in the parents, understand what was important to them and their children, and consider how they could assist. These visits yielded a swifter and more significant impact than anyone could have foreseen.


Instances of service-related processes offer classic opportunities to demonstrate genuine attentiveness (e.g., addressing lost luggage). These are scenarios where frustration can be turned into a positive experience.


A noteworthy tip: At times, attentive individuals sharing personal anecdotes and authentic stories about themselves can foster openness in others. However, this self-disclosure should always be rooted in the context of the needs of others and not isolated from their concerns (after all, where would the attention be otherwise?).

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