January Read: The Power of Moments
I have absolutely no problem watching TV, YouTube, and films for hours on end, but when it comes to books, I've never been an avid reader. I blame part of this on finding the right book. I do enjoy reading, but I never quite look into what the current Best Sellers are or ask friends for book recommendations, so I usually do what I always do and turn to Netflix and Hulu. This year, I want to prioritize reading and take the time to find what truly interests me. I already have quite a few books on my list, and I'm hoping to read at least one a month. January's read is The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip and Dan Heath.
I was a few chapters into the book Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino (which will be February's read), when the midterm assignment for my Entrepreneurial Marketing class was announced. We were tasked with reading a book of our choice from a designated list, and with a keen interest in the experience economy, event planning, gift giving, and experiential marketing, I was pretty much sold based on the title, The Power of Moments. After reading a few raving reviews, I added the book to my cart, and it was on its way.
My mind was racing when I read, The Power of Moments because I was constantly thinking about how I could apply the stories and way of thinking to my own life. When recalling an experience, we ignore most of what happened and tend to focus on a few key moments. Do our defining moments just happen to us? Perhaps they are a product of fate or luck, but the Heath brothers share that we can be authors of our defining moments. Defining moments are created from moments of elevation, insight, pride, and connection. Why do we remember certain experiences and forget others? As the authors put it, we must "moment-spot" in order to recognize "where the prose of life needs punctuation." Here are the secret ingredients to generating more powerful moments, inspired by Alive with Ideas:
A Sprinkle of Elevation. By breaking the script, we can provide something unexpected and novel. The authors say, "we feel most comfortable when things are certain, but feel most alive when they're not." We can also elevate moments by boosting sensory appeal or raising the stakes. Understanding the need for moments is easy, but executing can be hard. Moments of elevation can either be spontaneous or planned, and in the end they form memorable peaks in our lives.
A Dash of Insight. We are transformed by realization through moments of insight. The authors use the phrase, "trip over the truth" to describe a defining moment that can change the way you see the world in just an instant. This "aha" moment should always happen in the minds of the audience so they can experience the discovery for themselves. Also, you can't stumble when you stand still. We gain insight by stretching, which places ourselves in situations that expose us to the risk of failure. Normalizing failure allows us to feel more comfortable with taking risks.
A Pinch of Pride. Create moments of pride by recognizing others in a way that's authentic and frequent. Small, unpredictable gestures can be far more powerful than you'd expect. Another way we can experience more defining moments is by rethinking how we set goals. In our lives, we tend to declare goals without intervening levels, so "Learn Spanish" becomes a goal that is seemingly unattainable. The corporate style of goal-setting shouldn't infiltrate our lives either. "Losing 10 pounds in 2 months" sounds a lot like "Increase process efficiency by 20% in 6 months." Finally, if we show courage, there's no doubt that it will be contagious and spread to others.
An Ounce of Connection. Moments of connection deepen our relationships with others, and social moments are more memorable because others are present. Bring people together to create shared meaning by uniting people through purpose. Passion is individualistic and it can energize, but also isolate us, while purpose is something people can share, and it can knit groups together. It's important to note that purpose isn't discovered, it's cultivated. By bringing people together and by being responsive in our relationships through understanding, validation, and caring, we can deepen our ties with others.
The Power of Moments is an easy read. It's not groundbreaking by any means, but the use of storytelling by the authors drew me in and made me examine the moments in my personal, academic, and professional life.