Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Books by Kerry Patterson et al

change anythingChange Anything: The New Science of Personal Success by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switcher. Business Plus. 262 pages. 2011. Audiobook read by Joseph Grenny

This is the latest book by the authors of such best-selling books as Crucial Conversations and Influencer. The authors begin the book by contending that those who follow the science of personal success were more than 1000% percent more successful in making change. There is a code that the reader gets in the book which allows access to a helpful website that includes supplementary information, including videos.

The authors discuss a number of terms that will only be familiar to one who has read the book. One of the first is the “Willpower Trap”, which is when we think we can just “tough it out” on a change. There are a lot of forces acting on us all the time. We are generally blind to those other influences. The problem comes when we rely solely on willpower and ignore other influences.

The goal of this book is to help us to be able to change. The authors bring the concepts from their book Influencer to individual change. They identify crucial moments and vital behaviors. Crucial moments are moments of truth that would lead to the results we want if we could get ourselves to enact the correct behaviors.

Vital behaviors are the rules to follow when temptation pays a visit. Vital behaviors tell us what to do. Their research shows that those who wrote down their change plan were more successful than those who did not.

The authors identify six sources of influence and the tactics that go with each influence. We will look at each of those sources and related tactics next.

Source 1: Love What You Hate

There are five tactics for turning our future into an ally for change. They are:

1. Visit our default future. The life we will live if we continue behaving as we are.

2. Tell the whole vivid story.

3. Use “Value Words”

3. Make it a game.

4. Create a personal motivation statement.

Source 2: Do What You Can’t

There are five tactics:

  • Start with a Skill Scan. When fighting our demons, what skills do we lack?
  • Employ deliberate practice. This is the quickest route to skilling up to a particular challenge.
  • Learn the will skill

Sources 3 and 4: Turn Accomplices into Friends ~ The people around us influence us for both good and ill.

Tactics for these sources of influence are:

1. Know who is a friend and who is an accomplice.

2. Redefine normal

3. Hold a transformation conversation

4. Add new friends

5. Distance yourself from the unwilling

Source 5: Invert the Economy

The tactics for this source of influence are:

1. Use carrots and the threat of losing carrots. Take advantage of “loss aversion”. We are far more motivated to avoid loss than we are to receive an equivalent gain. Placing a higher premium on a loss than a gain is “loss aversion”.

2. Use incentives in moderation and in combination.

3. Reward small wins.

Source 6: Control Your Space

The tactics for this source of influence are:

1. Build fences. These are boundaries we create in our lives. What rules should you set to keep you acting in healthy ways?

2. Manage distance. If you can create a distance between yourself and temptation, do so. What are we doing to keep good things close and bad things distant?

3. Change cues. Visual and other cues help set our mental agenda. They turn things from a want into a need. Are there places we can put up reminders to keep us on track?

4. Engaged your auto pilot. Are there standing commitments that we can make?

5. Use tools. Transform your computer and phone into valuable change allies.

After covering this foundational material, the authors then move into the application section of the book. Reading these case studies helped bring the above material, which some of us struggled with, to life. The application section covered the following categories:

  • Change in the workplace
  • Weight loss and fitness
  • Financial fitness
  • Addictions
  • Relationships

Each case study takes the reader through the sources of influence for that application.  This is a helpful book that will benefit the reader both on and off the job.


influencerInfluencer: The Power to Change Anything by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillian and Al Switzler. McGraw-Hill. 208 pages. 2007.

This book, one of  the “hot” business books where I work, including a multiple day workshop, informal book clubs, etc., was written by the same team brought us the modern day business classic Crucial Conversions: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High in 2002.  John Maxwell is famous for saying “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less”. The authors of this book give us a well written approach to influence that combines strategies that anyone can use to influence people along with examples of how others have influenced major changes. They state that any situation that is driven by human behavior can be changed.  This isn’t necessary a quick or easy read, but a thoughtful book that will provide the reader with valuable take-aways,   – strategies and techniques.

The book is broken into two parts: The Power to Change Anything and Make Change Inevitable. The authors use a few case studies to illustrate each of the six sources of influence. Those sources are:

  • Make the undesirable desirable
  • Harness peer pressure
  • Design rewards and demand accountability
  • Surpass your limits
  • Find strength in numbers
  • Change the environment

A few of the examples or case studies that authors cover in the book are:

  • Eliminating the Guinea worm from villages in Nigeria. Through drinking water, people ingest the larva of the worm. Once the worm reaches adulthood, it bores its way out of the human body, causing great pain.
  • Preventing the spread of HIV in Thailand by influencing the sex workers to insist that their clients ear condoms.
  • Reduce the approximate 100,000 deaths in U.S. hospitals caused by items such as a lack of hand washing.
  • A San Francisco organizations efforts to turn people with significant criminal records into productive citizens.
  • An individual who was trying to lose weight.

Each chapter ends with a helpful summary of the key concepts that were covered in that chapter. For more information on this helpful book, go to

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