Change or Die: Could You Change When Change Matters Most?

By Alan Deutschman (HarperCollins, 2007)

Change or Die by Alan Deutschman

At the end of his book, Fortune magazine reporter Alan Deutschman makes an apology for the title, which he admits is a bit of a bait and switch. The fearful connotations are meant to grab the potential reader, after which Deutschman can begin arguing the opposite view: Fear doesn’t motivate people to change (at least in the long term); hope does.

Deutschman offers several compelling case studies that illustrate how most lasting changes have three stages in common: The people making the changes relate to others around them and feel responsible for their actions; they learn to repeat new behaviors with the support of their community; and they reframe their problem in different, more empowered terms, which allows them to shift their pattern of thinking. His examples include heart-disease sufferers who transformed their destructive lifestyle habits, as well as hardened ex-cons and addicts who became successful workers and entrepreneurs. Deutschman also clarifies how we can apply these principles to our own lives, from a change of exercise habits to the transformation of an entire industry.

Whether you’re seeking to kick a bad habit or save an ailing organization, these fresh ideas are likely to change your thinking about how change happens — or doesn’t.

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