We made it back to Friday! Congratulations for all you accomplished over the last 5 days. (7 days if you're a weekend warrior.) We have all experienced things this last week that have shaped us and made us more unique. We've learned things, we've probably failed at things, and we've hopefully grown and improved in our growth as individuals. Quick question, can you identify anything specific you learned? Can you identify any particular moments that jump out at you as memorable? Lastly, have you found any way to grow as a result of the world's new powers?

(I bet you found the last one to be a bit harder to discern what I mean, but hopefully by the end of this post it will make more sense.) This is the next post in our Reading For Success series which I run every Friday. (You can read last week's post here, and keep following the trail backwards if you like.) Let's dig into the posts this week and see what we can learn. What's the common concept threaded throughout these three books?

Common Concept: There are certain moments which stand out as unique in our lives, they impact our thinking and they cause us to change our minds about something, usually driven by some powerful current in today's technologically-advanced society.

Look at that, this week I gave you the common concept up front! Let's now look at how I came to this concept through the books read this week.

The Power of Moments

powerful moments and how they impact us

The first book I read this week entitled, The Power of Moments, by Chip & Dan Heath discusses the idea of defining moments, how to recognize them, identify them, and in a business perspective attempt to create them. The authors use some fantastic story-telling to convey their ideas about moments. To begin with here is their definition of a defining moment:

"For the sake of this book, a defining moment is a short experience that is both memorable and meaningful." - The Power Of Moments

Throughout the book we explore the foundational 4 elements identified in a defining moment: Elevation, Insight, Pride, and Connection. Every defining moments consists of one more of these elements. Here's a very brief synopsis of each:

  • Elevation: Defining moments transcend normal events; they are in some form or fashion "extraordinary" in the truest sense of the word.
  • Insight: These moments make us "re-think" our situations or see ourselves and the world differently. That "spark" or "aha" moment.
  • Pride: Defining moments are those times when we are personally proud of an accomplishment or achievement. When we exhibit our ideal character.
  • Connection: Lastly, defining moments are frequently tied to social events or occurrences. They involve others and the relationships we share with them.

These defining moments are not completely serendipitous and with a proper definition and understanding of the recipe and its ingredients it is possible to carefully craft a defining moment. The authors give true stories and real life examples to help enforce each of their points above (both positively and negatively). Overall I found the book to be easy to read and created a defining moment for me (as I assume was the intent).

How to Change Your Mind

The idea of changing your mind and depression

The second book for this week was one that I wasn't immediately drawn to but felt that even faced with the lack of some visceral positive reaction it would be a good "stretch" book for me personally. I'm glad I did. Although perhaps not immediately apparent the core focus of this book will challenge your thinking and encourage you to re-think (or evaluate) your basis for beliefs.

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, by Michael Pollan doesn't have the type of title that just immediately grabs you. In fact, it feels a bit like the author has thrown as many buzzwords as possible into the subtitle for the sake of Amazon search optimization. Regardless, after reading this book I found there were several fascinating thoughts I was able to take away.

The author discusses the use of psychedelics, the misnomers and myths spread about its usage and the resulting mistrust in any useful clinical or medicinal benefits (partly held to this incorrect view of the subject).

Through detailed interviews with scientists focused on revisiting the potential values of psychedelics as a form of therapy for a variety of mental illnesses the case is presented to be entirely possible to reset the mind, and change the way we see the world. Most importantly Pollan challenges himself throughout the book to not make assumptions without facts and to use science to properly set a worldview and to formulate an opinion. Lastly, he encourages the reader to be open-minded about the possibilities of changing your mind.

Changes to consciousness and behavior based on the manipulation and transformation of molecules is possible and understanding this relationship dynamic can teach us about our minds and ultimately how we change our thinking.

Takeaway: After several decades of suppression and neglect, psychedelics are having a renaissance. A new generation of scientists, many of them inspired by their own personal experience of the compounds, are testing their potential to heal mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and addiction. Other scientists are using psychedelics in conjunction with new brain-imaging tools to explore the links between brain and mind, hoping to unravel some of the mysteries of consciousness.
- How to Change Your Mind

New Power

living in a hyperconnected world

The third and final book for this week is entitled New Power, How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected world - and How to Make it Work for You. This book was endorsed by some incredible entrepreneurs and society leaders. To be perfectly honest, it was the foreword by Richard Branson which convinced me to read this one.

As always, we should start with a bit of a definition, the authors define "Old Power" and "New Power" as follows:

  • Old power works like a currency . It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.
  • New power operates differently, like a current . It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

Throughout the book the authors then proceed to offer example after example of successes and failures related to these two approaches to business as well as community. They don't advocate entirely for one approach over the other which is a welcome acknowledgement that one-size doesn't fit all.

Connectors, Crowds, Castles, Cheerleaders

Sometimes a picture (or chart) helps to understand and define things so I'll share two graphics from the book which might lend some aid in forming an understanding of the topics in this book. This matrix-style approach above is carried throughout the book with a variety of axes. Another style of chart employed frequently throughout this book is a comparison graphic as seen below:

Understand old power vs new power

Ultimately I found this book to be an easy one to read and a very insightful one as well. I'd recommend this book for everyone in management either in a business or in a community. The insights and takeaways are invaluable in learning how to better empower and organize people around an idea and use the thinking and culture of today to carry a movement.

Bringing it all together

I'm always surprised (I know you've heard me say that before) how different books which come from completely different sources tend to find a way of working together to help inform my thinking on a particular topic. This week was no different, from a personal study on an individual leading to a book recommendation by Richard Branson, to the well-timed article on Harvard Business Review, to yet another New York Times Best Seller. Inspiration is all around us.

[tweetable]Serendipity is not as happenstance as one might expect, and all it takes is a little thought, a little careful attention to detail, and a little curiosity to explore the world around us with a desire to learn. [/tweetable]