The Power of Moments – by Chip & Dan Heath

The Power of Moments – by Chip & Dan Heath

‘Why certain experiences have extraordinary impact’


Chip & Dan have done it again! We read and reviewed their book ‘Switch’ back in 2017 and it was phenomenal. Now, we’ve had a crack at their latest book ‘The Power of Moments’ and they’re delivering the goods.

Have you ever wondered why some experiences stand out in your memory much more strongly that others? The Heath Brothers have cracked the code: Elevation, Insight, Pride, Connection.


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Here is a dot point summary of the book!

Why certain experiences have extraordinary impact


Ch1 – Defining moments

  • We all have defining moments in our lives – experiences that stand out in our memory. Many owe a great deal to chance
  • A lucky encounter becomes the love of your life
  • A new teacher who spots a talent you never know you had
  • A sudden loss that upends the certainties of your life
  • These moments seem to be the product of fate or luck or maybe a higher powers interventions, we cant control them
  • But is that true?
  • Defining moments shape our lives, but we don’t have to wait for them – we can be the authors of them


Book has two goals

  1. Examine defining moments and identify the traits they have in common
  2. How to create moments by making use of those elements – to enrich your life


Why do we remember certain experiences and forget others?

Visit to Disneyland

9am – cattle herding kids out of your room Rating 6

11am – Dopamine rush after roller coaster Rating 10

Noon – Enjoying expensive food with kids   Rating 7

1pm – Waiting in line for 45 minutes Rating 3


  • Average of all these is a 6.5 a pretty good day
  • But psychologists say that if you look back at the day, you will remember it being a 9!


Similar to ‘U index’ in thinking fast and slow


  • When people assess an experience they forget its length, a phenomon called ‘duration neglect’
  • They remember the experience on 1’the best or worst moment’ (peak) and 2 the end
  • Psychologists call it the peak end rule
  • When we assess our experiences , we don’t average our minute by minute sensations, rather we tend to remember the flagship moments, the peaks, pits and transitions


  • Great service experiences are mostly forgettable and occasionally remarkable


Defining moments are created from

Elevation – rise above the everyday

Insight – defining moments rewire our understanding of ourselves to the world

Pride – moments of achievement

Connection – weddings, graduations, baptisms



Ch 2 – thinking in moments

  • Spot moments that are worthy of great investment
  • Must understand when special moments are needed
  • Look for opportunities



Promotions, first day of school, end of projects



Retirement, unheralded achievements



Dealing with negative feedback, loss of loved ones


moments of elevation

  • Experiences to rise above the everyday
  • Make us feel engaged, joyful, amazed, motivated, they are peaks
  • Bday parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs


How to create moments of elevation?

  • We can redesign to make it more memorable


Ch3 – Build peaks



How to build peaks?

To elevate , you need 3 things

  1. Boost sensory appeal – turn up the volume. Music taste smell (wedding flowers)
  2. Raise the stakes


Number 3 requires special attention

  1. Break the script – do something different, something memorable is happening
  • Speed bumps are reasonable. Mount Everist is not
  • One reason it is hard to build a peak is because it is no ones job  to do it and it is a hassle and never urgent
  • This is a great trap of life, one day rolls into the next, and a year goes by, and we still haven’t had that conversation we need to have. Still haven’t seen the northern lights. We walk flatland when it could have been a mountain range

Beware the soul sucking force of reasonableness


Ch4 – Break the script

  • Breaking the script isn’t just about surprise, but strategic surprise



Most of our vive memories happen to us between 18 and 30 when most big effects occur

  • The reason we remember this age the most is because it is a time for firsts
  • Studies show fear makes time expand out
  • One way to live a longer life is to scare the hell out of yourself
  • This is an intuitive explanation to the reason why time accelerates as we get older
  • Variety is the spice of life
  • Learn to recognise your own scripts, play with them, poke them, push them


Most memorable parts of our lives occur when we break the script


moments of insight



In 2016 , 1 billion people lack access to clean water, and a billion, most likely of the same people defecate outside also near the same people

Open defication has dire consequences


Everyone thought it was become they didn’t have enough toilets there

The development organisations thought it was a hardware problem, if we distribute enough latrines we will solve it

But the Bangladeshies were saying “are you sure I should shit in that structure… that is even better than my house?”


A facilitator of a program came in and intervened “mind if I look around and ask some questions?”

  • He lead villages from one side of the village to the other

He stopped, and asked “where do people shit?”

Everyone was embarrassed and trying to get him to move on

Pointed to one , and said whose is this?

Why is this yellow?

He pulled out some of his hair and wiped shit on it, and said what is in my hand?

He went to pass it around but they refused, why do you refuse!


“How many legs does a fly have?”

6 – so flies pick up more shit than my hair

And where do flies go? (water and food)

Do you ever see flies on your food?

What are you doing?


Disgust is the number one trigger


Moments of insight deliver realisations and transformations, discovered by the audience itself


Trip over the truth

  • For some it is a moment of disgust,  embarrassment, shame
  • Ex cult members find a specific moment when their bubble burst


  • The trip is to catch ones foot on something and stumble
  • What is it that your brain catches onto?


Stretch for insight – and expose ourselves to the risk of failure

  • Self insight rarely comes from staying in our heads
  • Research suggests that reflection or ruminating on our thoughts and feelings is ineffectual
  • Studying our own behaviour is more fruitful
  • Better to take a risk, try something and distill the answer from experience
  • Action leads to insight more often and leads to action


  • Mentors can help you stretch for insight
  • Formula for mentorship:
  • High standards + assurance + direction and support = enhanced self insight
  • A mentors push leads to a stretch which creates insight
  • The mentor must expose the mentee to risk


moments of pride


– Capture us at our best

  • Recipe, hard work, time and as a result you get more talented and accomplish more


Regardless of how skilled we are, its having our skill noticed by others that creates the pride

  • Peoples proudest moments are acts of courage


Three principles for moments of pride

Ch 7 –  Principle 1 : recognise others

  • A few minutes can change a life
  • How easy is it to recognise peoples hard good work?
  • Needs to be spontaneous, not part of a regular feedback session


Expressing gratitude pleases the recipient with praise:


Task is to write a letter of gratitude to an individual and deliver it in person. This letter should be concrete and about 300 words – be specific about the other person and how it affected your life. Mention what you are doing now and mention how you often remember what she did


Researches suggest if you conduct a gratitude visit you feel a rush of happiness afterwards

Huge spike afterwards


If you knew you could make a positive difference in someones life, that you could create a memory for them that would last for years – and it would take a trivial amount of time on your behalf – would you?


Ch 8 –  Principle 2 : Multiply milestones

  • Cannot be ambiguous
  • Have levels


Example most people say – ‘learn Spanish’

Level 1 – order a meal in Spanish

Level 2 – Have a simple conversation in Spanish

L3 – Glance at a paper and understand the headline

L4 – Follow the action in a cartoon

L 5 Read a kindergarten book in Spanish


Businesses shouldn’t let employees wait 5 years 

  • They should have intermediate

When it happens – they should play rock and roll and blast out champaigne


  • You can also surface milestones that usually go unnoticed


Ch9  Principle 3 : practice courage

  • John Lewis, Angela Butler and Diane Nash filled into stores in Nashville in 1960 and sat in whites only pubs
  • We feel pride after we commit moments of courage
  • You can’t manufacture moments of courage. But you can practice courage so when the moment demands you will be ready
  • The bad news is that is our natural instinct to cave into everyone else’s opinion
  • The good news is if one person is courageous enough to defy the majority we are emboldened
  • Think about it – your defining moment might be a defining moment for someone else


moments of connection

  • Moments of connection bond us with others, we feel warmth , unity , empathy and validation


Can by

  1. Creating a synchronised moment
  2. Inviting shared struggle
  3. Connecting to meaning


Ch10 – Create shared meaning

  • Highlighting the mission that binds us together and supersedes our differences
  • The bonding that emerges after people struggle together

Turkey protests



Ch11 – deepen ties


Responsiveness is the key

  • We hate being treated impersonally, you are not special, you are a number


  • Challenge
  • Sometime in the next week, when you are having a conversation with a friend or family, push further than small talk
  • Share something real. Like a challenge or struggle you are facing
  • Make yourself vulnerable and your partner will reciprocate, allowing you to take the conversation to a higher level



Ch 12 – Making moments matter


Kasten – was working for a well respected consulting firm

Dressed in smart attire, well tailored and polished. She stuck at it for a while and was doing OK. Looked at her boss who had great enthusiasm. At occurred to Kasten that the woman was doing the exact same job she would be doing one day if she advanced in the firm

  • She got punched in the face. If that is what success looks like – I don’t want it
  • She is energised about what she is saying, but it bores me to death
  • At that moment she knew she had to quit her job


Suresh Mistry was working as an assistant manager at Lloyd Bank in London

  • She collected out of orders and dealt in 10,000 pounds
  • Her manager dealt in 100,000 pounds
  • The next level collected out of orders in 1 million pounds
  • She applied for a new job in a week and has been enjoying it for 20 years


When we read the stories in the book they seem like Eureka moments

But really they are not just sudden realisations, but moments about action

  • These people were not receiving a moment – they were seizing it



2 lightning bolt moments changed her life

  • The moment came, she acted, and it changed her life. Now her life is different


Clinic 1 – buying a house , missed moments of banks page 37


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