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The Power of Moments

The Power of Moments

by Chip Heath, Dan Heath


1.72K reads


“Transitions should be marked, milestones commemorated, and pits filled. That’s the essence of thinking in moments.”


“Defining moments shape our lives, but we don’t have to wait for them to happen. We can be the authors of them.”

Defining Moments

Defining moments stand out, they influence us, cause us to rethink our direction, re-shape the trajectory of our lives.

We can engineer these moments—or at least create the conditions for them to emerge. To create more and more powerful defining moments,

Research has found that in recalling an experience, we ignore most of what happened and focus instead on a few particular moments.

When people assess an experience, they tend to forget or ignore its length—a phenomenon called “duration neglect.” Instead, t...

Elements That Create Defining Moments

A defining moment must include at least one of these elements—it does not have to include all four.

  • Elevation: They rise above the everyday.
  • Insight: They rewire the way we understand ourselves—or the world.
  • Pride: They...

Three situations constitute natural defining moments and deserve our attention:

  • Transitions seem so natural that they are almost always marked with some sort of “coming of age” rituals: weddings, promotions, the first day of school and the end of projects, etc.

Build Peaks

Peaks don’t emerge naturally. They must be built.                

To elevate a moment, do three things:

  • First, boost sensory appeal.
  • Second, raise the stakes.
  • Third, break the script. (Breaking the script means to violate ...

Moments of elevation lift us above the everyday. Moments of insight spark discoveries about our world and ourselves. Moments of pride capture us at our best—showing courage, earning recognition, conquering challenges.

To produce moments of self-insight, we need to stretch: ...

Moments of Pride

There are three practical principles we can use to create more moments of pride:

  • Recognize others
  • Multiply meaningful milestones;
  • Practice courage.

The first principle creates defining moments for others; the latte...

Hitting a milestone sparks pride. It should also spark a celebration—a moment of elevation. (Don’t forget that milestones, along with pits and transitions, are three natural defining moments that deserve extra attention.) Milestones deserve peaks.

To identify milestones...

Practicing Courage

  • It is hard to be courageous, but it’s easier when you’ve practiced, and when you stand up, others will join you.  
  • Managing fear—the goal of exposure therapy—is a critical part of courage. 
  • Moments, when we display courage, make us proud. We never know when c...

Purpose is defined as the sense that you are contributing to others, that your work has a broader meaning.

Passion is the feeling of excitement or enthusiasm you have for your work.             

Deepen Ties

Responsiveness encompasses three things:

  • Understanding: My partner knows how I see myself and what is important to me.
  • Validation: My partner respects who I am and what I want.
  • Caring

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