"CHANGE OR DIE. What if you were given that choice? We're talking actual life and death now. Your own life and death. What if a well-informed, trusted authority figure said you had to make difficult and enduring changes in the way you think, feel, and act? If you didn't, your time would end soon--a lot sooner than it had to. Could you change when change mattered most?"
This is the question Alan Deutschman poses in Change or Die, which began as a sensational cover story by the same title for Fast Company. Deutschman concludes that although we all have the ability to change our behavior, we rarely ever do. In fact, the odds are nine to one that, when faced with the dire need to change, we won't. From patients suffering from heart disease to repeat offenders in the criminal justice system to companies trapped in the mold of unsuccessful business practices, many of us could prevent ominous outcomes by simply changing our mindset.
A powerful book with universal appeal, Change or Die deconstructs and debunks age-old myths about change and empowers us with three critical keys--relate, repeat, and reframe--to help us make important positive changes in our lives. Explaining breakthrough research and progressive ideas from a wide selection of leaders in medicine, science, and business (including Dr. Dean Ornish, Mimi Silbert of the Delancey Street Foundation, Bill Gates, Daniel Boulud, and many others), Deutschman demonstrates how anyone can achieve lasting, revolutionary change.
Change or Die is not about merely reorganizing or restructuring priorities; it's about challenging, inspiring, and helping all of us to make the dramatic transformations necessary in any aspect of life--changes that are positive, attainable, and absolutely vital.
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January 02, 2007
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Excerpt from Change or Die by Alan Deutschman
Case Study: Heart Patients
Richard began smoking when he was a teenager. When he was in his twenties and thirties, he smoked as much as three packs a day. After he suffered a heart attack at the age of thirty-seven, he finally quit the habit--well, at least for a while. He had a second heart attack at forty-three. Following his third heart attack, at forty-seven, he underwent quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery.
Following the operation Richard resumed a lifestyle that worsened his heart condition. He didn't get much exercise. He gained forty pounds. He continued working as a powerful executive, which subjected him to heavy stress and frequent crises. But he was a very lucky man, and his grafts lasted for a dozen years, which was longer than his doctors might have expected. Then, at fifty-nine, Richard was struck by his fourth heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital at four thirty in the morning, and he underwent another operation--this time the surgeons inserted a steel stent to make way for blood to flow through. But the artery clogged up again within three months. Richard felt sharp chest pains, each lasting as long as five minutes. It turned out that the artery was 90 percent blocked. He was taken to the hospital for another medical emergency--"unstable angina"--and surgeons had to redo the procedure. Three months later, his doctors found that he had an irregular heartbeat that could kill him, so they implanted a defibrillator under the skin of his chest--a small electronic device that shocks his heart back to a steady rhythm.
Finally, Richard pursued a healthier lifestyle. It helped that he was a top executive and his organization provided personal chefs who prepared salads for him, doctors who followed him wherever he went, and assistants who hauled his heavy, hulking exercise machine--an "elliptical cross trainer"--onto his private airplane to make sure he could get in his thirty-minute daily workout even when he was traveling around the world, which he often had to do. He was independently wealthy, and he could easily afford to retire to a life of hunting and fishing on his ranch and maybe serving on a few corporate boards. Instead he held onto his job, which had become increasingly stressful. He often responded to the pressure by venting his anger, such as the embarrassing time when he cursed out one of his colleagues in public. When Richard was sixty-three, one of the nation's top cardiologists reviewed his history and said, "It's a testament to medical science that he's alive."
As you may have guessed, Richard's last name is Cheney, he prefers to be called "Dick," and he's worked as the White House chief of staff, secretary of defense, and vice president of the United States.
This chapter is about heart patients and what does--and doesn't--motivate them to change how they live. There are two reasons why I've singled out Cheney from among the sixty-two million Americans who suffer from heart disease. First, I want to talk about how our minds work--how we think about our lives and our world--and politics is a familiar way of introducing a notion that I want to apply to many other topics. That notion is ideology.