When people ask me, “What the hell are you smoking, Connors?” I know they really mean, “What are you reading?”
Often a first reaction to a counter-intuitive message is to be angry. Kill the messenger! Somebody talk to him, please! Is this guy nuts? That kind of knee-jerk response is validation that the change process is beginning. But for change to be sustainable it requires truth, facts, and ideas. The power of words remains a powerful force in shaping the future.
I selected these five books because they do a great job of challenging us to be critical thinkers; these authors lay out the facts, and offer deep insights and workable solutions to seemingly insurmountable national health problems.
- When we hear something odd about outcomes or data we need to start adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing for ourselves, and see what numbers we come up with. I refer to this practice as “envelope arithmetic.” Al Lewis (book five below) is particularly helpful in showing you how to use fifth-grade math to debunk so much of the false data out there regarding Return on Investment (ROI) reporting.
- If your kids are rewarded at school if they read three books, do they stop there or do they read more than three books? Daniel Pink (book three below) will show you why they would be better off without any reward for reading. It turns out the joy of discovery and the pursuit of knowledge can fully engage us without any rewards. In fact, external incentives destroy that natural instinct to learn. Who knew?
- We need to locate reliable, objective, and accurate sources of medical information and use what the science tells us over “what everyone is doing.” My father used to tell us, “everyone is often wrong.”As you’ll learn from Dr. Otis Webb Brawley (you can call him, Otis − book four below), we need to challenge the thousands of “evidence-based standards of practice” criteria available and ask, “Says who?” And we have to be aware of any potential conflict of interest with the health-care providers diagnosing and treating us. If they benefit financially from a specific course of treatment they recommend, that may disqualify them as being objective. Consciously or not the potential financial gain of the caregiver makes them biased.Otis will show you where the safe, less traveled road can be found. And he will arm you with knowledge that could someday save your life or the life of someone you love.
- And who would have thought that an Emmy Award-winning wildlife photographer, John Paling, PhD (book two below) would come up with a simple visual presentation of risk that has the possibility of changing the way we communicate and decide upon health-care options. That he (a graphic and mathematical genius) would conclude that the riskiest decisions we make in our life are often about our health-care options. Paling will leave you with an audaciously simple way to grasp the risk involved in your health-care decisions.
- We need to talk and visit with more of those we serve− what do they understand, don’t understand, what would they like to see, what troubles do they have, what suggestions? And I mean talk to them in person and listen. Then act in their best interest. Always. No matter what.The most underserved and unhealthy among us need you to be prepared and tough in offering them an environment that makes it safe and easy for them to make good health decisions. Robison and Carrier (book one below) have that personal, frontline experience — and their advice is scientifically solid, intuitive, effective, and compassionate.
Five Books that Can Change the World
Think about what you’re about to do next in your career and life that will leave the world a little bit better. That’s what you want to happen, right?
The five books I’ll be covering include powerful, great ideas, from wonderfully talented and dedicated authors. Their insights, common sense, workable solutions, and rare perspectives make these books fascinating and thought provoking. They bring sanity to a health care and wellness world gone mad.
Here are the five books:
- The Spirit and Science of Holistic Health, More than Broccoli, Jogging, and Bottled Water. . .More Than Yoga, Herbs, and Meditation (2004). By Jon Robison & Karen Carrier.
- Helping Patients Understand Risk, 7 Simple Strategies for Successful Communication (2006). By John Paling, PhD.
- DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (2009). By Daniel H. Pink.
- How We Do Harm, A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America (2011). By Otis Webb Brawley, MD with Paul Goldberg
- Why Nobody Believes the Numbers, Distinguishing Fact From Fiction In Population Health Management (2012). By Al Lewis.
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Shawn is the President and Founder of Hope Health. For over 30 years, his work has focused on bringing clear, easy-to-read, and watch health messages to the public via workplaces. He bills himself as the “Best C+ Student in the Wellness Biz” because, as he says, “I like to challenge the notion that there is no such thing as a stupid question.” Shawn is on a mission to tie workplaces into their surrounding communities to share resources and ideas in an effort to improve the health of all Americans.
You may reach Shawn at sconnors@HopeHealth.com or 800-334-4094.