The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I listened to this whole book in almost one sitting while making a long drive, and it was both entertaining and informative. At first I was somewhat put off by the behavioristic nature being discussed, as if it was news that monkeys and rats can be conditioned by rewards. Indeed this form of "learning" is the oldest method that has long be debunked as the least effective in formal education! However, by the end of the book and in that final (and beautiful) section about William James, I realized this book was more about how understanding the power of habit can bring new forms of agency, control, and freedom in our lives.
Duhigg discusses how habits are formed in individuals, then companies, and finally in societies. The first two made lots of sense, the final one felt a bit like a stretch but I can see what he was going after. So here is the framework (see lots of good review materials at http://charlesduhigg.com/additional-r...)
• Identify the routine
• Experiment with rewards
• Isolate the cue
• Have a plan
He tells loads of stories, which if I was simply reading this book and not listening to it I admit might have turned me off. The stories include P&G with Fabreeze as they learn about craving, Pepsident toothpaste and the ad man that used cues and rewards, the song Heyya by OutKast and the golden rule of habit change (sandwiching the new and unfamiliar within familiar cues and rewards), Saddleback church and how teaching habits can be a powerful form of leadership. Many of the stories point to the importance of identifying "keystone habits" that when adjusted, change the whole behavior of a person or organization. I've certainly seen this in my own life! As I reflect on the lessons I learned playing sports and doing music as a kid, I am confident that they taught me the habits of discipline, hard work, and goal setting in ways nothing else could have.
This is a good book, though like most business books it can get repetitive at parts. But if closely adhered to, there is content here that can really change your life. Once we know the power of habit, we have the responsibility to change our own routines and habits to make our lives and the lives of others as great as we can.
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I am a graduate student in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. I enjoy writing, hiking, and spending time with my family.