The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
Author: Charles Duhigg
Why do we do what we do in our personal lives, at work and as a society as a whole? Why do some people have the ability to make radical changes in their lives to lose weight or stop smoking, while others struggle to make simple changes? These are the questions that Charles Duhigg poses in his book, The Power of Habit. Utilizing real-world chronicles of well-known people and companies, combined with scientific research, Duhigg takes a deep dive into the good, the bad and the ugly of habits that guide more of our day-to-day decisions than one would expect.
As an avid believer in continual personal development and the leader of a rapidly growing organization, the idea of how habits work for me personally and within my company inspired me to download this audiobook narrated by Mike Chamberlain.
The book presents ideas for how to identify personal and organizational habits that are enlightening. One of the most powerful ideas from the book is outlined in what the author calls the “habit loop.” Once a habit is formed through conditioning, it remains a continual and somewhat instinctual routine due to a specific environmental cue that triggers the habit, which in turn results in a reward. Understanding this pattern gives the foundational elements needed for habit change. Change the cue, change the habit.
When Duhigg discusses habits in light of corporate culture, we see the darker side of how habits within groups of people are built, often without purpose, and more often simply for survival. Duhigg makes his case by telling the story of a 1987 fire in a London Underground. The London Underground was segregated into departments that overtime created a set of rules that ensured they didn’t step on each others toes. Those same set of rules allowed the warning signs of the fire to go unchecked and resulted in the death of 31 people. Sadly, the moral of the story states that corporate habit change is often the result of tragedy, and great leaders must learn to cultivate crisis for their company’s gain. Duhigg highlights how the London Underground changed after the incident with the strongest motivator being bad press, instead of the lives lost.
The author goes on to tell similar stories of injured steel workers and hospitals with mistakes that kill patients, all due to corporate culture habits that were created to survive the day-to-day of working within the company. Duhigg’s assessment of corporate habit leaves one to ponder what to do if you don’t have a life-and-death crisis on your hands. His advice focuses on beginning with the right foundation at the inception of an organization. Instead of allowing habits to form on their own, he suggests building patterns that cultivate strategic habits within your organization to avoid needing a disaster to set poor cultural habits back on the right track.
With engaging stories and thought-provoking scientific data, The Power of Habit is a book I would encourage every entrepreneur to read for insight into why you and your team make decisions on a personal and company culture level.
A Book Review by…
The Symphony Agency, CEO
The Symphony Agency is a marketing and technology company orchestrating turnkey digital and traditional campaigns and products for companies that love to grow.
Some of their specialties at Symphony are building brands, websites and marketing campaigns.
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