A Look at Habits
Friday, February 15, 2013 • 2:41pm
It’s 3:00 in the afternoon. You leave your desk looking for a break from your work. Is it by chance that you are now standing in your office break room, coins in hand, staring down an array of sweet and salty snacks behind the vending machine glass, or is habit that you ended up in the break room at all?
Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, gives insight into why we do what we do as individuals, as companies and organizations, and as a society.
In 2006, a Duke University researcher published a paper that stated forty percent of the actions we perform every day aren’t decisions at all, but habits. Through Duhigg, we find that learning the structure of our habits makes it easier for us to control them, and, while habits may be difficult to form or break – possibly replace them.
Once we understand the nature of habits, we see there is a greater architecture including beliefs, support systems, and small wins; all integral parts for forming and reforming habits.
One of the most important ideas in this book is keystone habits and how “they can influence how people work, eat, play, live, spend, and communicate.” Success is not about getting everything right, but instead, it’s about focusing on a few habits that matter the most, to ultimately shift and make or remake different patterns. “Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything.”
It is through these keystone habits that The Power of Habit demonstrates the insight into why some people, companies, and products succeed while others struggle.
There is no need for a Ph.D. or scientific knowledge to understand this book. Through large-scale and small examples, we see how the role of habits has shaped the success of Olympian Michael Phelps and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz; why some people effortlessly go to the gym every day; the success of Alcoholics Anonymous’ famous 12-step program; and, yes, even why, at 3:00, you are standing in front of the vending machine staring down another bag of chips.
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