Oct 10, 2012

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Description: A young woman walks into a laboratory. Over the past two years, she has transformed almost every aspect of her life. She has quit smoking, run a marathon, and been promoted at work. The patterns inside her brain, neurologists discover, have fundamentally changed.

Marketers at Procter & Gamble study videos of people making their beds. They are desperately trying to figure out how to sell a new product called Febreze, on track to be one of the biggest flops in company history. Suddenly, one of them detects a nearly imperceptible pattern—and with a slight shift in advertising, Febreze goes on to earn a billion dollars a year.

An untested CEO takes over one of the largest companies in America. His first order of business is attacking a single pattern among his employees—how they approach worker safety—and soon the firm, Alcoa, becomes the top performer in the Dow Jones.

What do all these people have in common? They achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives.

They succeeded by transforming habits.

The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.

Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. We go inside Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation’s largest hospitals and see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death.

At its core,
The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.

Habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

 This book follows a very familiar format. Basically, it mixes of neuroscience with both personal and professional/business stories to prove the point it's trying to make - in this case, the power of our habits and how to change and cultivate them for a better life and a better world. Luckily I love this type of book. See my reviews of Quiet, How We Decide and Imagine. After what happened with Jonah Lehrer/Imagine, I do take the information contained in them with more of a grain of salt, so to speak, but I give the authors the benefit of the doubt and don't let one bad apple spoil the whole genre.

We all have habits we'd like to change. The big question on everyone's mind is Will this book help me change them? To that I say...I don't know. Maybe. Probably. I mean, it's definitely not going to hurt. Knowing is half the battle and the underlying principals seem sound. Plus, the writing is good, the stories are interesting and it's an enjoyable read. And if you want to get into the habit of reading more, reading this book would be a pretty good first step.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful I'd give it an Extremely Awesome. Although the format is familiar to the point of almost overdone, I still loved every bit of it.


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