Thursday, March 21, 2013

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

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

The Wall Street Journal • Financial Times
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.

In 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.

My thoughts:
This was a really interesting audio book to listen to especially while I was running, which I am working on turning back into a habit.  If you always do things one way you have to actively do something to change that and, sometimes by just making one change, you will create a ripple effect in other areas of your life or business.

I wasn't so worried about how to make changes in business, although it was interesting to listen to cases where focusing on safety ended up with happier employees who were more productive and safer, as I was people who turned themselves around.  The book goes step by step showing you people who made changes and how they made them, or people who had brain injuries and were unable to make new memories but were able to create new habits, just unable to talk about those habits.

Do we unknowingly keep to the status quo because of our habits?  What does it take to change those habits for the better and how does changing a habit in one area of your life or business flow into other areas?  Duhigg told of workers whose company had made a change to their safety procedures then pointing out safety issues to people out of the street working in construction, the habit of safety became so ingrained that the man was unable to work until he went out to tell bridge workers about how unsafe they were without harnesses.

This book provides a lot of mental food for thought.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400069286
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/2012
  • Pages: 400

Meet the Author

Charles Duhigg is an investigative reporter for The New York Times. He is a winner of the National Academies of Sciences, National Journalism, and George Polk awards, and was part of a team of finalists for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. He is a frequent contributor to This American Life, NPR, PBS NewsHour, and Frontline. A graduate of Harvard Business School and Yale College, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two kids.

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