Looking for a Breakthrough? This Might Be It.

Ever read a book that is both a professional and personal “A-Ha” moment?

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg is one of those books.

The Power of Habit

Not gonna lie. I avoided reading a book on the boring subject of habits and am now sorry I waited.

Top athletes have long used special routines (small wins) to mentally prep for competition (the big win). Duhigg shows you swimming phenom Michael Phelps’ pre-competition habits and routines step-by-step.

Organizational change is harder still because it requires groups of individuals to change their institutional habits often along with changing personal habits. Again, through storytelling, Duhigg teases out how successful “habit-changers” changed one habit for small wins that led to life changing big wins.

We recommend you read the full book, but if you want the cliff notes, they are:

  • Habits have three components, but you only have to change one to be effective. Habits work like this: there’s a cue, the routine, and the reward. You really only need to change the “routine” to get the habit change you want.
  • The golden rule of habits: You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it
  • Keystone habits matter more than other habits: changing “keystone habits” start a process, that over time, transforms everything in your organization or life. A “keystone habit” doesn’t have to be a big habit, but you want to start with a keystone habit because initial shifts can start chain reactions that help other good habits take hold in an organization. You almost always have to try and experiment to find out what those keystone habits are.
  • A reader’s guide to using the ideas from the book. Duhigg discloses that there isn’t “one” formula for changing habits, but offers a process to help you identify a habit routine, the cues, and the rewards to change your own habits.

Duhigg theorizes that “movements” happen because of the social habits of friendship and the strong ties between close acquaintances expand to an entire community. When the leaders of a movement give participants new habits that create the movement’s sense of identity and ownership, a movement can reach critical mass. It’s interesting that he uses both Rosa Parks and Rick Warren as data points to support his theory.

Even if you don’t agree, this book is well-thought out and researched.