The Power of Habit – why we do what we do in life and business

29 Nov 2018

Jim Collins describes this book as ‘Powerful in its elegant simplicity’. Once you understand that habits can change, Duhigg says that you have the freedom to remake them.

Charles Duhigg is an investigative journalist for the New York Times. He has interviewed scientists and read hundreds of scientific papers and has written about the interesting findings on habit formation and change. The book is a serious, but entertaining look at the science of habit and change. Duhigg is hugely optimistic, that if you understand that habits can change, then “you have the freedom – and the responsibility – to remake them.”

Our brains like to conserve as much energy as possible. So, once we go through a process our brain is quick to convert to auto-pilot which is much more powerful than the conscious part of our brain. Duhigg explains this unconscious and automatic loop which starts with a cue which then becomes the trigger for habit. This is followed by some form of routine that operates automatically, followed by some sort of reward that reinforces the habit. Of course, there is both a good side and a ‘dark side’ to habits.

Duhigg uses interesting stories and case histories such as why a 1987 fire in London Underground failed to be contained, leading to the deaths of 31 people; why Rosa Parks’s refusal to give up her seat started a movement; how habits develop in organisations and in societies and come together to create a culture – culture it seems in primarily driven by key habits.  

Duhigg says that using the science and understanding that habits can be rebuilt and understanding the nature of habits we can influence not only our own behavior, but also group behavior, turning organisations around and ensuring personal and organisational success.

I rate it a worthwhile read for anyone interested in change. And, with NY 2019 around the corner, we are offering 5 free copies of The Power of Habit to the first 5 people to email: 

Ref: The Power of change in your email subject line.