The power of habit: why we do what we do in life and business / by Charles Duhigg. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. THE POWER OF A CRISIS How Leaders Create Habits Through Accident and ABOUT THE AUTHOR Charles Duhigg is an investigative reporter for The. THE POWER OF HABIT-CHARLES DUHIGG. This book abstract is intended to provide just a glimpse of this wonderful book with the hope that you may like to.
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Here is your download link: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg - PDF Drive PDF Drive - Search and. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Drawing on anecdotes, as well as psychological and neurological research, NYT investigative reporter. Charles Duhigg. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is an interesting examination of what exactly a habit is and how we can mould, shape and change the.
Later that week, a visitor joined Eugene on his daily stroll. They walked for about fifteen minutes through the perpetual spring of Southern California, the scent of bougainvillea heavy in the air.
He never asked for directions. As they rounded the corner near his house, the visitor asked Eugene where he lived. Then he walked up his sidewalk, opened his front door, went into the living room, and turned on the television. It was clear to Squire that Eugene was absorbing new information. But where inside his brain was that information residing? Or find his way home when he had no idea which house was his?
Within the building that houses the Brain and Cognitive Sciences department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are laboratories that contain what, to the casual observer, look like dollhouse versions of surgical theaters. There are tiny scalpels, small drills, and miniature saws less than a quarter inch wide attached to robotic arms. Even the operating tables are tiny, as if prepared for child-sized surgeons.
Inside these laboratories, neurologists cut into the skulls of anesthetized rats, implanting tiny sensors that can record the smallest changes inside their brains.
When the rats wake, they hardly seem to notice that there are now dozens of microscopic wires arrayed, like neurological spiderwebs, inside their heads. These laboratories have become the epicenter for a quiet revolution in the science of habit formation, and the experiments unfolding here explain how Eugene—as well as you, me, and everyone else—developed the behaviors necessary to make it through each day.
The rats in these labs have illuminated the complexity that occurs inside our heads whenever we do something as mundane as brush our teeth or back the car out of the driveway. And for Squire, these laboratories helped explain how Eugene managed to learn new habits.
When the MIT researchers started working on habits in the s—at about the same time that Eugene came down with his fever—they were curious about a nub of neurological tissue known as the basal ganglia. If you picture the human brain as an onion, composed of layer upon layer of cells, then the outside layers—those closest to the scalp—are generally the most recent additions from an evolutionary perspective.
Deeper inside the brain and closer to the brain stem—where the brain meets the spinal column—are older, more primitive structures. They control our automatic behaviors, such as breathing and swallowing, or the startle response we feel when someone leaps out from behind a bush. Toward the center of the skull is a golf ball-sized lump of tissue that is similar to what you might find inside the head of a fish, reptile, or mammal.
They noticed that animals with injured basal ganglia suddenly developed problems with tasks such as learning howto run through mazes or remembering howto open food containers. In surgery, each rat had what looked like a small joystick and dozens of tiny wires inserted into its skull. Afterward, the animal was placed into a T-shaped maze with chocolate at one end.
The maze was structured so that each rat was positioned behind a partition that opened when a loud click sounded.! When it reached the top of the T, it often turned to the right, away from the chocolate, and then wandered left, sometimes pausing for no obvious reason.
Eventually, most animals discovered the reward. But there was no discernible pattern in their meanderings. It seemed as if each rat was taking a leisurely, unthinking stroll.
While each animal wandered through the maze, its brain—and in particular, its basal ganglia —worked furiously. Each time a rat sniffed the air or scratched a wall, its brain exploded with activity, as if analyzing each new scent, sight, and sound.
The rat was processing information the entire time it meandered. A series of shifts slowly emerged. The rats stopped sniffing corners and making wrong turns. Instead, they zipped through the maze faster and faster.
And within their brains, something unexpected occurred: As each rat learned how to navigate the maze, its mental activity decreased. As the route became more and more automatic, each rat started thinking less and less. It was as if the first few times a rat explored the maze, its brain had to work at full power to make sense of all the new information.
All it had to do was recall the quickest path to the chocolate. Within a week, even the brain structures related to memory had quieted. The rat had internalized how to sprint through the maze to such a degree that it hardly needed to think at all. But that internalization—run straight, hang a left, eat the chocolate—relied upon the basal ganglia, the brain probes indicated.
This tiny, ancient neurological structure seemed to take over as the rat ran faster and faster and its brain worked less and less. The basal ganglia was central to recalling patterns and acting on them. The basal ganglia, in other words, stored habits even while the rest of the brain went to sleep.
Some are simple: You automatically put toothpaste on your toothbrush before sticking it in your mouth. Take the act of backing your car out of the driveway.
When you first learned to drive, the driveway required a major dose of concentration, and for good reason: It involves opening the garage, unlocking the car door, adjusting the seat, inserting the key in the ignition, turning it clockwise, moving the rearview and side mirrors and checking for obstacles, putting your foot on the brake, moving the gearshift into reverse, removing your foot from the brake, mentally estimating the distance between the garage and the street while keeping the wheels aligned and monitoring for oncoming traffic, calculating how reflected images in the mirrors translate into actual distances between the bumper, the garbage cans, and the hedges, all while applying slight pressure to the gas pedal and brake, and, most likely, telling your passenger to please stop fiddling with the radio.
Nowadays, however, you do all of that every time you pull onto the street with hardly any thought. The routine occurs by habit. Once that habit starts unfolding, our gray matter is free to quiet itself or chase other thoughts, which is why we have enough mental capacity to realize that Jimmy forgot his lunchbox inside. Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.
Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often.
This effort-saving instinct is a huge advantage. An efficient brain requires less room, which makes for a smaller head, which makes childbirth easier and therefore causes fewer infant and mother deaths. An efficient brain also allows us to stop thinking constantly about basic behaviors, such as walking and choosing what to eat, so we can devote mental energy to inventing spears, irrigation systems, and, eventually, airplanes and video games.
But conserving mental effort is tricky, because if our brains power down at the wrong moment, we might fail to notice something important, such as a predator hiding in the bushes or a speeding car as we pull onto the street.
So our basal ganglia have devised a clever system to determine when to let habits take over. Notice that brain activity spikes at the beginning of the maze, when the rat hears the click before the partition starts moving, and again at the end, when it finds the chocolate.
To deal with this uncertainty, the brain spends a lot of effort at the beginning of a habit looking for something—a cue—that offers a hint as to which pattern to use. From behind a partition, if a rat hears a click, it knows to use the maze habit. If it hears a meow, it chooses a different pattern. And at the end of the activity, when the reward appears, the brain shakes itself awake and makes sure everything unfolded as expected.
This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional.
Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future: The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges. Eventually, whether in a chilly MIT laboratory or your driveway, a habit is born. As the next two chapters explain, habits can be ignored, changed, or replaced.
But the reason the discovery of the habit loop is so important is that it reveals a basic truth: When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making.
It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks. So unless you deliberately fight a habit—unless you find new routines—the pattern will unfold automatically. However, simply understanding how habits work—learning the structure of the habit loop—makes them easier to control. Once you break a habit into its components, you can fiddle with the gears. Habits never really disappear. Once we develop a routine of sitting on the couch, rather than running, or snacking whenever we pass a doughnut box, those patterns always remain inside our heads.
By the same rule, though, if we learn to create new neurological routines that overpower those behaviors—if we take control of the habit loop—we can force those bad tendencies into the background, just as Lisa Allen did after her Cairo trip. And once someone creates a new pattern, studies have demonstrated, going for a jog or ignoring the doughnuts becomes as automatic as any other habit.
Without habit loops, our brains would shut down, overwhelmed by the minutiae of daily life. People whose basal ganglia are damaged by injury or disease often become mentally paralyzed.
They have trouble performing basic activities, such as opening a door or deciding what to eat. Without our basal ganglia, we lose access to the hundreds of habits we rely on every day. Did you pause this morning to decide whether to tie your left or right shoe first? Did you have trouble figuring out if you should brush your teeth before or after you showered?
Of course not. Those decisions are habitual, effortless. As long as your basal ganglia is intact and the cues remain constant, the behaviors will occur unthinkingly. Though when you go on vacation, you may get dressed in different ways or brush your teeth at a different point in your morning routine without noticing it.
‘The Power of Habit,’ by Charles Duhigg
Habits are often as much a curse as a benefit. Take Eugene, for instance. Habits gave him his life back after he lost his memory. Then they took everything away again. As Larry Squire, the memory specialist, spent more and more time with Eugene, he became convinced his patient was somehow learning new behaviors.
Was it possible, the scientist wondered, that Eugene, even with severe brain damage, could still use the cue-routine-reward loop?
Could this ancient neurological process explain how Eugene was able to walk around the block and find the jar of nuts in the kitchen? To test if Eugene was forming new habits, Squire devised an experiment. He took sixteen different objects—bits of plastic and brightly colored pieces of toys—and glued them to cardboard rectangles. He then divided them into eight pairs: This is a common way to measure memory.
He repeated the experiment twice a week for months, looking at forty pairings each day. Do you know why? At thirty-six days, he was right 95 percent of the time. After one test, Eugene looked at the researcher, bewildered by his success.
Eugene was exposed to a cue: There was a routine: He would choose one object and look to see if there was a sticker underneath, even if he had no idea why he felt compelled to turn the cardboard over. Then there was a reward: Routine To make sure this pattern was, in fact, a habit, Squire conducted one more experiment. He took all sixteen items and put them in front of Eugene at the same time. Eugene had no idea where to begin. He reached for one object and started to turn it over.
The experimenter stopped him. No, she explained. The task was to put the items in piles. Why was he trying to turn them over? The objects, when presented outside of the context of the habit loop, made no sense to him. Here was the proof Squire was looking for. This explained how Eugene managed to go for a walk every morning. As long as the right cues were present—such as his radio or the morning light through his windows—he automatically followed the script dictated by his basal ganglia.
She would talk to her father in the living room for a bit, then go into the kitchen to visit with her mother, and then leave, waving good-bye on her way out the door.
Eugene, who had forgotten their earlier conversation by the time she left, would get angry—why was she leaving without chatting? But the emotional habit had already started, and so his anger would persist, red hot and beyond his understanding, until it burned itself out. He would kick his chair, or snap at whoever came into the room. Then, a few minutes later, he would smile and talk about the weather. The few times he walked around the block, for instance, and something was different—the city was doing street repairs or a windstorm had blown branches all over the sidewalk—Eugene would get lost, no matter how close he was to home, until a kind neighbor showed him the way to his door.
If his daughter stopped to chat with him for ten seconds before she walked out, his anger habit never emerged. We might not remember the experiences that create our habits, but once they are lodged within our brains they influence how we act—often without our realization. Researchers have learned that cues can be almost anything, from a visual trigger such as a candy bar or a television commercial to a certain place, a time of day, an emotion, a sequence of thoughts, or the company of particular people.
Routines can be incredibly complex or fantastically simple some habits, such as those related to emotions, are measured in milliseconds. Rewards can range from food or drugs that cause physical sensations, to emotional payoffs, such as the feelings of pride that accompany praise or self-congratulation. Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed.
They often occur without our permission, but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realize—they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense. In one set of experiments, for example, researchers affiliated with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism trained mice to press levers in response to certain cues until the behavior became a habit. The mice were always rewarded with food.
Then, the scientists poisoned the food so that it made the animals violently ill, or electrified the floor, so that when the mice walked toward their reward they received a shock. The mice knew the food and cage were dangerous—when they were offered the poisoned pellets in a bowl or saw the electrified floor panels, they stayed away.
When they saw their old cues, however, they unthinkingly pressed the lever and ate the food, or they walked across the floor, even as they vomited or jumped from the electricity. Consider fast food, for instance. The meals are inexpensive. It tastes so good. After all, one dose of processed meat, salty fries, and sugary soda poses a relatively small health risk, right? But habits emerge without our permission.
What happens is that a once a month pattern slowly becomes once a week, and then twice a week—as the cues and rewards create a habit—until the kids are consuming an unhealthy amount of hamburgers and fries.
When researchers at the University of North Texas and Yale tried to understand why families gradually increased their fast food consumption, they found a series of cues and rewards that most customers never knew were influencing their behaviors.! They discovered the habit loop. The foods at some chains are specifically engineered to deliver immediate rewards—the fries, for instance, are designed to begin disintegrating the moment they hit your tongue, in order to deliver a hit of salt and grease as fast as possible, causing your pleasure centers to light up and your brain to lock in the pattern.
All the better for tightening the habit loop. When a fast food restaurant closes down, the families that previously ate there will often start having dinner at home, rather than seek out an alternative location. Even small shifts can end the pattern. By learning to observe the cues and rewards, though, we can change the routines. He went for a walk every morning. He ate what he wanted, sometimes five or six times a day. His wife knew that as long as the television was tuned to the History Channel, Eugene would settle into his plush chair and watch it regardless of whether it was airing reruns or new programs.
He was sedentary, sometimes watching television for hours at a time because he never grew bored with the shows. His physicians became worried about his heart.
The doctors told Beverly to keep him on a strict diet of healthy foods. She tried, but it was difficult to influence how frequently he ate or what he consumed. He never recalled her admonitions. Even if the refrigerator was stocked with fruits and vegetables, Eugene would root around until he found the bacon and eggs. That was his routine.
And as Eugene aged and his bones became more brittle, the doctors said he needed to be more careful walking around. In his mind, however, Eugene was twenty years younger.
He never remembered to step carefully. The brain has this amazing ability to find happiness even when the memories of it are gone. When she put a salad next to his chair, he would sometimes pick at it, and as the meal became a habit, he stopped searching the kitchen for treats.
His diet gradually improved. One spring day, Eugene was watching television when he suddenly shouted. Beverly ran in and saw him clutching his chest. She called an ambulance. At the hospital, they diagnosed a minor heart attack. By then the pain had passed and Eugene was fighting to get off his gurney. That night, he kept pulling off the monitors attached to his chest so he could roll over and sleep.
Alarms would blare and nurses would rush in.
They tried to get him to quit fiddling with the sensors by taping the leads in place and telling him they would use restraints if he continued fussing. Nothing worked. He forgot the threats as soon as they were issued.
Then his daughter told a nurse to try complimenting him on his willingness to sit still, and to repeat the compliment, over and over, each time she saw him. He loved it.
After a couple of days, he did whatever they asked. Eugene returned home a week later. Then, in the fall of , while walking through his living room, Eugene tripped on a ledge near the fireplace, fell, and broke his hip. So they left notes by his bedside explaining what had happened and posted photos of his children on the walls.
His wife and kids came everyday. Eugene, however, never grew worried. He never asked why he was in the hospital. It was as if part of his brain knew there were some things he would never understand and was okay with that.
I pointed to the pictures and talked about how much he was adored. We were married for fifty-seven years, and forty-two of those were a real, normal marriage. Sometimes it was hard, because I wanted my old husband back so much.
About the Author
But at least I knew he was happy. She thought he might be able to come home soon. The sun was going down. She started to get ready to take him inside. Eugene looked at her. She was caught off-guard. He was gone. After his death, he would be celebrated by researchers, the images of his brain studied in hundreds of labs and medical schools. And he did. He just never remembered any of it.
One day in the early s, a prominent American executive named Claude C. Hopkins was approached by an old friend with a new business idea. The friend had discovered an amazing product, he explained, that he was convinced would be a hit.
If, that is, Hopkins would consent to help design a national promotional campaign. He had seduced millions of women into downloading Palmolive soap by proclaiming that Cleopatra had washed with it, despite the sputtering protests of outraged historians. And in the process, he had made himself so rich that his best-selling autobiography, My Life in Advertising, devoted long passages to the difficulties of spending so much money.
Claude Hopkins was best known for a series of rules he coined explaining how to create new habits among consumers.
The Power of Habit Teacher’s Guide
These rules would transform industries and eventually became conventional wisdom among marketers, educational reformers, public health professionals, politicians, and CEOs. They are fundamental to creating any new routine. However, when his old friend approached Hopkins about Pepsodent, the ad man expressed only mild interest.
As the nation had become wealthier, people had started downloading larger amounts of sugary, processed foods. Yet as Hopkins knew, selling toothpaste was financial suicide. There was already an army of door-to-door salesmen hawking dubious tooth powders and elixirs, most of them going broke. The friend, however, was persistent.
The friend agreed. Within five years of that partnership, Hopkins turned Pepsodent into one of the best-known products on earth and, in the process, helped create a toothbrushing habit that moved across America with startling speed. The secret to his success, Hopkins would later boast, was that he had found a certain kind of cue and reward that fueled a particular habit. Eugene Pauly taught us about the habit loop, but it was Claude Hopkins that showed how new habits can be cultivated and grown.
So what, exactly, did Hopkins do? He created a craving. And that craving, it turns out, is what makes cues and rewards work. That craving is what powers the habit loop. He sold Quaker Oats, for instance, as a breakfast cereal that could provide energy for twenty-four hours—but only if you ate a bowl every morning. Soon, people were devouring oatmeal at daybreak and chugging from little brown bottles whenever they felt a hint of fatigue, which, as luck would have it, often happened at least once a day.
He sat down with a pile of dental textbooks. I resolved to advertise this toothpaste as a creator of beauty. To deal with that cloudy film. The film is a naturally occurring membrane that builds up on teeth regardless of what you eat or how often you brush.
You can get rid of the film by eating an apple, running your finger over your teeth, brushing, or vigorously swirling liquid around your mouth. In fact, one of the leading dental researchers of the time said that all toothpastes—particularly Pepsodent—were worthless. Here, he decided, was a cue that could trigger a habit. Soon, cities were plastered with Pepsodent ads. Why would any woman have dingy film on her teeth?
Pepsodent removes the film! Telling someone to run their tongue across their teeth, it turned out, was likely to cause them to run their tongue across their teeth. And when they did, they were likely to feel a film. Hopkins had found a cue that was simple, had existed for ages, and was so easy to trigger that an advertisement could cause people to comply automatically.
Moreover, the reward, as Hopkins envisioned it, was even more enticing. Particularly when all it takes is a quick brush with Pepsodent? Then two. In the third week, demand exploded. In three years, the product went international, and Hopkins was crafting ads in Spanish, German, and Chinese.
ZAl Before Pepsodent appeared, only 7 percent of Americans had a tube of toothpaste in their medicine chests. First, find a simple and obvious cue. Second, clearly define the rewards.
If you get those elements right, Hopkins promised, it was like magic. Look at Pepsodent: He had identified a cue—tooth film—and a reward—beautiful teeth—that had persuaded millions to start a daily ritual. Studies of people who have successfully started new exercise routines, for instance, show they are more likely to stick with a workout plan if they choose a specific cue, such as running as soon as they get home from work, and a clear reward, such as a beer or an evening of guilt-free television.
His hair was a mess. His eyes were tired. They told me running this project was a promotion. They all worked for one of the largest consumer goods firms on earth, the company behind Pringles potato chips, Oil of Olay, Bounty paper towels, CoverGirl cosmetics, Dawn, Downy, and Duracell, as well as dozens of other brands. The firm was incredibly good at figuring out how to sell things. The company had spent millions of dollars developing a spray that could remove bad smells from almost any fabric.
And the researchers in that tiny, windowless room had no idea how to get people to download it. The chemist was a smoker. His clothes usually smelled like an ashtray. He was suspicious. She had been harassing him to give up cigarettes for years. This seemed like some kind of reverse psychology trickery.
Soon, he had hundreds of vials containing fabrics that smelled like wet dogs, cigars, sweaty socks, Chinese food, musty shirts, and dirty towels. After the mist dried, the smell was gone. For years, market research had said that consumers were clamoring for something that could get rid of bad smells—not mask them, but eradicate them altogether. When one team of researchers had interviewed customers, they found that many of them left their blouses or slacks outside after a night at a bar or party.
They spent millions perfecting the formula, finally producing a colorless, odorless liquid that could wipe out almost any foul odor. The science behind the spray was so advanced that NASA would eventually use it to clean the interiors of shuttles after they returned from space.
They decided to call it Febreze, and asked Stimson, a thirty-one-year-old wunderkind with a background in math and psychology, to lead the marketing team.
But Febreze was different. All Stimson needed to do was figure out how to make Febreze into a habit, and the product would fly off the shelves. How tough could that be? They flew in and handed out samples, and then asked people if they could come by their homes. Over the course of two months, they visited hundreds of households. Their first big breakthrough came when they visited a park ranger in Phoenix. She was in her late twenties and lived by herself. Her job was to trap animals that wandered out of the desert.
She caught coyotes, raccoons, the occasional mountain lion. And skunks. Lots and lots of skunks. Which often sprayed her when they were caught. Her house, her truck, her clothing, her boots, her hands, her curtains. Even her bed. She had tried all sorts of cures. She bought special soaps and shampoos. She burned candles and used expensive carpet shampooing machines. None of it worked. What if I bring him home and he wants to leave? Eventually, he came over, and I thought everything was going really well.
She sprayed the curtains, the rug, the bedspread, her jeans, her uniform, the interior of her car. The bottle ran out, so she got another one, and sprayed everything else. The skunk is gone. Thank you. This product is so important. The key to selling Febreze, they decided, was conveying that sense of relief the park ranger felt. They had to position Febreze as something that would allow people to rid themselves of embarrassing smells.
They wanted to keep the ads simple: Find an obvious cue and clearly define the reward. They designed two television commercials.
The first showed a woman talking about the smoking section of a restaurant. Whenever she eats there, her jacket smells like smoke. A friend tells her if she uses Febreze, it will eliminate the odor. The cue: The reward: The second ad featured a woman worrying about her dog, Sophie, who always sits on the couch. Stimson and his colleagues began airing the advertisements in in the same test cities. They gave away samples, put advertisements in mailboxes, and paid grocers to build mountains of Febreze near cash registers.
Then they sat back, anticipating how they would spend their bonuses. A week passed. A month. Two months. Sales started small—and got smaller. Panicked, the company sent researchers into stores to see what was happening.
Shelves were filled with Febreze bottles that had never been touched. They started visiting housewives who had received free samples. I remember it. Here it is! In the back! Did you want it back? For Stimson, this was a disaster. Rival executives in other divisions sensed an opportunity in his failure. He heard whispers that some people were lobbying to kill Febreze and get him reassigned to Nicky Clarke hair products, the consumer goods equivalent of Siberia. They could smell her nine cats before they went inside.
She was somewhat of a neat freak, the woman explained. When Stimson and the scientists walked into her living room, where the cats lived, the scent was so overpowering that one of them gagged. The researchers looked at one another. The same pattern played out in dozens of other smelly homes the researchers visited.
If you live with nine cats, you become desensitized to their scent. Building on the research of Mark Muraven described on pages —, what is the role of kindness or compassion in helping people develop willpower habits?
What is an example from your life where kindness or compassion helped you delay gratification or strengthen your willpower? Imagine one of your teachers asked you to teach his 8am class next week.
Unfortunately, students in this early class regularly show up late. Your goal is to reduce tardiness. What steps would you take to cultivate a timeliness habit? Hint: think about setting goals and planning for challenges inflection points for arriving at 8am. Have you ever sprained an ankle? Over 3 million sprained ankles occurred in the US between and Recovering from this type of injury generally requires elevating your foot, wearing a supportive bandage or brace, and taking a painkiller for two weeks.
What are the inflection points that might delay recovery? What would your plan look like if you sprained your ankle very badly? What advice would you give yourself to increase your willpower habits regarding completing class assignments and submitting them by the due date? Identify some of the strategies used by children in the marshmallow studies by observing their behavior first hand.
Identify two strategies the children used to avoid eating the marshmallow. Why did these strategies help them sustain their willpower? Based on the information in this video, do you believe culture plays an important role in delayed gratification willpower? Would you take a class to improve your willpower and learn more about willpower research? Help Professor McGonigal with her class by creating a homework assignment for her students. What activities would you assign students to learn more about willpower?
Should they read about willpower research, conduct an experiment about willpower, or watch classic footage of marshmallow studies? What other activities can you think of to help the students learn about willpower? What are the most important pieces of information that students should know about willpower research? The President of your university has asked for your help. She is concerned about low graduation rates among undergraduate students.
The President has asked you to design a strategic plan to help students graduate. What key elements should this plan include?
Write a memo to the President describing three specific suggestions to increase graduation rates using the ideas in this chapter. What exercises should new freshmen complete on their first day of school? Outline a one-day workshop every sophomore must complete before they leave for summer break that would increase the likelihood of them graduating.
If your school gave one assignment to each junior to help achieve the same goal, what would it be? Or that a fatal fire in an underground subway could have positive benefits? However, at a hospital in Rhode Island and in a subway in London, those crises forced organizations to change their routines. This chapter explains why good leaders often capitalize on crises to remake organizational habits.
Crises, or the perception of crises, can cultivate a sense that something must change and provide momentum for an organization to reevaluate organizational patterns. Routines, as organizational habits are often called, provide unwritten rules that groups need to operate.
Routines function as organizational memory and reduce uncertainty for employees. All organizations have institutional habits; some are beneficial routines and others are toxic. Organizational habits can be deliberately designed—like the worker safety habits at Alcoa in Chapter 4—or can grow without forethought. During the turmoil of a crisis, organizational habits are more flexible and open to change.
Leaders can use the opportunity of a crisis to deliberately design a new culture and better routines. What did he mean? Describe the crisis and explain how it led to a positive change. Write down three pieces of unwritten advice about how to succeed at your workplace or university. How have you, or your organization, created routines to make these rules occur?
Which routines help you be successful? How does it relate to organizational habits and routines? According to this chapter, could an organization function if all employees had equal say in how things are run?
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg [BOOK SUMMARY & PDF]
Some people think that organizations need leaders who cultivate habits that both create a real and balanced peace and, paradoxically, make it absolutely clear who is in charge. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Explain your reasoning. Summarize the toxic routines that contributed to the devastating fire that killed thirty-one people in the London Underground. Analyze those patterns and describe how different communication patterns could have prevented the tragedy.
How did the institutional changes that are listed on page change the routines of the employees at Rhode Island Hospital? Why would a leader want to prolong a sense of emergency on purpose or create the perception of a crisis? Is that ethical? How many times have you visited a hospital or used public transportation?
After reading about the habits of Rhode Island Hospital and the London Underground, how do you feel about your experiences with hospitals and public transportation? Based on your experiences, are you confident about the services offered by these organizations? Some speculate their deaths were influenced by the safety habits of the organization. To avoid exposure to the disaster surrounding the North Tower, Fetchet and his colleagues stayed in the South Tower as they did not know that their building had been damaged and assumed dangers were isolated to the North Tower.
What elements of organizational habits are revealed by this policy? What written or unwritten habits may have contributed to some of the fatalities in the World Trade Center collapse?
The chapters in the second section of this book focus on habits within companies and organizations. Workplaces are unique professional atmospheres that have their own language convey organizational habits. The questions below ask you to consider some of the language used in workplaces and to examine the underlying workplace habits. What does this phrase mean in the context of this chapter?
How could you apply this phrase to the example of fire in the London Underground? What unwritten rules do these phrases reveal? Imagine that you were appointed the head of the London Underground following the fire.
The British Parliament has asked you to reform the organization, and your first job is to redesign the organizational chart and develop three new rules to keep the trains running, while also making sure another tragedy like the fire never occurs. How do you assign responsibility to make it clear who is in charge of various divisions, while also assigning broad responsibility for issues like passenger safety? What would your organizational chart look like?
What are your first three rules? What would you do on your first day at work? What do you notice about it? How do advertisers know that you need garbage bags again? Can these companies read your mind? Or, are they spying on you? You may be surprised to learn how much retail companies know about you! This chapter focuses on how companies capitalize on our shopping habits.
The real reward is the social connection with another person. Once you identify your cues and rewards, you want to work on actually changing the habit. For some reason, even after a long time, experiencing a cue can trigger old habits despite your best intentions. This is why alcoholics and smokers can fall off the wagon after just smelling cigarette smoke or having one taste of alcohol. Luckily, there is one Golden Rule: to change a habit, keep the same cue and the same reward, but change the routine.
Instead, a more successful strategy is to replace the routine with something more productive, so that you get the same reward at the end. One of the most successful examples of habit change is Alcoholics Anonymous. Its famous step program forces the recovering alcoholic to go through a few important steps. Often, alcoholics drink not because of the physical feeling of intoxication, but because of the accompanying emotional relief — an escape from your everyday problems, a distraction, catharsis.
To change the habit, AA forces its members to replace the routine of drinking with engaging socially at meetings. Their goal is to attend 90 meetings in 90 days, and new members get a dedicated sponsor as a personal companion. The recovering alcoholic can keep the same cues like anxiety about a life problem and rewards distraction from the problem or relaxation.
But the routine is entirely different, and much healthier. Depending on what the cues are, the player then has an automatic habit of reacting.
If these could truly become habits, then the behavior would be automatic.
Football plays happen in fractions of a second, and thinking gets you in trouble. This strategy, and countless sessions of drilling habits until they became automatic, ultimately led the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl. Coach Dungy then took his techniques to the Colts, who won a Super Bowl themselves.
In the deepest and darkest days, when your cravings feel unbearable, it is critical to believe that you DO have the power to make your new habit a permanent behavior. You must believe that you can cope with the stress of the craving without falling back to your old behavior. You must believe that things will get better. Faith is a big component of AA — belief in a higher power is a big part of the 12 step program. Being in a community is helpful for this — a community can make the big goal of change believable.
Hearing the stories of other people who have successfully changed their habits gives you belief that you can do it too. Thus, if you want to change a habit, try to find other people who have successfully done it themselves. Try to find a subreddit or local meetup with other people who are on the same journey as you. And believe in your ability to change, one step at a time. This section of the book seems less rigorous and research-backed than the first part, but has some interesting ideas.
Chapter 4: Keystone Habits — Which Habits Matter Most Certain habits can have a domino effect — get one habit right, and many other good habits fall into place naturally. These keystone habits act as massive levers.
A study on weight loss tried to get obese people to follow a simple habit — write down everything they ate, at least one day a week. While difficult at first, it became a habit for many. Unexpectedly, this small habit rippled throughout their diet. They then proactively started to plan future meals so that when they wanted a snack, they reached for an apple instead of a candy bar.
The keystone habit of keeping a food journal created an environment for more healthy habits to thrive. Eventually, participants who kept a journal lost twice as much weight as the control group. How do you find a keystone habit? Find an area where you can have small wins. By achieving small wins, you create forces that favor another small win, and that in turn encourages the next small win, and so on, creating a virtuous cycle. These wins create a culture of change, and create new structures that help new habits grow and thrive.
It can make sense intuitively, though. By achieving small wins, you can reverse this resignation — you can convince yourself that you ARE capable of change. This courage can empower you to take bigger and bigger steps. Its product quality was poor, and its workers went on strike when ordered to improve their productivity.
On his first investor meeting, he shocked the room by talking not about synergy or profits or competitive advantages, but about a simple focus: worker safety.
He wanted to make Alcoa the safest company in the country. His stance was that if the company worked together to lower injury rate, they would have developed habits across the entire organization that prized excellence of work.
The investors were shocked — surely this was an insane, unprofitable area to focus on. Improving worker safety was a keystone habit that caused ripples of improvements through every major practice in the company. The first step was making it known across the entire company that worker safety was the number one priority. People would be promoted and fired on achieving worker safety, so the reward was established.
The president would have to keep their ears open to presidents, who would need to be in touch with floor managers, who would need to be constantly on alert with the workers on the ground for injuries. Furthermore, floor managers would need to have plans prepared to prevent the injury from happening again.
All of this opened up communication like never before, which had major benefits outside of just guaranteeing safety. Other examples of new habits: Measuring productivity was now embraced because it helped indicate problem areas in the pipeline that could lead to injury.
Unions had opposed it for years. This change then allowed managers to hold workers accountable for productivity. Equipment was regularly repaired and processes were redesigned.
If a molten aluminum pourer was splashing, for example, it was replaced before causing injury. This also led to increased efficiency, less waste, and higher quality products. They started calling him not just to talk about safety, but about other great ideas they had that no one was listening to. Worker safety was essentially synonymous with product quality, efficiency, communication, and collaboration. When achieving worker safety, the company also had to improve many of its core functions, which in turn led to a superior position in the market.
Email address: Leave this field empty if you're human: Chapter 5: Starbucks and the Habit of Success — When Willpower Becomes Automatic Willpower can be defined in a number of ways: as self-discipline, determination, self-control.
More technically, it has also been defined as the ability to delay short-term gratification to reach long-term goals, the ability to override an unwanted impulse, and regulation of the self.
Willpower is critical to personal success. Kids were put into a room and presented with a marshmallow on a plate. The researcher left the room and watched the kids. The minority of kids who delayed gratification ended up with the best grades and SAT scores that were points higher on average.
They were less likely to do drugs and were more socially popular. It seemed that being able to resist short-term temptations had rippling effects for academics and resisting peer pressure.
This ideas has since been replicated across dozens of experiments. Willpower even predicts academic performance more robustly than IQ.
Willpower is trainable. The same 4-year-old kids can be taught techniques to resist the marshmallow, like distracting themselves by doodling, or picturing a frame around a marshmallow so it looks like a picture. Willpower is less a skill like a tennis serve and more like a resource, like muscle power.In practices and scrimmages leading up to the start of the season, the Colts played tight, precise football.
At first, Julio was only mildly interested in what was happening on the screen. BAfi Cue Over time, Julio learned that the appearance of the shape meant it was time to execute a routine. If you use the same cue, and provide the same reward, you can shift the routine and change the habit.
I had been in Iraq for about two months when I heard about an officer conducting an impromptu habit modification program in Kufa, a small city ninety miles south of the capital.
AA succeeds because it helps alcoholics use the same cues, and get the same reward, but it shifts the routine. Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and reward stay the same. Construct a routine ahead of time to push through the pain, and keep practicing it until it becomes a habit. The other Buccaneers are perfectly positioned to clear his route.
However, Duhigg recognises that despite their differences, the habits of peer pressure do share an underlying common feature.
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