Wednesday 20 June 2012

Book Review - The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

I admit it. I bite my nails. I've done it all my life and it drives Teena crazy.

When I saw The Power of Habit come up as a new ebook on the Toronto Library website I knew I had to read it.

Groundbreaking new research shows that by grabbing hold of the three-step "loop" all habits form in our brains--cue, routine, reward--we can change them, giving us the power to take control over our lives.

On the most basic level, a habit is a simple neurological loop: there is a cue (my mouth feels gross), a routine (hello, Crest), and a reward (ahhh, minty fresh). Understanding this loop is the key to exercising regularly or becoming more productive at work or tapping into reserves of creativity. Marketers, too, are learning how to exploit these loops to boost sales; CEOs and coaches are using them to change how employees work and athletes compete. As this book shows, tweaking even one habit, as long as it's the right one, can have staggering effects.

In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes readers inside labs where brain scans record habits as they flourish and die; classrooms in which students learn to boost their willpower; and boardrooms where executives dream up products that tug on our deepest habitual urges.

It took a couple of months for me to move through the waiting list as it's a very popular book. There are 25 copies available and a waiting list of 64. For the real book, there are 862 holds fro the 171 copies the library owns.

The first section describing the habit loop was a little too long and redundant. I found myself skimming at the end but the next sections of the book I found extremely interesting. The story of how an every day thing we now do, brushing our teeth, became a habit for a nation. Apparently it is something people never did before the early 1900s.

I also loved the story of how Paul O'Neill came into Alcoa and created safety habits that ultimately turned the entire thinking of a money losing company around to an extremely successful one. How Target and Starbucks work on creating client habits was insightful too. Duhigg also writes about the habits involved with addiction, how AA works to change, not break the habits and the very sad story of Angie Bachmann, a gambling addict.

The jackpot for me was in Chapter 3 on how one therapist changed a chronic nail biters habit. I have to put this method into play myself.

Some sections of the book were boring but most were extremely interesting.

Well worth the time to get through those first two chapters.

1 comment:

Teena in Toronto said...

Yes, you biting your nails drives me nuts!!!!! Gross!

I'll give this book another try. I found the first chapter really boring and gave up on it.