Ambitious people are always looking to improve their current realities. They are looking to improve various aspects of their lives, and find joy and happiness in the journey. If one seeks success, then one needs to make drastic changes in his day to day lifestyle which would eventually add up to success over a period of time. In other words, success is the sum of small efforts taken day in and day out. If we need to keep taking efforts over sustained periods of time, we need to develop positive habits. In this context, the Power Of Habit is one of those rare books that dives deep into the scientific, social and behavioral attributes in the study of habits.
I found this book to be unique and engaging as it provides sufficient case studies and examples from real life scenarios to explain and substantiate its claims and hypotesis. It is very interesting to note the large scale impact that habits have on us, as individuals, as organisations and then as a society at large. The book explains this impact in its three parts with relatable stories which adds to its appeal.
Scientific evidence suggests that habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. The brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, as it allows our minds to ramp down. The book builds its case for the role that habits play in our day to day life, not only at an individual level, but also at an organisational and social level. Habits formed in our brain can be explained in a three process 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 of physical, mental or emotional nature. Finally, there is a reward, which helps the brain remember if this particular loop is worth remembering for future use. Over time, this cue-routine-reward loop becomes more and more automatic and hence effortless. The cue and reward become so intertwined that a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges. That leads to the birth of a new habit. Fairly complex phenomena such as smoking addiction, drug abuse or mass political movements can be explained with this understanding of habits.
The book explains with scientific evidence as to why people cultivate and struggle with bad habits. In particular, it gives the case study of alcoholics anonymous, a self help group involved in helping people recover from alcohol abuse. Alcoholics crave for a drink because it offers escape, an emotional release, a momentary blunting of anxiety. The physical effects of alcohol are never the rewarding parts of drinking for addicts. Alcoholics Anonymous has figured out a way to replace the routine of drinking with meetings, conversation and companionship. The cue and the reward of feeling understood remain the same, but the routine changes. In this way the book explains the golden rule of habit change. There are many more relevent case studies which explain the concept and application of this rule of habit change. It makes for a very interesting read.
The book goes on to explain the drastic productivity changes that can happen in large organisations due to sucessful habit changes. The book talks about keystone habits, those habits that can result in a very dramatic change in large organisations. Paul O’ Neil took over as the CEO of Alco, a large aluminuim corporation. He focuses relentlessly on worker safety and brings in a routine of injury reporting. This case study connects the power of simple safety habits followed in routine and its connection to bottom line profits. It is quite exciting to read and understand how small habit changes can lead to exponential increase in productivity and profit with the case study of Alco.
The book helps one understand the importance and the power of habits in the large scale of things. It helps business leaders in particular to understand the common problems that a business might go through from a floor level. It shapes together the possible solutions to these problems by changing the habit of people. The book connects the dots brilliantly in ways that the reader might not have imagined. It keeps the reader hooked and excited to turn the pages. Anybody who has a commitment toward self impoverment should read this book because it explains the scientific, social and emotional aspects of building and correcting habits. One’s willpower to stay on track is what will lead to his success. The book helps in great detail in understanding the nature and attributes of willpower. It uses the case study of starbucks and Howard Schultz strategy of changing habits to explain the role of willpower in forming and changing habits.
The last part of the book talks about social change. It explains the secert of mass political movements with the habits of people. Again, there is case study and example that adds weight to the hypotesis. The reader can be assured that this book is well researched and very well articulated to keep the reader excited. It talks about making some very small and doable changes to ones lifestyles and the impact it can have over society at large. The knowledge in it is quite pratical and powerful. I would rcecommed this book to anyone who is serious about understanding how to develop positive habits. The book explains this and a lot more around habits, its scientific explainations, its real life case studies and its socio- economic impact. Its an enjoyable journey into oneself.
Happy Reading !