Top Ten Quotes: The Power of Habit
I’ve had Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business on my “need to read” list for quite a while, and finally moved it to the top. I wasn’t disappointed. I love books that combine in-depth research with compelling stories and examples, and Duhigg’s work is full of both.
This is a book that works on a personal and corporate level. It helped me spot patterns in my own habits – good and bad – and how to change the bad into what I want them to be. And as a leader, it helped me identify ways to change corporate habits that have emerged on my team.
Here are my top ten favorite quotes:
- Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits.
- On the battlefield, every command that’s issued draws on behaviors practiced to the point of automation.
- 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 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.
- …to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.
- “Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.” (Mark Muraven)
- There are no organizations without institutional habits. There are only places where they are deliberately designed, and places where they are created without forethought, so they often grow from rivalries or fear.
- Creating successful organizations isn’t just a matter of balancing authority. For an organization to work, leaders must cultivate habits that both create a real and balanced peace and, paradoxically, make it absolutely clear who’s in charge.
- Movements don’t emerge because everyone suddenly decides to face the same direction at once. They rely on social patterns that begin as the habits of friendship, grow through the habits of communities, and are sustained by new habits that change participants’ sense of self.
- …once you understand how a habit operates—once you diagnose the cue, the routine and the reward—you gain power over it.
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