The Power of Habit

October 21, 2014 by

This is the most powerful non-fiction book I’ve read in a long time. If you have a bad habit you want to overcome, or a good one you want to start—also if you’re open to discovering either of these—this book is for you.

Duhigg tells some powerful stories here, and cites studies that are enlightening in their own right. What is unique about his handling of the content is how consistently he ties it all to practical application in real world circumstances. This dogged pragmatism is fitting, given the topic.

In one of the promotional videos for the book we can see how Duhigg identifies the way personal habit formation works, with reference to his own efforts to change a bad habit:

This text could almost be called a how-to manual, if it weren’t so thoroughly researched and well written as to serve more academic purposes just as well.

In addition to being useful for individuals, The Power of Habit is written for organizations. The second half of the book is focused on the power of individual habits within organizations and the trends of habit and culture that give rise to what Duhigg calls ‘organizational habits’.

Again we have an example, this time illustrating how the science of habits is used in the military.

If you manage people or run a company, you will find a lot to think about here. Duhigg’s manner of identifying potential problems and opportunities for constructive change holds more promise than most consultants will be able to offer.

A Marginal Note

Stylistically, a good balance of storytelling and social scientific reporting make the narrative more inviting than the typical title in this genre. The stories are not told in isolated segments, however, but are woven together in strands to illustrate the central themes of each section. This takes a bit of getting used to, but on the whole is helpful for recalling the various anecdotes that make Duhigg’s book an enlightening guide for any person or business with habits they would like to end or begin.

notes

For additional resources, videos, and teaching guides see the Resources page on Duhigg’s website.

Where to buy

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