Book Review- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Feb 25, 2015


“Our habits will make us or our habits will break us.”

Charles Duhigg’s book,The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business is one of those books that you really wish everyone could read. We all have good habits and bad habits and we all know someone who would benefit from this book.

What I found fascinating about Duhigg’s book were the many case studies that he weaved into the text. Each story about an individual or an institution served to highlight the importance of our habits on our success or our failure in life. Take for example the story of Lisa. She had started smoking and drinking as a teenager. By her mid-twenties she was very obese, had over $10,000 in credit card debt, and could not hold down a steady job. It was also about this same time that her husband left her for another woman.

By her mid-thirties, however, Lisa had quit smoking, quit drinking, and had lost 60 lbs. She had a great job that she had held for over three years, had no outstanding debts, and had just purchased a home. She had recently run her first marathon and was working on her master’s degree.

What was it that caused such a dramatic change in Lisa’s life? Her husband leaving provided a crisis point for her that made her reevaluate her life. She started by setting a couple of goals. The only way she was going to be able to achieve her goals, however, was by changing some of her habits. For her, the first habit she chose to tackle was smoking. Success there gave her confidence to tackle some of her other bad habits. After a few years, her life had been totally transformed.

Duhigg explores the process that all of us can use to break bad habits or create new ones. The process is not that complicated but it does require that we be willing to work through it. Habits are not changed overnight. Lisa’s transformation took several years but every time she had a breakthrough and changed a habit was another step closer to where she wanted to be.

The Power of Habit also examines institutional habits. Duhigg provides a fascinating account of Coach Tony Dungy’s transformation of two NFL teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Indianapolis Colts. Both teams were transformed from losers to winners by Dungy’s focus on the team’s and the player’s habits.

The most successful people and the most successful organizations have tapped into the principles that The Power of Habit discusses. What about you? What bad habit would you like to break or change into something positive? Give this book a read and you can thank me later!

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