The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

1. The Habit Loop

Cue → routine → reward.

This loop is fueled by a craving for something.

For example, the craving for a milk shake makes you stop by Whataburger on the way home from work (hopefully this isn’t a habit for you .. not good)

CUE = Seeing whataburger

ROUTINE = Going to the drivethrough

REWARD = The first sip of milkshake

2. Keystone Habits

“Keystone habits say that success doesn’t depend on getting every single thing right, but instead relies on identifying a few key priorities and fashioning them into powerful levers.”

When you change a keystone habit for the better, other good things follow.

Paul O’Neill took over Alcoa, a century old aluminum company, as CEO in 1987. His priority? Safety. Investors thought he was a nutjob because who the hell focuses on safety over profits?

But by focusing on safety, Alcoa hit all-time highs in profit under O’Neill because:

  • Reducing the number of injuries equipment caused typically entailed making it more efficient
  • Raising safety concerns and making suggestions taught employees to also make suggestions about how to improve the quality of the product and the efficiency with which it was made; Alcoa execs were able to get boots-on-ground insights
  • Employees felt like Alcoa cared about them; they began caring too, and worked harder

Safety was the keystone habit, but it resulted in better quality and higher efficiency.

What keystone habit could unlock change in your life? A morning walk? A healthy breakfast every morning? Reading for 30 minutes each day? Doing something nice for someone else each day? Think about it.

3. The manipulative tactics used by Big Retail

Target made a customer database that allowed them to identify when women were pregnant, based on their shopping habits. They then targeted these women with ads for baby products like diapers and strollers.

Their system was so good that they managed to correctly predict when a teen girl was pregnant and begin sending her ads. Her father got upset and asked to speak with the manager; later, the manager called him personally to apologize.

He, too, apologized, after admitting that there were some going-ons in his household that he wasn’t privy too; his daughter had actually become pregnant and he hadn’t known.

TAKEAWAY: If you do business with a huge company, they’re probably using your habits against you. Receiving coupons for stuff you need isn’t a bad thing, but understand why it’s happening and engage concsciously.

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