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review 2017-08-16 17:32
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business - Charles Duhigg

I recently went to Barnes & Noble to buy some books for my birthday.  I found a table that had a buy 2 get 1 free deal, but you had to pick books on the table.  Immediately I knew two books I wanted.  I had no idea what I wanted for the third book.  So I meandered around, picked up a few different books, read a few different pages, and stumbled across this book.  I had never heard of it before, never heard of the author, and had no idea what it was about.  But I've always been interested in cognitive science (science of the brain) and a "why we do the things we do" study of psychology.  It peaked my interest enough where I picked it up and brought it home.  As soon as I started reading it, I realized I would need a highlighter for all of the morsels of knowledge Duhigg provides along the way.


The book covers three different sections.  The first section explains how habits form as part of every day life.  It breaks down the science behind the formation of habits and how we can change them.  The second part of the book shows how to focus on successful habits to grow an organization or company.  The third part looks at large society groups, like churches or the civil rights movement, and how they respond to habits.  Throughout each section, it continually reminds you how the habits are formed.


As I'm finishing the book, my group of friends has decided to go on a diet starting August 1st.  Here I am reading a book about understanding your habits (both good and bad), learning how to change bad habits and create new habits, and finding the insight to recognize why I may have failed before.  What wonderful insight it has provided for me!  I still have to put in the hard work, but at least I feel like I know what to look for now.  I can follow some of the advice and plans in the book to set myself up for a better chance at success.  I really am intrigued to know if my diet will be more successful now that I've read this book.


Not only did the book make me think about my upcoming diet plans with my friends, but it opened up the thought process for a number of different habits I've formed.  To quote from the first chapter, "more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day" aren't actual decisions, but habits.  If we can become more observant and retrospective as to why we have created habits for ourselves, it is remarkable to think of the outcome we may be able to have.  Of course, there are positive habits.  Not all of them are negative.  I guess the point is to sit and understand why the habit exists, if it is a positive or negative habit, and if there is a way to change it for the better.  I may not want to change every habit I have ever formed, but I'm hoping that this book has at least given me the option to change some of my habits for the better.

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review 2017-03-27 20:52
An inspiring and enlightening book on the topic, not a fast read or a practical manual.
Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business - Charles Duhigg

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK/Cornerstone for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I voluntarily choose to review.

I don’t read many self-help or how-to books although recently I’ve been reading some that intrigued me and this was one of them. After all, who doesn’t want to be smarter, go faster and do things better? We all want to be productive, so the title was a big hook for me, and I imagine I’m not alone.

Charles Duhigg is the author of a very popular, well-liked and positively reviewed book, the bestseller The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change. Although I noticed that many of the reviewers mentioned his previous book and drew comparisons, I haven’t read it and I won’t be able to add to that debate. (In short, a few of the reviewers felt that this book wasn’t as good or as useful, from a practical point of view, as the previous one). After reading the comments, now I’m curious about his previous book.

But, as for Smarter Faster Better, it is a book where the author explains how he started wondering about the different levels of productivity people obtain. We all know individuals whose days seem to last more than 24 hours if we’re to judge by the amount of activities and achievements they manage to pack in. In an attempt at trying to find out how they do it, Duhigg collected studies, reviewed theories, interviewed people, checked stories… The book, which is divided into a series of chapters (Motivation, Team, Focus, Goal Setting, Managing Others, Decision Making, Innovation, Absorbing Data, Appendix and Notes), consists of the discussions of some cases that Duhigg then uses to illustrate a point or theory about the particular item and its importance. On talking about motivation, Duhigg uses the case of a young man who didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life and eventually decided to join the Marines. He explains how their training focuses on making them attach a meaning to their chores, ask questions that remind each other of what their goal is and what they are trying to achieve, and also the importance of feeling one has a choice. In the chapter about goal setting, he asserts the importance of having two types of goals, SMART goals (we’ve all read about those) but also stretch goals, overarching goals that look at something bigger, as, otherwise, we might end up with a list of tiny little achievable goals that don’t build up to anything. I enjoyed the examples used (that include, among other: the Toyota way of running a factory, focused on making people feel free to report mistakes and also share their ideas for innovations, teachers’ creative use of data about their students to transform a failing school into a successful one, and also include the use of mental images by airline pilots that help them make the right decisions when things go wrong), and the hypotheses and advice make sense to me. The book is well written, and although some examples and cases will feel more relevant to some people than others, there is a big variety and I personally thought they all made interesting points and some were fascinating, to say the least.

Some of the reviewers complained about the fact that the book is not very practical. The author includes, in the appendix ‘A Reader’s Guide to Using These Ideas’ (I wonder if this is in response to comments or it had always been there) that summarises the concepts in the book, and applies them to the author’s difficulties finishing this book. This summary sets up some of the points as more relevant to individuals, and some to companies or teams. I’ve noticed that there’s a summary of the book available for sale separately (here), and I wonder if it might consist mostly of this part of the book (as it says: ‘in less than 30 minutes’). Although I guess the advice can be found there, what makes the book memorable, at least for me, are the stories and that ties in with one of the points in the book about absorbing data. The absorption and understanding of data can be increased by creating disfluency, by having to work with it and making it less accessible. That obliges us to engage with the data and to make it ours, to make it matter to us and to find ways of using it that might not be evident or interesting to others. Therefore, if you have to read the book and go through the case studies, you might appreciate other points of the stories and remember the cases as they are relevant to you, rather than trying to remember a point as a headline with no context. So yes, if you can and are interested in the topic, I would advise reading the whole book (and it isn’t quite as long as it looks like, as there are detailed notes about the studies at the end that take up the last 33% of the book). If you have doubts, you can always check a sample of the book. But if you just want a taster, I share a quote:

Productivity is about recognizing choices that other people often overlook. It’s about making certain decisions in certain ways. The way we choose to see our own lives; the stories we tell ourselves, and the goals we push ourselves to spell out in detail; the culture we establish among teammates; the ways we frame our choices and manage the information in our lives. Productive people and companies force themselves to make choices most other people are content to ignore. Productivity emerges when people push themselves to think differently.

I’m not sure if this book will make a massive difference to my productivity, but it has made me reflect on a number of things and I’m sure I’ll keep thinking about it for a long time. If I had to choose a point in particular, I’d say  it has made me think about team and group dynamics, and I particularly liked the concept of ‘psychological safety’ (a “shared belief, held by members of a team, that the group is a safe place for taking risks”). If only…

In summary, an inspiring book, full of cases and stories that deserve to be read in their own right and concepts and suggestions that will mean different things to different people. It’s not a quick read or a ‘follow these few steps and you’ll be more productive’ kind of book, but it’s a well-written, researched and thought-out book that might help us understand better what makes us tick.

 

 

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review 2016-02-28 23:48
Smarter Faster Better
Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business - Charles Duhigg

Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg address a topic often addressed - productivity - but does so in with broad philosophical brush rather than a precise prescription. The book is somewhat like reading a collection of well written, well told, and easily read stories rather than a cohesive powerful message on productivity.

 

Read my complete review at: Memories From Books - Smarter Faster Better

 

Reviewed based on a publisher’s galley received through NetGalley

 

Source: www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2016/02/smarter-faster-better.html
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review 2015-07-20 23:17
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business - Charles Duhigg, Read by Mike Chamberlain
The Power Of Habit claims to be a book that is key for the reader to learn how to make good habits. Such as habits to help a person to exercise, lose weight, raise children, and build a business. Author Charles Duhigg describes that making smaller good habits will help change the bad ones.

 

I listened to the audio version of The Power Of Habit.  I thought maybe listening to the audiobook my brain would able to absorb what needs to be done to create some good habits. Some of the stories were interesting including the one about Starbucks and others.

 

As I listened I realized that most of the book was really talking about examples of how others changed or already had habits and how they kept or change them.  Which was sadly not what I was looking for. I guess what I wanted was a workbook with The Power Of Habit.  I wanted to know where I begin not how someone else did. I needed a little more guidance.

 

This was the first self help book I listened to on audio and I think I will be doing more non-fiction by audio. Even though this is not what I was looking for it was still a interesting book.

 

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review 2015-06-22 18:35
The Power of Habit
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business - Charles Duhigg

This was my audio and non-fiction book of the month.

 

I loved it.

 

Author: Charles Duhigg
Rating: 4.5
 
 
Book Blurb: In The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

 

This book was not what I expected. And that's a great thing.

 

I guess I expected more of a systematic study of habits and a good portion of the book to be devoted to teaching you how to change habits or make new ones. While that is covered to a certain degree, this book thrived when it came to it's practical application. For example,  I loved the section on Tony Dungy and how habits helped his team win a Superbowl. I enjoyed the part on why Outkast's "Hey Ya" is now a hit. I had a great discussion with family over the Civil Rights section- found that fascinating.  And I have a few friends who work at Starbucks, so I know how well they treat their employees compared to other chains. This book gets into why. I could go on and on but I just want to say I enjoyed the heck out of this book. It's great on audio cuz the science is tied to such  interesting every day topics and applications, it was easy to follow along.

 

I highly recommend this book.

 

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