The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg is not your ordinary motivation read. Frankly, it has very little to do with motivation and personal development in the conventional sense. However, once good habits take root in your life, it’s clear to see how recognizing our tendencies can provide leverage over negative patterns. The Power of Habit shows evidence for self-improvement and demonstrates possible growth through understanding.
Big Claims for Good Habits?
Now, how might a business related psychology book help better organize goals or a To-Do list? Easy, by addressing how groups influence our lives. It creates an impression that we are not in as much control as we may think. Instead, our actions are part of an intricate and connected cycle of routines. It isn’t so easy to recognize good habits from the bad, especially with so many other factors to play.
Let’s Start with the Business Side
A great example of the business side of habits would be Alcoa. Back in 1987, Alcoa was having an overhaul of leadership. Their CEO; a relatively under-experienced Paul O’Neill, took over and created a good habits culture shift.
Ordinarily, new CEOs pitch the same plans, “we need to be better structured, or we need to reach new sales highs.” But something different happened with Alcoa. Instead of worker productivity or better buildings, O’Neill took the habit approach. O’Neill decided to focus on safety. At first, the company was baffled, but soon after, Alcoa would adopt the new principles. Alcoa would go on to become one top performing companies in its field, not to mention one of the safest. How did safety do this?
Safety Helps Growth?
Safety wasn’t only about regulation. Safety for Alcoa was a way for the company to bond. It allowed for a work culture to band together and push for a cause. It wasn’t powerful just because it kept the company safer; it was powerful because it created a culture around safety. Alcoa showed better than any other at the time, how much our work culture matters to progress. And soon, people began working together to accomplish that goal. The positive cycle began. Soon, Alcoa was one group working alongside each other as a team, not as individuals like they once were. The numbers showed how successful a company like that is.
Alcoa In Depth
Alcoa showed how habits in a group play a part in our actions. Workers were no longer upset with the higher-ups because they felt heard. In Alcoa’s case, alongside this push for worker safety was a general feeling or worker priority. No longer was it the workers need to work better, but instead, we need to work better. Because of this, those habits followed. People felt positive going to work. They were rewarded for participating and growing each other. The cycle of productivity followed a happier, safety routine.
How Shopping Plays a Role
Maybe you’re thinking; this doesn’t apply to me. I’m not a CEO, and I’m not trying to change a company. And most likely, you’re right, but what The Power of Habit shows best is that this type of research plays more into our lives than just the company. It builds an understanding of just how impactful our routines are. Take Target for example, which tailors advertisements to customers with specific habits.
Target and Grabbing Customers
Target spends millions upon millions of dollars marketing to their customers. I mean, why wouldn’t they! And with so much money on the line, business who don’t target this aggressively won’t stay in business. Because of that, Target has gotten really good at knowing its customers. To the point where they’ll know months before the rest if someone is expecting. Most companies know once the baby is born, but Target can find out once the mother is newly pregnant. How is that possible?
Build a Profile, Find a Customer
Few things bring out our habits more than shopping. It’s no wonder companies have spent billions of dollars trying to pick up on all of these routines and grab loyal customers. One of the most valuable groups happens to be expecting mothers. Who besides spending large amounts before birth, can create life-long customers. And so, Target wanted to be able to track these groups and find a way to market to them first. It did so by establishing a Guest ID for every customer and then predicting who was most likely to be pregnant. And it did this, mostly using their shopping habits.
F.Y.I. – Target’s Guest ID contains information from across all aspects of a customer’s life. It goes quite far past what you might expect such as income estimates, credit card information, and how far Target estimates you are from their stores.
Bringing it all together
We’ve discussed a lot, from business to shopping. Each one showing another important aspect of our routines. Whether it was from a group perspective, seeing how patterns arise from companies, or from an individual approach, looking at how our grocery list tells so much about ourselves. Habits like these are ingrained parts of how we act. They show us pieces about our lives through their actions.
Paying attention to how they take place in our day-to-day is essential for growth. Both Alcoa and Target took a much larger scale approach, but you don’t have to. Recognizing which routines build good habits and which not so much, is an effective way to improve our lives. Being mindful about ourselves is crucial for our growth, for more on mindfulness see Motivation and Mindfulness.
Good Habits and Motivation
With all of that knowledge about how important habits are for companies, why not implement it yourself! It goes without saying that it is, can be, and has been difficult to change a sticky habit. But being mindful about your routines, like these companies were, gives you the advantage you need to overtake pesky negative routines. And instead, build patterns that grow you into a more motivated person chocked full of good habits.
As always, thanks for reading! I hope you’ve learned more about habits and why understanding the inner-workings of your mind can lead to great changes! Curious about the book, find it here!
For more terrific information on good habits and bad, check out this post from the author himself! Goods Habits Explained Here
First Blogger at Domincusation.com