Book Reviews

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg -Book Notes, Summary, and Review

The Power Of Habit - Charles Duhigg

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Rating: 8/10

Date of reading: 30th of January – 6th of February, 2017

Description: Every single habit has the same three-part structure. Cue – which is the signal to the start the routine, Routine – which is the internal or external action that we perform, and the Reward – the moment when you receive an internal of external reward for your behavior.

 

My notes:

 

PROLOGUE
The Habit Cure

 

“She showered and left the hotel. As she rode through Cairo’s rutted streets in a taxi and then onto the dirt roads leading to the Sphinx, the pyramids of Giza, and the vast, endless desert around them, her self-pity, for a brief moment, gave way. She needed a goal in her life, she thought. Something to work toward. So she decided, sitting in the taxi, that she would come back to Egypt and trek through the desert.” ( :7)

“By focusing on one pattern—what is known as a “keystone habit”—Lisa had taught herself how to reprogram the other routines in her life, as well.” ( :8)

“”You’re helping us understand how a decision becomes an automatic behavior,” the doctor told her.” ( :8)

“Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits. And though each habit means relatively little on its own, over time, the meals we order, what we say to our kids each night, whether we save or spend, how often we exercise, and the way we organize our thoughts and work routines have enormous impacts on our health, productivity, financial security, and happiness.” ( :8)

“When the major met with Kufa’s mayor, he made an odd request: Could they keep food vendors out of the plazas? Sure, the mayor said. A few weeks later, a small crowd gathered near the Masjid al-Kufa, or Great Mosque of Kufa. Throughout the afternoon, it grew in size. Some people started chanting angry slogans. Iraqi police, sensing trouble, radioed the base and asked U.S. troops to stand by. At dusk, the crowd started getting restless and hungry. People looked for the kebab sellers normally filling the plaza, but there were none to be found. The spectators left. The chanters became dispirited. By 8 P.M., everyone was gone.” ( :10)

“”I’m telling you, if a hick like me can learn this stuff, anyone can. I tell my soldiers all the time, there’s nothing you can’t do if you get the habits right.”” ( :11)

 

PART ONE: THE HABITS OF INDIVIDUALS

 

“quire’s studies would show that even someone who can’t remember his own age or almost anything else can develop habits that seem inconceivably complex—until you realize that everyone relies on similar neurological processes every day. His and others’ research would help reveal the subconscious mechanisms that impact the countless choices that seem as if they’re the products of well-reasoned thought, but actually are influenced by urges most of us barely recognize or understand.” ( :16)

“The surgery occurred in 1953, and as H.M. healed, his seizures slowed. Almost immediately, however, it became clear that his brain had been radically altered. H.M. knew his name and that his mother was from Ireland. He could remember the 1929 stock market crash and news reports about the invasion of Normandy. But almost everything that came afterward—all the memories, experiences, and struggles from most of the decade before his surgery—had been erased. When a doctor began testing H.M.’s memory by showing him playing cards and lists of numbers, he discovered that H.M. couldn’t retain any new information for more than twenty seconds or so. From the day of his surgery until his death in 2008, every person H.M. met, every song he heard, every room he entered, was a completely fresh experience. His brain was frozen in time. Each day, he” ( :16)

“was befuddled by the fact that someone could change the television channel by pointing a black rectangle of plastic at the screen. He introduced himself to his doctors and nurses over and over, 1.10 dozens of times each day.” ( :17)

“At the time, no one wondered how a man who couldn’t draw a map of his home was able to find the bathroom without hesitation. But that question, and others like it, would eventually lead to a trail of 1.11 discoveries that has transformed our understanding of habits’ power. It would help spark a scientific revolution that today involves hundreds of researchers who are learning, for the first time, to understand all the habits that influence our lives.” ( :18)

“Later that week, a visitor joined Eugene on his daily stroll. They walked for about fifteen minutes through the perpetual spring of Southern California, the scent of bougainvillea heavy in the air. Eugene didn’t say much, but he always led the way and seemed to know where he was going. He never asked for directions. As they rounded the corner near his house, the visitor asked Eugene where he lived. “I don’t know, exactly,” he said. Then he walked up his sidewalk, opened his front door, went into the living room, and turned on the television.” ( :19)

“And within their brains, something unexpected occurred: As each rat learned how to navigate the maze, its mental activity decreased. As the route became more and more automatic, each rat started thinking less and less.” ( :21)

“The basal ganglia, in other words, stored habits even while the rest of the brain went to sleep.” ( :21)

“This process—in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine—is known 1.18 as “chunking,” and it’s at the root of how habits form. There are dozens—if not hundreds—of behavioral chunks that we rely on every day. Some are simple: You automatically put toothpaste on your toothbrush before sticking it in your mouth. Some, such as getting dressed or making the kids’ lunch, are a little more complex.” ( :22)

“Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often. This effort-saving instinct is a huge advantage. An efficient brain requires less room, which makes for a smaller head, which makes childbirth easier and therefore causes fewer infant and mother deaths.” ( :23)

“or a smaller head, which makes childbirth easier and therefore causes fewer infant and mother deaths. An efficient brain also allows us to stop thinking constantly about basic behaviors, such as walking and choosing what to eat, so we can devote mental energy to inventing spears, irrigation systems, and, eventually, airplanes and video games.” ( :23)

“Those spikes are the brain’s way of determining when to cede control to a habit, and which habit to use. From behind a partition, for instance, it’s difficult for a rat to know if it’s inside a familiar maze or an unfamiliar cupboard with a cat lurking outside.” ( :24)

“This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future:” ( :24)

“”Then one day, we’ll put the reward in the old place, and put in the rat, and, by golly, the old habit will reemerge right away. Habits never really disappear. They’re encoded into the structures of our brain, and that’s a huge advantage for us, because it would be awful if we had to relearn how to drive after every vacation.” ( :24)

“To Squire, however, it made perfect sense. Eugene was exposed to a cue: a pair of objects always presented in the same combination. There was a routine: He would choose one object and look to see if there was a sticker underneath, even if he had no idea why he felt compelled to turn the cardboard over. Then there was a reward: the satisfaction he received after finding a sticker proclaiming “correct.” Eventually, a habit loop emerged.” ( :27)

“”That’s just a habit, I think,” he said. He couldn’t do it. The objects, when presented outside of the context of the habit loop, made no sense to him.” ( :27)

“Squire’s new experiment also showed something else: that habits are surprisingly delicate. If Eugene’s cues changed the slightest bit, his habits fell apart. The few times he walked around the block, for instance, and something was different—the city was doing street repairs or a windstorm had blown branches all over the sidewalk—Eugene would get lost, no matter how close he was to home, until a kind neighbor showed him the way to his door. If his daughter stopped to chat with him for ten seconds before she walked out, his anger habit never emerged.” ( :28)

“Every McDonald’s, for instance, looks the same—the company deliberately tries to standardize stores’ architecture and what employees say to customers, so everything is a consistent cue to trigger eating routines. The foods at some chains are specifically engineered to deliver immediate rewards— the fries, for instance, are designed to begin disintegrating the moment they hit your tongue, in order to deliver a hit of salt and grease as fast as possible, causing your pleasure centers to light up and your brain to lock in the pattern. All the better for tightening the habit loop.” ( :29)

“She discovered that she could short-circuit some of his worst patterns by inserting new cues. If she didn’t keep bacon in the fridge, Eugene wouldn’t eat multiple, unhealthy breakfasts. When she put a salad next to his chair, he would sometimes pick at it, and as the meal became a habit, he stopped searching the kitchen for treats. His diet gradually improved.” ( :30)

“My Life in Advertising, devoted long passages to the difficulties of spending so much money. Claude Hopkins was best known for a series of rules he coined explaining how to create new habits among consumers. These rules would transform industries and eventually became conventional wisdom among marketers, educational reformers, public health professionals, politicians, and CEOs. Even today, Hopkins’s rules influence everything from how we buy cleaning supplies to the tools governments use for eradicating disease. They are fundamental to creating any new routine.” ( :33)

“Eugene Pauly taught us about the habit loop, but it was Claude Hopkins that showed how new habits can be cultivated and grown. So what, exactly, did Hopkins do?” ( :34)

“He created a craving. And that craving, it turns out, is what makes cues and rewards work. That craving is what powers the habit loop.” ( :34)

“”Just run your tongue across your teeth,” read one. “You’ll feel a film—that’s what makes your teeth look ‘off color’ and invites decay.” “Note how many pretty teeth are seen everywhere,” read another ad, featuring smiling beauties. “Millions are using a new method of teeth cleansing. Why would any woman have dingy film on her 2.9 teeth? Pepsodent removes the film!”” ( :35)

“Moreover, the reward, as Hopkins envisioned it, was even more enticing. Who, after all, doesn’t want to be more beautiful? Who doesn’t want a prettier smile? Particularly when all it takes is a quick brush with Pepsodent?” ( :35)

“After the campaign launched, a quiet week passed. Then two. In the third week, demand exploded. There were so many orders for Pepsodent that the company couldn’t keep up. In three years, the product went international, and Hopkins was crafting ads in Spanish, German, and Chinese. Within a decade, Pepsodent was one of the top-selling goods in the world, and remained America’s bestselling toothpaste for more than thirty years.” ( :35)

“First, find a simple and obvious cue. Second, clearly define the rewards.” ( :36)

“They decided to call it Febreze,” ( :38)

“All of them were familiar with Claude Hopkins’s rules, or the modern incarnations that filled business school textbooks. They wanted to keep the ads simple: Find an obvious cue and clearly define the reward.” ( :39)

“They designed two television commercials. The first showed a woman talking about the smoking section of a restaurant. Whenever she eats there, her jacket smells like smoke. A friend tells her if she uses Febreze, it will eliminate the odor. The cue: the smell of cigarettes. The reward: odor eliminated from clothes.” ( :39)

“will eliminate the odor. The cue: the smell of cigarettes. The reward: odor eliminated from clothes. The second ad featured a woman worrying about her dog, Sophie, who always sits on 2.18 the couch. “Sophie will always smell like Sophie,” she says, but with Febreze, “now my furniture doesn’t have to.” The cue: pet smells, which are familiar to the seventy million households with 2.19 animals. The reward: a house that doesn’t smell like a kennel.” ( :39)

“Scents are strange; even the strongest fade with constant exposure. That’s why no one was using Febreze, Stimson realized. The product’s cue—the thing that was supposed to trigger daily use—was hidden from the people who needed it most. Bad scents simply weren’t noticed frequently enough to trigger a regular habit. As a result, Febreze” ( :41)

“are strange; even the strongest fade with constant exposure. That’s why no one was using Febreze, Stimson realized. The product’s cue—the thing that was supposed to trigger daily use—was hidden from the people who needed it most. Bad scents simply weren’t noticed frequently enough to trigger a regular habit. As a result, Febreze ended up in the back of a closet. The people with the greatest proclivity to use the spray never smelled the odors that should have reminded them the living room needed a spritz.” ( :41)

“In other words, the shapes on the monitor had become a cue not just for pulling a lever, but also for a pleasure response inside the monkey’s brain. Julio started expecting his reward as soon as he saw the yellow spirals and red squiggles.” ( :44)

“And within Julio’s brain, Schultz watched a new pattern emerge: craving. When Julio anticipated juice but didn’t receive it, a neurological pattern associated with desire and frustration erupted inside his skull. When Julio saw the cue, he started anticipating a juice-fueled joy. But if the juice didn’t arrive, that joy became a craving that, if unsatisfied, drove Julio to anger or depression.” ( :44)

“This explains why habits are so powerful: They create neurological cravings. Most of the time, these cravings emerge so gradually that we’re not really aware they exist, so we’re often blind to their influence. But as we associate cues with certain rewards, a subconscious craving emerges in our brains that starts the habit loop spinning.” ( :44)

“he noticed how Cinnabon stores were positioned inside shopping malls. Most food sellers locate their kiosks in food courts, but Cinnabon 2.24 tries to locate their stores away from other food stalls. Why? Because Cinnabon executives want the smell of cinnamon rolls to waft down hallways and around corners uninterrupted, so that shoppers will start subconsciously craving a roll. By the time a consumer turns a corner and sees the Cinnabon store, that craving is a roaring monster inside his head and he’ll reach, unthinkingly, for his wallet. The habit loop is spinning because a sense of craving has emerged.” ( :45)

“2.26 a craving that drives the loop. Take, for instance, smoking. When a smoker sees a cue— say, a pack of Marlboros—her brain starts anticipating a hit of nicotine. Just the sight of cigarettes is enough for the brain to crave a nicotine rush. If it doesn’t arrive, the craving grows until the smoker reaches, unthinkingly, for a Marlboro.” ( :46)

“BlackBerrys under the table, even if they know it’s probably only their latest fantasy football results. (On the other hand, if someone disables the buzzing—and, thus, removes the cue—people can work for hours without thinking to check their in-boxes.)” ( :46)

“However, the reason they continued—why it became a habit—was because of a specific reward they started to crave.” ( :47)

“In one group, 92 percent of people said they habitually exercised because it made them “feel good”— they grew to expect and crave the endorphins and other neurochemicals a workout provided. In another group, 67 percent of people said that working out gave them a sense of “accomplishment”— they had come to crave a regular sense of triumph from tracking their performances, and that selfreward was enough to make the physical activity into a habit.” ( :47)

“But countless studies have shown that a cue and a reward, on their own, aren’t enough for a new habit to last. Only when your brain starts expecting the reward— craving the endorphins or sense of accomplishment—will it become automatic to lace up your jogging shoes each morning. The cue, in addition to triggering a routine, must also trigger a craving for the reward to come.” ( :47)

“up the kids’ shoes, straightened the coffee table, and sprayed Febreze on the freshly cleaned carpet. “It’s nice, you know?” she said. “Spraying feels like a little mini-celebration when I’m done with a room.” At the rate she was using Febreze, Stimson estimated, she would empty a bottle every two weeks.” ( :49)

“”Each of them is doing something relaxing or happy when they finish cleaning,” he said. “We can build off that! What if Febreze was something that happened at the end of the cleaning routine, rather than the beginning? What if it was the fun part of making something cleaner?”” ( :50)

“he tagline had been “Gets bad smells out of fabrics.” It was rewritten as “Cleans life’s smells.”” ( :50)

“The irony is that a product manufactured to destroy odors was transformed into the opposite. Instead of eliminating scents on dirty fabrics, it became an air freshener used as the finishing touch, once things are already clean.” ( :50)

“But only once they created a sense of craving—the desire to make everything smell as nice as it looked—did Febreze become a hit. That craving is an essential part of the formula for creating new habits that Claude Hopkins, the Pepsodent ad man, never recognized.” ( :51)

“After Pepsodent started dominating the marketplace, researchers at competing companies scrambled to figure out why. What they found was that customers said that if they forgot to use Pepsodent, they realized their mistake because they missed that cool, tingling sensation in their mouths. They expected —they craved—that slight irritation. If it wasn’t there, their mouths didn’t feel clean.” ( :53)

“”Consumers need some kind of signal that a product is working,” Tracy Sinclair, who was a brand manager for Oral-B and Crest Kids Toothpaste, told me. “We can make toothpaste taste like anything —blueberries, green tea—and as long as it has a cool tingle, people feel like their mouth is clean. The tingling doesn’t make the toothpaste work any better. It just convinces people it’s doing the job.”” ( :53)

“Because there’s no craving that has made sunscreen into a daily habit. Some companies are trying to fix that by giving sunscreens a tingling sensation or something that lets people know they’ve applied it to their skin. They’re hoping it will cue an expectation the same way the craving for a tingling mouth reminds us to brush our teeth. They’ve already used similar tactics in hundreds of other products.” ( :54)

“”Foaming is a huge reward,” said Sinclair, the brand manager. “Shampoo doesn’t have to foam, but we add foaming chemicals because people expect it each time they wash their hair. Same thing with laundry detergent. And toothpaste—now every company adds sodium laureth sulfate to make toothpaste foam more. There’s no cleaning benefit, but people feel better when there’s a bunch of suds around their mouth. Once the customer starts expecting that foam, the habit starts growing.”” ( :54)

“All four times, the interviews hadn’t gone well. Part of the problem was Dungy’s coaching philosophy. In his job interviews, he would patiently explain his belief that the key to winning was changing players’ habits. He wanted to get players to stop making so many decisions during a game, he said. He wanted them to react automatically, habitually. If he could instill the right habits, his team would win. Period.” ( :56)

“”Champions don’t do extraordinary things,” Dungy would explain. “They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”” ( :56)

“So rather than creating new habits, Dungy was going to change players’ old ones. And the secret to changing old habits was using what was already inside players’ heads. Habits are a three-step loop— the cue, the routine, and the reward—but Dungy only wanted to attack the middle step, the routine. He knew from experience that it was easier to convince someone to adopt a new behavior if there was something familiar at the beginning and end.” ( :57)

“Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.” ( :57)

“That’s the rule: If you use the same cue, and provide the same reward, you can shift the routine and change the habit. Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and reward stay the same.” ( :57)

“Dungy’s system would eventually turn the Bucs into one of the league’s winningest teams. He would become the only coach in NFL history to reach the play-offs in ten consecutive years, the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl, and one of the most respected figures in professional athletics. His coaching techniques would spread throughout the league and all of sports. His approach would help illuminate how to remake the habits in anyone’s life. But all of that would come later. Today, in San Diego, Dungy just wanted to win.” ( :58)

“In football, milliseconds matter. So instead of teaching his players hundreds of formations, he has taught them only a handful, but they have practiced over and over until the behaviors are automatic. When his strategy works, his players can move with a speed that is impossible to overcome.” ( :58)

“So most observers fail to see what’s happening among the Buccaneers. As soon as Humphries took the snap, Upshaw sprang into action. Within the first second of the play, he darted right, across the line of scrimmage, so fast the offensive lineman couldn’t block him. Within the next second, Upshaw ran four more paces downfield, his steps a blur. In the next second, Upshaw moved three strides closer to the quarterback, his path impossible for the offensive lineman to predict.” ( :59)

“”It feels like something was different out there,” Lynch says as they walk into the tunnel. “We’re starting to believe,” Dungy replies.” ( :59)

“Bill Wilson would never have another drink. For the next thirty-six years, until he died of emphysema in 1971, he would devote himself to founding, building, and spreading Alcoholics Anonymous, until it became the largest, most well-known and successful habit-changing organization in the world.” ( :61)

“All of which is somewhat unexpected, because AA has almost no grounding in science or most accepted therapeutic methods.” ( :61)

“What’s interesting about AA, however, is that the program doesn’t directly attack many of the psychiatric or biochemical issues that researchers say are often at the core of why alcoholics 3.14 drink. In fact, AA’s methods seem to sidestep scientific and medical findings altogether, as well as 1 the types of intervention many psychiatrists say alcoholics really need. 3.15 What AA provides instead is a method for attacking the habits that surround alcohol use. AA, in essence, is a giant machine for changing habit loops. And though the habits associated with alcoholism are extreme, the lessons AA provides demonstrate how almost any habit—even the most obstinate—can be changed.” ( :61)

“Take, for instance, AA’s insistence that alcoholics attend “ninety meetings in ninety days”—a stretch of time, it appears, chosen at random. Or the program’s intense focus on spirituality, as articulated in step three, which says that alcoholics can achieve sobriety by making “a decision to turn our will and 3.18 our lives over to the care of God as we understand him.” Seven of the twelve steps mention God or spirituality, which seems odd for a program founded by a onetime agnostic who, throughout his” ( :61)

“life, was openly hostile toward organized religion. AA meetings don’t have a prescribed schedule or curriculum. Rather, they usually begin with a member telling his or her story, after which other people can chime in. There are no professionals who guide conversations and few rules about how meetings are supposed to function. In the past five decades, as almost every aspect of psychiatry and addiction research has been revolutionized by discoveries in behavioral sciences, pharmacology, and our understanding of the brain, AA has remained frozen in time.” ( :62)

“You have to keep the same cues and rewards as before, and feed the craving by inserting a new routine.” ( :62)

“”It seems ridiculously simple, but once you’re aware of how your habit works, once you recognize the cues and rewards, you’re halfway to changing it,” Nathan Azrin, one of the developers of habit 3.25 reversal training, told me. “It seems like it should be more complex. The truth is, the brain can be reprogrammed. You just have to be deliberate about it.”” ( :66)

“”Those are the supposed reasons,” Dungy said. “Now here is a fact: Nobody is going to outwork us.” Dungy’s strategy, he explained, was to shift the team’s behaviors until their performances were automatic. He didn’t believe the Buccaneers needed the thickest playbook. He didn’t think they had to memorize hundreds of formations. They just had to learn a few key moves and get them right every time.” ( :68)

“But slowly, they began to improve. Eventually, the patterns became so familiar to players that they unfolded automatically when the team took the field. In Dungy’s second season as coach, the Bucs won their first five games and went to the play-offs for the first time in fifteen years. In 1999, they won the division championship.” ( :69)

“”We would practice, and everything would come together and then we’d get to a big game and it was like the training disappeared,” Dungy told me. “Afterward, my players would say, ‘Well, it was a critical play and I went back to what I knew,’ or ‘I felt like I had to step it up.’ What they were really saying was they trusted our system most of the time, but when everything was on the line, that belief broke down.”” ( :69)

“At the conclusion of the 2001 season, after the Bucs had missed the Super Bowl for the second straight year, the team’s general manager asked Dungy to come to his house. He parked near a huge oak tree, walked inside, and thirty seconds later was fired.” ( :69)

“The Bucs would go on to win the Super Bowl the next year using Dungy’s formations and players, and by relying on the habits he had shaped. He would watch on television as the coach who replaced him lifted up the Lombardi trophy. But by then, he would already be far away.” ( :70)

“Researchers hated that explanation. God and spirituality are not testable hypotheses. Churches are filled with drunks who continue drinking despite a pious faith. In conversations with addicts, though, spirituality kept coming up again and again. So in 2005, a group of scientists—this time affiliated with UC Berkeley, Brown University, and the National Institutes of Health—began asking alcoholics 3.32 about all kinds of religious and spiritual topics. Then they looked at the data to see if there was any correlation between religious belief and how long people stayed sober.” ( :72)

“However, those alcoholics who believed, like John in Brooklyn, that some higher power had entered their lives were more likely to make it through the stressful periods with their sobriety intact.” ( :72)

“Belief was the ingredient that made a reworked habit loop into a permanent behavior.” ( :72)

“”Belief is the biggest part of success in professional football,” Dungy told me. “The team wanted to believe, but when things got really tense, they went back to their comfort zones and old habits.”” ( :74)

“Dungy’s son Jamie had been brought into the hospital earlier in the evening, she said, with compression injuries on his throat. His girlfriend had found him hanging in his apartment, a belt around his neck. Paramedics had rushed him to the hospital, but efforts at revival were 3.34 unsuccessful. He was gone.” ( :74)

“”Life will never be the same again,” the chaplain told them, “but you won’t always feel like you do right now.”” ( :74)

“”I had spent a lot of previous seasons worrying about my contract and salary,” said one player who, like others, spoke about that period on the condition of anonymity. “When Coach came back, after the funeral, I wanted to give him everything I could, to take away his hurt. I kind of gave myself to the team.” “Some men like hugging each other,” another player told me. “I don’t. I haven’t hugged my sons in a decade. But after Coach came back, I walked over and I hugged him as long as I could, because I wanted him to know that I was there for him.”” ( :75)

“In a 1994 Harvard study that examined people who had radically changed their lives, for instance, researchers found that some people had remade their habits after a personal tragedy, such as a 3.35 divorce or a life-threatening illness. Others changed after they saw a friend go through something awful, the same way that Dungy’s players watched him struggle.” ( :75)

“When people join groups where change seems possible, the potential for that change to occur becomes more real.” ( :75)

“”Change occurs among other people,” one of the psychologists involved in the study, Todd Heatherton, told me. “It seems real when we can see it in other people’s eyes.”” ( :76)

“Jackson, the Colts cornerback, was already running at an angle, following his habits. He rushed past the receiver’s right shoulder, cutting in front of him just as the ball arrived. Jackson plucked the ball out of the air for an interception, ran a few more steps and then slid to the ground, hugging the ball to his chest. The whole play had taken less than five seconds. The game was over. Dungy and the Colts had won.” ( :77)

“Two weeks later, they won the Super Bowl. There are dozens of reasons that might explain why the Colts finally became champions that year. Maybe they got lucky. Maybe it was just their time. But Dungy’s players say it’s because they believed, and because that belief made everything they had learned—all the routines they had practiced until they became automatic—stick, even at the most stressful moments.” ( :77)

“”We’re proud to have won this championship for our leader, Coach Dungy,” Peyton Manning told the crowd afterward, cradling the Lombardi Trophy. Dungy turned to his wife. “We did it,” he said.” ( :77)

“But that’s not enough. For a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible. And most often, that belief only emerges with the help of a group.” ( :78)

 

PART TWO: THE HABITS OF SUCCESSFUL ORGANIZATIONS

 

“”If you want to understand how Alcoa is doing, you need to look at our workplace safety figures. If we bring our injury rates down, it won’t be because of cheerleading or the nonsense you sometimes hear from other CEOs. It will be because the individuals at this company have agreed to become part of something important: They’ve devoted themselves to creating a habit of excellence. Safety will be an indicator that we’re making progress in changing our habits across the entire institution. That’s how we should be judged.”” ( :83)

“Within a year of O’Neill’s speech, Alcoa’s profits would hit a record high. By the time O’Neill retired in 2000, the company’s annual net income was five times larger than before he arrived, and its market capitalization had risen by $27 billion. Someone who invested a million dollars in Alcoa on the day O’Neill was hired would have earned another million dollars in dividends while he headed the company, and the value of their stock would be five times bigger when he left.” ( :83)

“”I knew I had to transform Alcoa,” O’Neill told me. “But you can’t order people to change. That’s not how the brain works. So I decided I was going to start by focusing on one thing. If I could start” ( :83)

“disrupting the habits around one thing, it would spread throughout the entire company.”” ( :84)

“O’Neill believed that some habits have the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as they move through an organization. Some habits, in other words, matter more than others in remaking businesses and lives. These are “keystone habits,” and they can influence how people work, eat, play, live, spend, and communicate. Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything.” ( :84)

“”Make a Difference.” After graduating in 1960, at a friend’s encouragement, O’Neill picked up an application for a federal internship and, along with three hundred thousand others, took the government employment exam. Three thousand people were chosen for interviews. Three hundred of them were offered jobs. O’Neill was one.” ( :84)

“”Most of the time, no one ever asked if the town wanted a hospital. The bureaucrats had gotten into a habit of solving every medical problem by building something so that a congressman could say, ‘Here’s what I did!’ It didn’t make any sense, but everybody did the same thing again and again.”” ( :85)

“”Individuals have habits; groups have routines,” wrote the academic Geoffrey Hodgson, who spent a career examining organizational patterns. “Routines are the organizational analogue of habits.”” ( :85)

“Some departments at NASA, for instance, were overhauling themselves by deliberately instituting organizational routines that encouraged engineers to take more risks. When unmanned rockets exploded on takeoff, department heads would applaud, so that everyone would know their division had tried and failed, but at least they had tried. Eventually, mission control filled with applause every time something expensive blew up. It became an organizational habit.” ( :85)

“”Every time I looked at a different part of the government, I found these habits that seemed to explain why things were either succeeding or failing,” O’Neill told me. “The best agencies understood the importance of routines. The worst agencies were headed by people who never thought about it, and then wondered why no one followed their orders.”” ( :86)

“O’Neill figured his top priority, if he took the job, would have to be something that everybody— unions and executives—could agree was important. He needed a focus that would bring people together, that would give him leverage to change how people worked and communicated.” ( :86)

“”I went to basics,” he told me. “Everyone deserves to leave work as safely as they arrive, right? You shouldn’t be scared that feeding your family is going to kill you. That’s what I decided to focus on: changing everyone’s safety habits.”” ( :86)

“What most people didn’t realize, however, was that O’Neill’s plan for getting to zero injuries entailed the most radical realignment in Alcoa’s history. The key to protecting Alcoa employees, O’Neill believed, was understanding why injuries happened in the first place. And to understand why injuries happened, you had to study how the manufacturing process was going wrong. To understand how things were going wrong, you had to bring in people who could educate workers about quality control and the most efficient work processes, so that it would be easier to do everything right, since correct work is also safer work.” ( :87)

“In other words, to protect workers, Alcoa needed to become the best, most streamlined aluminum company on earth.” ( :87)

“Unit presidents were busy people. To contact O’Neill within twenty-four hours of an injury, they needed to hear about an accident from their vice presidents as soon as it happened. So vice presidents needed to be in constant communication with floor managers. And floor managers needed to get workers to raise warnings as soon as they saw a problem and keep a list of suggestions nearby, so that when the vice president asked for a plan, there was an idea box already full of possibilities. To make all of that happen, each unit had to build new communication systems that made it easier for the lowliest worker to get an idea to the loftiest executive, as fast as possible. Almost everything about the company’s rigid hierarchy had to change to accommodate O’Neill’s safety program. He was building new corporate habits.” ( :87)

“”Two or three years ago, I’m in my office, looking at the Ninth Street bridge out the window, and there’s some guys working who aren’t using correct safety procedures,” said Jeff Shockey, Alcoa’s current safety director. One of them was standing on top of the bridge’s guardrail, while the other held on to his belt. They weren’t using safety harnesses or ropes. “They worked for some company that has nothing to do with us, but without thinking about it, I got out of my chair, went down five flights of stairs, walked over the bridge and told these guys, hey, you’re risking your life, you have to use your harness and safety gear.” The men explained their supervisor had forgotten to bring the equipment. So Shockey called the local Occupational Safety and Health Administration office and turned the supervisor in.” ( :88)

“”Another executive told me that one day, he stopped at a street excavation near his house because they didn’t have a trench box, and gave everyone a lecture on the importance of proper procedures. It was the weekend, and he stopped his car, with his kids in the back, to lecture city workers about trench safety. That isn’t natural, but that’s kind of the point. We do this stuff without thinking about it now.”” ( :88)

“If molten metal was injuring workers when it splashed, then the pouring system was redesigned, which led to fewer injuries. It also saved money because Alcoa lost less raw materials in spills. If a machine kept breaking down, it was replaced, which meant there was less risk of a broken gear snagging an employee’s arm. It also meant higher quality products because, as Alcoa discovered, equipment malfunctions were a chief cause of subpar aluminum.” ( :88)

“Keystone habits offer what is known within academic literature as “small wins.” They help other habits to flourish by creating new structures, and they establish cultures where change becomes contagious.” ( :89)

“The videotape wasn’t real. Rather, it was a mental visualization of the perfect race. Each night before falling asleep and each morning after waking up, Phelps would imagine himself jumping off the blocks and, in slow motion, swimming flawlessly. He would visualize his strokes, the walls of the pool, his turns, and the finish. He would imagine the wake behind his body, the water dripping off his lips as his mouth cleared the surface, what it would feel like to rip off his cap at the end. He would lie in bed with his eyes shut and watch the entire competition, the smallest details, again and again, until he knew each second by heart.” ( :91)

“”small win.”” ( :91)

“professor wrote in 1984. “Once a small win has been 4.14 accomplished, forces are set in motion that favor another small win.” Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.” ( :91)

“”Small wins do not combine in a neat, linear, serial form, with each step being a demonstrable step closer to some predetermined goal,” wrote Karl Weick, a prominent organizational psychologist. “More common is the circumstance where small wins are scattered … like miniature experiments that test implicit theories about resistance and opportunity and uncover both resources and barriers that were invisible before the situation was stirred up.”” ( :92)

“He felt totally relaxed as he swam at full strength. Midway through the lap he began to increase his effort, a final eruption that had become one of his main techniques in overwhelming opponents. At eighteen strokes, he started anticipating the wall. He could hear the crowd roaring, but since he was blind, he had no idea if they were cheering for him or someone else. Nineteen strokes, then twenty. It felt like he needed one more. That’s what the videotape in his head said. He made a twenty-first, huge stroke, glided with his arm outstretched, and touched the wall. He had timed it perfectly. When he ripped off his goggles and looked up at the scoreboard, it said “WR”—world record—next to his name. He’d won another gold.” ( :93)

“”We killed this man,” a grim-faced O’Neill told the group. “It’s my failure of leadership. I caused his death. And it’s the failure of all of you in the chain of command.”” ( :93)

“Paul had come in as an outsider, and there was a lot of skepticism when he talked about safety,” said Bill O’rourke, a top executive. “We figured it would last a few weeks, and then he would start focusing on something else. But that meeting really shook everyone up. He was serious about this stuff, serious enough that he would stay up nights worrying about some employee he’d never met. That’s when things started to change.”” ( :94)

“”I said to the hourly workers, ‘If your management doesn’t follow up on safety issues, then call me at home, here’s my number,’ ” O’Neill told me. “Workers started calling, but they didn’t want to talk about accidents. They wanted to talk about all these other great ideas.”” ( :94)

“One day, a low-level employee made a suggestion that quickly worked its way to the general manager: If they grouped all the painting machines together, they could switch out the pigments faster and become more nimble in responding to shifts in customer demand. Within a year, profits on aluminum siding doubled.” ( :94)

“”It turns out this guy had been suggesting this painting idea for a decade, but hadn’t told anyone in management,” an Alcoa executive told me. “Then he figures, since we keep on asking for safety recommendations, why not tell them about this other idea? It was like he gave us the winning lottery” ( :94)

“numbers.”” ( :95)

“Some research, for instance, suggested that the biggest cause of infant deaths was premature births. And the reason babies were born too early was that mothers suffered from malnourishment during pregnancy. So to lower infant mortality, improve mothers’ diets. Simple, right? But to stop malnourishment, women had to improve their diets before they became pregnant. Which meant the government had to start educating women about nutrition before they became sexually active. Which meant officials had to create nutrition curriculums inside high schools.” ( :96)

“However, when O’Neill began asking about how to create those curriculums, he discovered that many high school teachers in rural areas didn’t know enough basic biology to teach nutrition. So the government had to remake how teachers were getting educated in college, and give them a stronger grounding in biology so they could eventually teach nutrition to teenage girls, so those teenagers would eat better before they started having sex, and, eventually, be sufficiently nourished when they had children.” ( :96)

“4.22 Today, the U.S. infant mortality rate is 68 percent lower than when O’Neill started the job.” ( :96)

“O’Neill’s experiences with infant mortality illustrate the second way that keystone habits encourage change: by creating structures that help other habits to flourish.” ( :96)

“But this keystone habit—food journaling—created a structure that helped other habits to flourish. Six months into the study, people who kept daily food records had lost twice as much weight as everyone else.” ( :97)

“By 1996, Paul O’Neill had been at Alcoa for almost a decade. His leadership had been studied by the Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government. He was regularly mentioned as a potential commerce secretary or secretary of defense. His employees and the unions gave him high marks. Under his watch, Alcoa’s stock price had risen more than 200 percent. He was, at last, a universally acknowledged success.” ( :98)

“”Did Bob Barton know that people had gotten sick?” “We didn’t meet with him,” they answered. “But, yeah, it’s pretty clear he knew.” Two days later, Barton was fired.” ( :99)

“Two days later, Barton was fired. The exit shocked outsiders. Barton had been mentioned in articles as one of the company’s most valuable executives. His departure was a blow to important joint ventures. Within Alcoa, however, no one was surprised. It was seen as an inevitable extension of the culture that O’Neill had built. “Barton fired himself,” one of his colleagues told me. “There wasn’t even a choice there.”” ( :99)

“”It might have been hard at another company to fire someone who had been there so long,” O’Neill told me. “It wasn’t hard for me. It was clear what our values dictated. He got fired because he didn’t report the incident, and so no one else had the opportunity to learn from it. Not sharing an opportunity to learn is a cardinal sin.”” ( :99)

“Cadets who are successful at West Point arrive at the school armed with habits of mental and physical discipline. Those assets, however, only carry you so far. To succeed, they need a keystone habit that creates a culture—such as a daily gathering of like-minded friends—to help find the strength to overcome obstacles. Keystone habits transform us by creating cultures that make clear the values that, in the heat of a difficult decision or a moment of uncertainty, we might otherwise forget.” ( :100)

“Companies and organizations across America, in the meantime, have embraced the idea of using keystone habits to remake workplaces. At IBM, for instance, Lou Gerstner rebuilt the firm by initially concentrating on one keystone habit: IBM’s research and selling routines. At the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, a culture of continuous improvement is created through a keystone habit of wide-ranging internal critiques that are at the core of every assignment. Within Goldman Sachs, a keystone habit of risk assessment undergirds every decision.” ( :100)

“”When I was made a plant manager,” said Jeff Shockey, the Alcoa executive, “the first day I pulled into the parking lot I saw all these parking spaces near the front doors with people’s titles on them. The head guy for this or that. People who were important got the best parking spots. The first thing I did was tell a maintenance manager to paint over all the titles. I wanted whoever got to work earliest to get the best spot. Everyone understood the message: Every person matters. It was an extension of what Paul was doing around worker safety. It electrified the plant. Pretty soon, everyone was getting to work earlier each day.”” ( :100)

“However, O’Neill’s politics did not line up with those of President Bush, and he launched an internal fight opposing Bush’s proposed tax cuts. He was asked to resign at the end of 2002. “What I thought was the right thing for economic policy was the opposite of what the White House wanted,” O’Neill told me. “That’s not good for a treasury secretary, so I got fired.”” ( :100)

“At the core of that education is an intense focus on an all-important habit: willpower. Dozens of 5.1 studies show that willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success. In a 2005 study, for instance, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania analyzed 164 eighth-grade students, measuring their IQs and other factors, including how much willpower the students demonstrated, as measured by tests of their self-discipline.” ( :105)

“which students would improve their grades over the course of the school year, whereas IQ did not…. Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellectual talent.” ( :105)

“So how does Starbucks do it? How do they take people like Travis—the son of drug addicts and a high school dropout who couldn’t muster enough self-control to hold down a job at McDonald’s—and teach him to oversee dozens of employees and tens of thousands of dollars in revenue each month? What, precisely, did Travis learn?” ( :105)

“Years later, they tracked down many of the study’s participants. By now, they were in high school. The researchers asked about their grades and SAT scores, ability to maintain friendships, and their capacity to “cope with important problems.” They discovered that the four-year-olds who could delay gratification the longest ended up with the best grades and with SAT scores 210 points higher, on average, than everyone else.” ( :106)

“their willpower muscles in one part of their lives—in the gym, or a money management program— that strength spilled over into what they ate or how hard they worked. Once willpower became stronger, it touched everything.” ( :110)

“”When you learn to force yourself to practice for an hour or run fifteen laps, you start building self-regulatory strength. A fiveyear-old who can follow the ball for ten minutes becomes a sixth grader who can start his homework on time.”” ( :110)

“People expect an expensive latte delivered with a bit of sparkle. “We’re not in the coffee business serving people,” Howard Behar, the former president of Starbucks, told me. “We’re in the people business serving coffee. Our entire business model is based on fantastic customer service. Without that, we’re toast.”” ( :111)

“”This workbook is for you to imagine unpleasant situations, and write out a plan for responding,” the manager said. “One of the systems we use is called the LATTE method. We Listen to the customer, Acknowledge their complaint, Take action by solving the problem, Thank them, and then Explain why 5.19 the problem occurred.” ( :114)

“For instance, at Deloitte Consulting, the largest tax and financial services company in the world, employees are trained in a curriculum named “Moments That Matter,” which focuses on dealing with inflection points such as when a client complains about fees, when a colleague is fired, or when a Deloitte consultant has made a mistake. For each of those moments, there are preprogrammed routines—Get Curious, Say What No One Else Will, Apply the 5/5/5 Rule—that guide employees in how they should respond.” ( :115)

“When he was seven years old, Schultz’s father broke his ankle and lost his job driving a diaper truck. That was all it took to throw the family into crisis. His father, after his ankle healed, began cycling through a series of lower-paying jobs. “My dad never found his way,” Schultz told me. “I saw his self-esteem get battered. I felt like there was so much more he could have accomplished.”” ( :116)

“Xerox salesman in New York City. He’d wake up every morning, go to a new midtown office building, take the elevator to the top floor, and go door-to-door, politely inquiring if anyone was interested in toner or copy machines. Then he’d ride the elevator down one floor and start all over again.” ( :116)

“Why did Schultz turn out so different from all the other kids on that playground? Some of his old classmates are today cops and firemen in Brooklyn. Others are in prison. Schultz is worth more than $1 billion. He’s been heralded as one of the greatest CEOs of the twentieth century. Where did he find the determination—the willpower—to climb from a housing project to a private jet?” ( :116)

“”I’ve been really lucky,” he said. “And I really, genuinely believe that if you tell people that they have what it takes to succeed, they’ll prove you right.”” ( :116)

“He put undergraduates in a room that contained a plate of warm, fresh cookies and asked them to ignore the treats. Half the participants were treated kindly. “We ask that you please don’t eat the cookies. Is that okay?” a researcher said. She then discussed the purpose of the experiment, explaining that it was to measure their ability to resist temptations. She thanked them for contributing their time. “If you have any suggestions or thoughts about how we can improve this experiment, please let me know. We want you to help us make this experience as good as possible.” The other half of the participants weren’t coddled the same way. They were simply given orders. “You must not eat the cookies,” the researcher told them. She didn’t explain the experiment’s goals, compliment them, or show any interest in their feedback. She told them to follow the instructions. “We’ll start now,” she said.” ( :117)

“This has become a standard way to measure willpower—paying attention to a boring sequence of flashing numbers requires a focus akin to working on an impossible puzzle.” ( :117)

“Students who had been treated kindly did well on the computer test. Whenever a “6” flashed and a “4” followed, they pounced on the space bar. They were able to maintain their focus for the entire twelve minutes. Despite ignoring the cookies, they had willpower to spare. Students who had been treated rudely, on the other hand, did terribly. They kept forgetting to hit the space bar. They said they were tired and couldn’t focus. Their willpower muscle, researchers” ( :117)

“determined, had been fatigued by the brusque instructions.” ( :118)

“When Muraven started exploring why students who had been treated kindly had more willpower he found that the key difference was the sense of control they had over their experience. “We’ve found this again and again,” Muraven told me. “When people are asked to do something that takes selfcontrol, if they think they are doing it for personal reasons—if they feel like it’s a choice or something they enjoy because it helps someone else—it’s much less taxing. If they feel like they have no autonomy, if they’re just following orders, their willpower muscles get tired much faster. In both cases, people ignored the cookies. But when the students were treated like cogs, rather than people, it took a lot more willpower.”” ( :118)

“One 2010 study at a manufacturing plant in Ohio, for instance, scrutinized assembly-line workers who were empowered to 5.24 make small decisions about their schedules and work environment. They designed their own uniforms and had authority over shifts. Nothing else changed. All the manufacturing processes and pay scales stayed the same. Within two months, productivity at the plant increased by 20 percent. Workers were taking shorter breaks. They were making fewer mistakes. Giving employees a sense of control improved how much self-discipline they brought to their jobs.” ( :118)

“The same lessons hold true at Starbucks. Today, the company is focused on giving employees a greater sense of authority. They have asked workers to redesign how espresso machines and cash registers are laid out, to decide for themselves how customers should be greeted and where merchandise should be displayed. It’s not unusual for a store manager to spend hours discussing with his employees where a blender should be located. “We’ve started asking partners to use their intellect and creativity, rather than telling them ‘take the coffee out of the box, put the cup here, follow this rule,’ ” said Kris Engskov, a vice president at Starbucks. “People want to be in control of their lives.” Turnover has gone down. Customer satisfaction is up. Since Schultz’s return, Starbucks has boosted revenues by more than $1.2 billion per year.” ( :118)

“”If he had died a year later, everything would have been different,” Travis told me. By then, he would have known how to calmly plead with the nurse. He would have known to acknowledge her authority, and then ask politely for one small exception. He could have gotten inside the hospital. Instead, he gave up and walked away. “I said, ‘All I want to do is talk to him once,’ and she was like, ‘He’s not even awake, it’s after visiting hours, come back tomorrow.’ I didn’t know what to say. I felt so small.”” ( :119)

“Travis’s father died that night.” ( :119)

“”You’re supposed to be here for this, Doctor,” she replied. “You can handle it,” the surgeon said, as he walked toward the door. “Doctor, I don’t feel this is appropriate.” The doctor stopped and looked at her. “If I want your damn opinion, I’ll ask for it,” he said. “Don’t ever question my authority again. If you can’t do your job, get the hell out of my OR.”” ( :122)

“The nurse led the time-out, retrieved the doctor a few minutes later, and the procedure occurred without complication. She never contradicted a physician again, and never said anything when other safety policies were ignored.” ( :122)

“Blue meant ‘nice,’ red meant ‘jerk,’ and black meant, ‘whatever you do, don’t contradict them or they’ll take your head off.’ “” ( :122)

“Afterward, the patient was taken to the intensive care unit, but he never regained full consciousness. Two weeks later, he died.” ( :124)

“There are no organizations without institutional habits. There are only places where they are deliberately designed, and places where they are created without forethought, so they often grow from rivalries or fear.” ( :124)

“When An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change was first published in 1982” ( :125)

“”Much of firm behavior,” they wrote, is best “understood as a reflection of general habits and strategic orientations coming from the firm’s past,” rather than “the result of a detailed survey of the remote twigs of the decision tree.”” ( :125)

“Or, put in language that people use outside of theoretical economics, it may seem like most organizations make rational choices based on deliberate decision making, but that’s not really how companies operate at all. Instead, firms are guided by long-held organizational habits, patterns that 6.16 often emerge from thousands of employees’ independent decisions. And these habits have more profound impacts than anyone previously understood.” ( :125)

“These organizational habits—or “routines,” as Nelson and Winter called them—are enormously 6.17 important, because without them, most companies would never get any work done. Routines 6.18, 6.19 provide the hundreds of unwritten rules that companies need to operate. They allow workers to experiment with new ideas without having to ask for permission at every step. They provide a kind” ( :125)

“of “organizational memory,” so that managers don’t have to reinvent the sales process every six months or panic each time a VP quits.” ( :126)

“The critical issue at Rhode Island Hospital was that the nurses were the only ones giving up power to strike a truce. It was the nurses who double-checked patients’ medications and made extra efforts to write clearly on charts; the nurses who absorbed abuse from stressed-out doctors; the nurses who helped separate kind physicians from the despots, so the rest of the staff knew who tolerated operating-room suggestions and who would explode if you opened your mouth. The doctors often didn’t bother to learn the nurses’ names. “The doctors were in charge, and we were underlings,” one nurse told me. “We tucked our tails and survived.”” ( :128)

“The Underground was governed by a sort of theoretical rule book that no one had ever seen or read— and that didn’t, in fact, exist except in the unwritten rules that shaped every employee’s life.” ( :131)

“Paint responsibility resided with the maintenance department, whose chief politely thanked his colleague for the recommendation, and then noted that if he wanted to interfere with other departments, the favor would be swiftly returned.” ( :132)

“When the blaze was finally put out at 1:46 M.—six hours after the burning tissue was noticed—the A. toll stood at thirty-one dead and dozens injured.” ( :134)

“Sometimes, one priority—or one department or one person or one goal—needs to overshadow everything else, though it might be unpopular or threaten the balance of power that keeps trains running on time. Sometimes, a truce can create dangers that outweigh any peace.” ( :135)

“Four months after the elderly man with the botched skull surgery died at Rhode Island Hospital, another surgeon at the hospital committed a similar error, operating on the wrong section of another patient’s head. The state’s health department reprimanded the facility and fined it $50,000. Eighteen months later, a surgeon operated on the wrong part of a child’s mouth during a cleft palate surgery. Five months after that, a surgeon operated on a patient’s wrong finger. Ten months after that, a drill bit 450,000.6.32 was left inside a man’s head. For these transgressions, the hospital was fined another $” ( :136)

“All this criticism wasn’t a bad thing, she said. In fact, the hospital had been given an opportunity that few organizations ever received. “I saw this as an opening,” Dr. Cooper told me. “There’s a long history of hospitals trying to attack these problems and failing. Sometimes people need a jolt, and all the bad publicity was a serious jolt. It gave us a chance to reexamine everything.”” ( :136)

“hen the hospital, under attack, coalesced around solutions to change its culture. Part of the answer was “safety rounds,” in which, every three months, a senior physician discussed a particular surgery or diagnosis and described, in painstaking detail, a mistake or near miss to an audience of hundreds of her or his peers.” ( :137)

“When Fennell began suggesting changes of his own, he saw the same kinds of roadblocks— department chiefs refusing to take responsibility or undercutting him with whispered threats to their subordinates—start to emerge. So he decided to turn his inquiry into a media circus.” ( :138)

“subway. He cross-examined dozens of witnesses who described an organization where turf battles mattered more than commuter safety. His final report, released almost a year after the fire, was a scathing, 250-page indictment of the Underground portraying an organization crippled by bureaucratic ineptitude. “Having set out as an Investigation into the events of one night,” Fennell wrote, the report’s “scope was necessarily enlarged into the examination of a system.” He concluded with pages and pages of stinging criticisms and recommendations that, essentially, suggested much of the organization was either incompetent or corrupt.” ( :138)

“The same kinds of shifts are possible at any company where institutional habits—through thoughtlessness or neglect—have created toxic truces. A company with dysfunctional habits can’t turn around simply because a leader orders it. Rather, wise executives seek out moments of crisis—or create the perception of crisis—and cultivate the sense that something must change, until everyone is finally ready to overhaul the patterns they live with each day.” ( :138)

“Something similar happened at Rhode Island Hospital in the wake of the eighty-six-year-old man’s death and the other surgical errors. Since the hospital’s new safety procedures were fully implemented in 2009, no wrong-site errors have occurred. The hospital recently earned a Beacon Award, the most prestigious recognition of critical care nursing, and honors from the American College of Surgeons for the quality of cancer care.” ( :138)

“”Doctor,” the twenty-seven-year-old Ward said, “I want to remind everyone that we have to pause before the first and second procedures. You didn’t mention that, and I just want to make sure we remember.” It was the type of comment that, a few years ago, might have earned her a rebuke. Or ended her career.” ( :139)

“Someone’s buying new towels, sheets, silverware, pans, and frozen dinners? They probably just bought a new house—or are getting a divorce. A cart loaded up with bug spray, kids’ underwear, a flashlight, lots of batteries, Real Simple, and a bottle of Chardonnay? Summer camp is around the corner and Mom can hardly wait.” ( :141)

“Not everyone, it turns out, thinks mathematical mind reading is cool. “I guess outsiders could say this is a little bit like Big Brother,” Pole told me. “That makes some people uncomfortable.”” ( :142)

“”Consumers sometimes act like creatures of habit, automatically repeating past behavior with little 2009.7.4 regard to current goals,” two psychologists at the University of Southern California wrote in” ( :143)

“Also linked to that Guest ID number was demographic information that Target collected or purchased from other firms, including the shopper’s age, whether they were married and had kids, which part of town they lived in, how long it took them to drive to the store, an estimate of how much money they earned, if they’d moved recently, which websites they visited, the credit cards they carried in their wallet, and their home and mobile phone numbers. Target can purchase data that indicates a shopper’s ethnicity, their job history, what magazines they read, if they have ever declared bankruptcy, the year they bought (or lost) their house, where they went to college or graduate school, and whether they prefer certain brands of coffee, toilet paper, cereal, or applesauce.” ( :144)

“f you use your Target credit card to purchase a box of Popsicles once a week, usually around 6:30 p.m. on a weekday, and megasized trash bags every July and October, Target’s statisticians and computer programs will determine that you have kids at home, tend to stop for groceries on your way back from work, and have a lawn that needs mowing in the summer and trees that drop leaves in the fall. It will look at your other shopping patterns and notice that you sometimes buy cereal, but never” ( :144)

“purchase milk—which means that you must be buying it somewhere else.” ( :145)

“buying it somewhere else. So Target will mail you coupons for 2 percent milk, as well as for chocolate sprinkles, school supplies, lawn furniture, rakes, and—since it’s likely you’ll want to relax after a long day at work—beer. The company will guess what you habitually buy, and then try to convince you to get it at Target. The firm has the capacity to personalize the ads and coupons it sends to every customer, even though you’ll probably never realize you’ve received a different flyer in the mail than your neighbors.” ( :145)

“buy orange juice look the same. It requires a special kind of mathematician to figure out that one of them is a thirty-four-year-old woman purchasing juice for her kids (and thus might appreciate a coupon for a Thomas the Tank Engine DVD) and the other is a twenty-eight-year-old bachelor who drinks juice after going for a run (and thus might respond to discounts on sneakers). Pole and the fifty other members of Target’s Guest Data and Analytical Services department were the ones who found the habits hidden in the facts.” ( :145)

“”The data doesn’t mean anything on its own. Target’s good at figuring out the really clever questions.”” ( :146)

“Consumers going through major life events often don’t notice, or 7.8 care, that their shopping patterns have shifted. However, retailers notice, and they care quite a bit.” ( :146)

“”Changing residence, getting married or divorced, losing or changing a job, having someone enter or leave the household,” Andreasen wrote, are life changes that make consumers more “vulnerable to” ( :146)

“intervention by marketers.”” ( :147)

“And what’s the biggest life event for most people? What causes the greatest disruption and “vulnerability to marketing interventions”? Having a baby. There’s almost no greater upheaval for most customers than the arrival of a child. As a result, new parents’ habits are more flexible at that moment than at almost any other period in an adult’s life. So for companies, pregnant women are gold mines.” ( :147)

“”As soon as we get them buying diapers from us, they’re going to start buying everything else, too,” Pole told me. “If you’re rushing through the store, looking for bottles, and you pass orange juice, you’ll grab a carton. Oh, and there’s that new DVD I want. Soon, you’ll be buying cereal and paper towels from us, and keep coming back.”” ( :147)

“As a result, whenever one of these women purchased something in a store or online, Pole, using the due date the woman provided, could plot the trimester in which the purchase occurred. Before long, he was picking up patterns.” ( :148)

“arget data analyst noticed that women on the baby registry were buying unusually large quantities of unscented lotion around the beginning of their second trimester. Another analyst noted that sometime in the first twenty weeks, many pregnant women loaded up on vitamins, such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Lots of shoppers purchase soap and cotton balls every month, but when someone suddenly starts buying lots of scent-free soap and cotton balls, in addition to hand sanitizers and an astounding number of washcloths, all at once, a few months after buying lotions and magnesium and zinc, it signals they are getting close to their delivery date.” ( :148)

“Jenny Ward, a twenty-three-year-old in Atlanta who bought cocoa butter lotion, a purse large enough to double as a diaper bag, zinc, magnesium, and a bright blue rug? There’s an 87 percent chance that 7.11 she’s pregnant and that her delivery date is sometime in late August. Liz Alter in Brooklyn, a thirty-five-year-old who purchased five packs of washcloths, a bottle of “sensitive skin” laundry detergent, baggy jeans, vitamins containing DHA, and a slew of moisturizers? She’s got a 96 percent chance of pregnancy, and she’ll probably give birth in early May. Caitlin Pike, a thirty-nine-year-old in San Francisco who purchased a $250 stroller, but nothing else? She’s probably buying for a friend’s baby shower. Besides, her demographic data shows she got divorced two years ago.” ( :148)

“There’s good reason for such worries. About a year after Pole created his pregnancy prediction model, a man walked into a Minnesota Target and demanded to see the manager. He was clutching an advertisement. He was very angry. “My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?” The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture, and pictures of smiling infants gazing into their mothers’ eyes. The manager apologized profusely, and then called, a few days later, to apologize again. The father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of.” He took a deep breath. “She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”” ( :149)

“Polyphonic HMI’s database, Hit Song Science could deliver a score that forecasted if a tune was likely to succeed.” ( :150)

“A company named Polyphonic HMI—a collection of artificial intelligence experts and statisticians based in Spain—had created a program called Hit Song Science that analyzed the mathematical characteristics of a tune and predicted its popularity. By comparing the tempo, pitch, melody, chord progression, and other factors of a particular song against the thousands of hits stored in Polyphonic HMI’s database, Hit Song Science could deliver a score 7.14 that forecasted if a tune was likely to succeed. The program had predicted that Norah Jones’s Come Away with Me, for instance, would be a hit after most of the industry had dismissed the album. (It went” ( :150)

“The program had predicted that Norah Jones’s Come Away with Me, for instance, would be a hit after most of the industry had dismissed the album. (It went on to sell ten million copies and win eight Grammys.) It had predicted that “Why Don’t You and I” by Santana would be popular, despite DJs’ doubts. (It reached number three on the Billboard Top 40 list.)” ( :150)

“”Hey Ya!,” according to the algorithm, was going to be a monster hit.” ( :150)

“”Breathe” by Blu Cantrell during the summer of 2003, almost no one changed the dial. The song is an eminently forgettable, beat-driven tune that DJs found so bland that most of them” ( :152)

“Then there were songs that listeners said they actively disliked, but were sticky nonetheless. Take Christina Aguilera or Celine Dion. In survey after survey, male listeners said they hated Celine Dion and couldn’t stand her songs. But whenever a Dion tune came on the radio, men stayed tuned in. Within the Los Angeles market, stations that regularly played Dion at the end of each hour—when the number of listeners was measured—could reliably boost their audience by as much as 3 percent, a huge figure in the radio world. Male listeners may have thought they disliked Dion, but when her songs played, they stayed glued.” ( :152)

“”Sometimes stations will do research by calling listeners on the phone, and play a snippet of a song, and listeners will say, ‘I’ve heard that a million times. I’m totally tired of it,’ ” Meyer told me. “But when it comes on the radio, your subconscious says, ‘I know this song! I’ve heard it a million times! I can sing along!’ Sticky songs are what you expect to hear on the radio. Your brain secretly wants that song, because it’s so familiar to everything else you’ve already heard and liked. It just sounds right.”” ( :152)

“That’s why songs that sound “familiar”—even if you’ve never heard them before—are sticky. Our brains are designed to prefer auditory patterns that seem similar to what we’ve already heard. When Celine Dion releases a new song—and it sounds like every other song she’s sung, as well as most of the other songs on the radio—our brains unconsciously crave its recognizability and the song becomes sticky. You might never attend a Celine Dion concert, but you’ll listen to her songs on the radio, because that’s what you expect to hear as you drive to work. Those songs correspond perfectly to your habits.” ( :153)

“It’s like telling a forty-two-year-old investment banker that he sang along to” ( :153)

“Celine Dion. It just feels wrong.” ( :154)

“Margaret Mead and Kurt Lewin, who would go on to become celebrity academics—and gave them an assignment:” ( :155)

“serving fresh cabbage to troops in 1943, it was rejected. So mess halls chopped and boiled the cabbage until it looked like every other vegetable on a soldier’s tray—and the troops ate it without complaint. “Soldiers were more likely to eat food, whether familiar or unfamiliar, when it was prepared similar to their prior experiences and served in 7.23 a familiar fashion,” a present-day researcher evaluating those studies wrote.” ( :155)

“Since then, the U.S. government has launched dozens of other efforts to improve our diets. For example, there was the “Five a Day” campaign, intended to encourage people to eat five fruits or vegetables, the USDA’s food pyramid, and a push for low-fat cheeses and milks. None of them adhered to the committee’s findings. None tried to camouflage their recommendations in existing habits, and as a result, all of the campaigns failed. To date, the only government program ever to cause a lasting change in the American diet was the organ meat push of the 1940s. However, radio stations and massive companies—including Target—are a bit savvier.” ( :156)

“”Hey Ya!” needed to become part of an established listening habit to become a hit. And to become part of a habit, it had to be slightly camouflaged at first, the same way housewives camouflaged kidney by slipping it into meatloaf. So at WIOQ in Philadelphia—as well as at other stations around the nation—DJs started making sure that whenever “Hey Ya!” was played, it was sandwiched between songs that were already popular. “It’s textbook playlist theory now,” said Tom Webster, a radio consultant. “Play a new song between two consensus popular hits.”” ( :156)

“When WIOQ first started playing “Hey Ya!” in early September—before the sandwiching started— 26.6 percent of listeners changed the station whenever it came on. By October, after playing it alongside sticky hits, that “tune-out factor” dropped to 13.7 percent. By December, it was 5.7 percent. Other major radio stations around the nation used the same sandwiching technique, and the tune-out rate followed the same pattern.” ( :157)

“Hey Ya!” A “Hey Ya!” habit emerged. The song went on to win a Grammy, sell more than 5.5 million albums, and earn radio stations millions of dollars. “This album cemented OutKast in the pantheon of superstars,” Bartels, the promotion executive, told me. “This is what introduced them to audiences outside of hip-hop. It’s so fulfilling now when a new artist plays me their single and says, This is going to be the next ‘Hey Ya!'”” ( :158)

“”And we found out that as long as a pregnant woman thinks she hasn’t been spied on, she’ll use the coupons. She just assumes that everyone else on her block got the same mailer for diapers and cribs. As long as we don’t spook her, it works.”” ( :158)

“If you dress a new something in old habits, it’s easier for the public to accept it.” ( :159)

“Retention, the data said, was driven by emotional factors, such as whether employees knew members’ names or said hello when they walked in. People, it turns out, often go to the gym looking for a human connection, not a treadmill. If a member made a friend at the YMCA, they were much more likely to show up for workout sessions. In other words, people who join the YMCA have certain social habits. If the YMCA satisfied them, members were happy. So if the YMCA wanted to encourage people to exercise, it needed to take advantage of patterns that already existed, and teach employees to remember visitors’ names. It’s a variation of the lesson learned by Target and radio DJs: to sell a new habit—in this case exercise—wrap it in something that people already know and like, such as the instinct to go places where it’s easy to make friends.” ( :160)

 

PART THREE: THE HABITS OF SOCIETIES

 

“”If you don’t stand up,” Blake said, “I’m going to call the police and have you arrested.” 8.2 “You may do that,” Parks said. The driver left and found two policemen. “Why don’t you stand up?” one of them asked Parks after they boarded. “Why do you push us around?” she said. 8.3 “I don’t know,” the officer answered. “But the law is the law and you’re under arrest.” At that moment, though no one on that bus knew it, the civil rights movement pivoted.” ( :164)

“Parks would become a hero, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a shining example of how a single act of defiance can change the world.” ( :164)

“A movement starts because of the social habits of friendship and the strong ties between close acquaintances. It grows because of the habits of a community, and the weak ties that hold neighborhoods and clans together. And it endures because a movement’s leaders give participants new habits that create a fresh sense of identity and a feeling of ownership.” ( :165)

“Rosa Parks wasn’t the first black passenger jailed for breaking Montgomery’s bus segregation laws. She wasn’t even the first that year. In 1946, Geneva Johnson had been arrested for talking back to a 8.5 Montgomery bus driver over seating. In 1949, Viola White, Katie Wingfield, and two black 8.6 children were arrested for sitting in the white section and refusing to move. That same year, two black teenagers visiting from New Jersey—where buses were integrated—were arrested and jailed 8.7 after breaking the law by sitting next to a white man and a boy. In 1952, a Montgomery policeman shot and killed a black man when he argued with a bus driver. In 1955, just months before Parks was taken to jail, Claudette Colvin and Mary Louise Smith were arrested in separate incidents for refusing to give their seats to white passengers.” ( :165)

“When Parks was arrested, however, it sparked something unusual within the city. Rosa Parks, unlike other people who had been jailed for violating the bus segregation law, was deeply respected and embedded within her community. So when she was arrested, it triggered a series of social habits—the habits of friendship—that ignited an initial protest. Parks’s membership in dozens of social networks across Montgomery allowed her friends to muster a response before the community’s normal apathy could take hold.” ( :166)

“”If you think it will mean something to Montgomery and do some good,” she told them, “I’ll be happy to go along with it.”” ( :167)

“Which is why the second aspect of the social habits of movements is so important. The Montgomery bus boycott became a society-wide action because the sense of obligation that held the black community together was activated soon after Parks’s friends started spreading the word. People who hardly knew Rosa Parks decided to participate because of a social peer pressure—an influence known as “the power of weak ties”—that made it difficult to avoid joining in.” ( :168)

“More surprising, however, was how often job hunters also received help from casual acquaintances —friends of friends—people who were neither strangers nor close pals. Granovetter called those connections “weak ties,” because they represented the links that connect people who have acquaintances in common, who share membership in social networks, but aren’t directly connected by the strong ties of friendship themselves.” ( :169)

“When sociologists have examined how opinions move through communities, how gossip spreads or political movements start, they’ve discovered a common pattern: Our weak-tie acquaintances are often as influential—if not more—than our close-tie friends. As Granovetter wrote, “Individuals with few weak ties will be deprived of information from distant parts of the social system and will be confined to the provincial news and views of their close friends. This deprivation will not only insulate them from the latest ideas and fashions but may put them in a disadvantaged position in the labor market, where advancement can depend … on knowing about appropriate job openings at just the right time.” ( :170)

“So there is a tool that activists have long relied upon to compel protest, even when a group of people don’t necessarily want to participate. It’s a form of persuasion that has been remarkably effective over hundreds of years. It’s the sense of obligation that neighborhoods or communities place upon themselves. In other words, peer pressure.” ( :170)

“McAdam’s initial hypothesis was that students who ended up going to Mississippi probably had different motivations from those who stayed home, which explained the divergence in participation. To test this idea, he divided applicants into two groups. The first pile were people who said they wanted to go to Mississippi for “self-interested” motives, such as to “test myself,” to “be where the action is,” or to “learn about the southern way of life.” The second group were those with “otheroriented” motives, such as to “improve the lot of blacks,” to “aid in the full realization of democracy,” or to “demonstrate the power of nonviolence as a vehicle for social change.”” ( :171)

“Once he finished, he finally had an answer as to why some students went to Mississippi, and others stayed home: because of social habits—or more specifically, because of the power of strong and weak ties working in tandem.” ( :172)

“When McAdam looked at applicants with religious orientations—students who cited a “Christian duty to help those in need” as their motivation for applying, for instance, he found mixed levels of participation. However, among those applicants who mentioned a religious orientation and belonged to a religious organization, McAdam found that every single one made the trip to Mississippi. Once their communities knew they had been accepted into Freedom Summer, it was impossible for them to withdraw.” ( :172)

“Many people sitting in the pews and reading the newspapers knew Rosa Parks personally and were willing to boycott because of their friendships with her. Others didn’t know Parks, but they could” ( :173)

“sense the community was rallying behind her cause, and that if they were seen riding a bus on Monday, it would look bad. “If you work,” read a flyer handed out in churches, “take a cab, or share a ride, or walk.” Then everyone heard that the boycott’s leaders had convinced—or strong-armed—all the black taxi drivers into agreeing to carry black passengers on Monday for ten cents a ride, the same as a bus fare. The community’s weak ties were drawing everyone together. At that point, you were either with the boycott or against it.” ( :174)

“Today, thirty years later, Saddleback Church is one of the largest ministries in the world, with more than twenty thousand parishioners visiting its 120-acre campus—and eight satellite campuses—each week. One of Warren’s books, The Purpose-Driven Life, has sold thirty million copies, making it among the biggest sellers in history. There are thousands of other churches modeled on his methods. Warren was chosen to perform the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration, and is considered one of the most influential religious leaders on earth.” ( :176)

“”We’ve thought long and hard about habitualizing faith, breaking it down into pieces,” Warren told me. “If you try to scare people into following Christ’s example, it’s not going to work for too long. The only way you get people to take responsibility for their spiritual maturity is to teach them habits of faith. “Once that happens, they become self-feeders. People follow Christ not because you’ve led them there, but because it’s who they are.”” ( :176)

“everyone who showed up for Bible study, so he had asked a few church members to host classes inside their homes. He worried that people might complain about going to someone’s house, rather than a proper church classroom. But congregants loved it, they said. The small groups gave them a chance to meet their neighbors. So, after he returned from his leave, Warren assigned every Saddleback member to a small group that met every week. It was one of the most important decisions he ever made, because it transformed church participation from a decision into a habit that drew on already-existing social urges and patterns.” ( :177)

“”The congregation and the small groups are like a one-two punch. You have this big crowd to remind you why you’re doing this in the first place, and a small group of close friends to help you focus on how to be faithful. Together, they’re like glue. We have over five thousand small groups now. It’s the only thing that makes a church this size manageable. Otherwise, I’d work myself to death, and 95 percent of the congregation would never receive the attention they came here looking for.”” ( :177)

“”If you want to have Christ-like character, then you just develop the habits that Christ had,” one of Saddleback’s course manuals reads. “All of us are simply a bundle of habits…. Our goal is to help 8.29 you replace some bad habits with some good habits that will help you grow in Christ’s likeness.” Every Saddleback member is asked to sign a “maturity covenant card” promising to adhere to three habits: daily quiet time for reflection and prayer, tithing 10 percent of their income, and membership in a small group. Giving everyone new habits has become a focus of the church.” ( :178)

“combination of strong and weak ties. Transforming his church into a movement, however—scaling it across twenty thousand parishioners and thousands of other pastors —required something more, something that made it self-perpetuating. Warren needed to teach people habits that caused them to live faithfully not because of their ties, but because it’s who they are. This is the third aspect of how social habits drive movements: For an idea to grow beyond a community, it must become self-propelling. And the surest way to achieve that is to give people new habits that help them figure out where to go on their own.” ( :178)

“As King surveyed the damage, more and more blacks arrived. Policemen started telling the crowds to disperse. Someone shoved a cop. A bottle flew through the air. One of the policemen swung a baton. The police chief, who months earlier had publicly declared his support for the racist White Citizens’ Council, pulled King aside and asked him to do something—anything—to stop a riot from breaking out.” ( :179)

“”Don’t do anything panicky,” he shouted to the crowd. “Don’t get your weapons. He who lives by the 8.32 sword shall perish by the sword.” The crowd grew still. “We must love our white brothers, no matter what they do to us,” King said. “We must make them know that we love them. Jesus still cries out in words that echo across the centuries: ‘Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you.'” ( :179)

“”We must meet hate with love,” King told the crowd the night of the bombing. “If I am stopped, our work will not stop. For what we are doing is right. What we are doing is just. And God is with us.” When King was done speaking, the crowd quietly walked home. “If it hadn’t been for that nigger preacher,” one white policeman later said, “we’d all be dead.”” ( :180)

“The next week, two dozen new drivers signed up for the car-pool. The phone calls to King’s home slowed. People began self-organizing, taking leadership of the boycott, propelling the movement. When more bombs exploded on the lawns of other boycott organizers, the same pattern played out. Montgomery’s blacks showed up en masse, bore witness without violence or confrontation, and then went home.” ( :180)

“”People went to see how other people were handling it,” said Branch. “You start to see yourself as part of a vast social enterprise, and after a while, you really believe you are.”” ( :180)

“When the Montgomery police resorted to mass arrests to stop the boycott three months after it started, the community embraced the oppression. When ninety people were indicted by a grand jury, almost all of them rushed to the courthouse to present themselves for arrest. Some people went to the sheriff’s office to see if their names were on the list and were “disappointed when they were not,” King later wrote. “A once fear-ridden people had been transformed.”” ( :180)

“”They thought they were dealing with a group who could be cajoled or forced to do whatever the white man wanted them to do. They were” ( :180)

“not aware that they were dealing with Negroes who had been freed from fear.”” ( :181)

“Embedded within King’s philosophy was a set of new behaviors that converted participants from followers into self-directing leaders.” ( :181)

“”I believe you are Reverend King, aren’t you?” asked the white driver. “Yes, I am.” “We are very glad to have you this morning,” the driver said.” ( :181)

“We must now move from protest to reconciliation….. With this dedication we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man to the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.”” ( :182)

“One day in 2000, Bachmann went home from the casino with $6,000—enough to pay rent for two months and wipe out the credit card bills that were piling up by the front door. Another time, she walked away with $2,000.” ( :186)

“”You want to be a big shot,” her mother told her when Bachmann called to borrow more money. “You keep gambling because you want the attention.”” ( :186)

“That wasn’t it, though. “I just wanted to feel good at something,” she said to me. “This was the only thing I’d ever done where it seemed like I had a skill.”” ( :187)

“to raping a teenage girl, but said he was asleep and unconscious while he undressed himself, pulled down her pants, and began having sex. When he woke, mid-rape, he apologized and called the police. “I’ve just sort of committed a crime,” he told the emergency operator. “I honestly don’t know what happened. I woke up on top of her.” He had a history of 9.15 suffering from sleep terrors and was found not guilty. More than 150 murderers and rapists have escaped punishment in the past century using the automatism defense. Judges and juries, acting on behalf of society, have said that since the criminals didn’t choose to commit their crimes—since they didn’t consciously participate in the violence—they shouldn’t bear the blame.” ( :191)

“Before Thomas was set free, the judge told him, “You are a decent man and a devoted husband. I strongly suspect you may well be feeling a sense of guilt. In the eyes of the law you bear no 9.19 responsibility. You are discharged.”” ( :192)

“had been. Casino employees were trained to encourage visitors to discuss their lives, in the hopes they might reveal information that could be used to predict how much they had to gamble with. One Harrah’s executive called this approach “Pavlovian marketing.” The company ran thousands of tests 9.20 each year to perfect their methods. Customer tracking had increased the company’s profits by billions of dollars, and was so precise they could track a gambler’s spending to the cent and minute.” ( :195)

“In 2005, her husband’s grandmother died and the family went back to her old hometown for the funeral. She went to the casino the night before the service to clear her head and get mentally prepared for all the activity the next day. Over a span of twelve hours, she lost $250,000. At the time, it was almost as if the scale of the loss didn’t register. When she thought about it afterward—a quarter of a million dollars gone—it didn’t seem real. She had lied to herself about so much already: that her marriage was happy when she and her husband sometimes went days without really speaking;” ( :195)

“Reza Habib asked twenty-two people to lie inside an MRI 9.23 and watch a slot machine spin around and around. Half of the participants were “pathological gamblers”—people who had lied to their families about their gambling, missed work to gamble, or had bounced checks at a casino—while the other half were people who gambled socially but didn’t 9.24 exhibit any problematic behaviors. Everyone was placed on their backs inside a narrow tube and told to watch wheels of lucky 7s, apples, and gold bars spin across a video screen. The slot machine was programmed to deliver three outcomes: a win, a loss, and a “near miss,” in which the slots almost matched up but, at the last moment, failed to align. None of the participants won or lost any money. All they had to do was watch the screen as the MRI recorded their neurological activity.” ( :196)

“”But what was really interesting were the near misses. To pathological gamblers, near misses looked like wins. Their brains reacted almost the same way. But to a nonpathological gambler, a near miss was like a loss. People without a gambling problem were better at recognizing that a near miss means you still lose.”” ( :196)

“Gamblers who keep betting after near wins are what make casinos, racetracks, and state lotteries so profitable. “Adding a near miss to a lottery is like pouring jet fuel on a fire,” said a state lottery consultant who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity. “You want to know why sales have exploded? Every other scratch-off ticket is designed to make you feel like you almost won.”” ( :197)

“On March 18, 2006, Angie Bachmann flew to a casino at Harrah’s invitation. By then, her bank account was almost empty. When she tried to calculate how much she had lost over her lifetime, she put the figure at about $900,000. She had told Harrah’s that she was almost broke, but the man on the phone said to come anyway. They would give her a line of credit, he said. “It felt like I couldn’t say no, like whenever they dangled the smallest temptation in front of me, my brain would shut off. I know that sounds like an excuse, but they always promised it would be different this time, and I knew no matter how much I fought against it, I was eventually going to give in.”” ( :198)

“”It’s all gone,” she told him. “Why don’t you take a shower and go to bed?” he said. “It’s okay. You’ve lost before.” “It’s all gone,” she said. “What do you mean?” “The money is gone,” she said. “All of it.” “At least we still have the house,” he said. She didn’t tell him that she’d taken out a line of credit on their home months earlier and had gambled it away.” ( :198)

“”Historically, in neuroscience, we’ve said that people with brain damage lose some of their free will,” said Habib. “But when a pathological gambler sees a casino, it seems very similar. It seems like they’re acting without choice.”” ( :199)

“”Some thinkers,” Aristotle wrote in Nicomachean Ethics, “hold that it is by nature that people become good, others that it is by habit, and others that it is by instruction.” For Aristotle, habits reigned supreme. The behaviors that occur unthinkingly are the evidence of our truest selves, he said. So “just as a piece of land has to be prepared beforehand if it is to nourish the seed, so the mind of the pupil has to be prepared in its habits if it is to enjoy and dislike the right things.”” ( :200)

“But every habit, no matter its complexity, is malleable. The most addicted alcoholics can become sober. The most dysfunctional companies can transform themselves. A high school dropout can become a successful manager.” ( :200)

“because Thomas never knew the patterns that drove him to kill existed in the first place—much less that he could master them. Bachmann, on the other hand, was aware of her habits. And once you know a habit exists, you have the responsibility to change it. If she had tried a bit harder, perhaps she could have reined them in. Others have done so, even in the face of greater temptations.” ( :200)

“Two months later, James made a decision. Before doing anything rash, he would conduct a yearlong experiment. He would spend twelve months believing that he had control over himself and his destiny, that he could become better, that he had the free will to change. There was no proof that it was true. But he would free himself to believe, all evidence to the contrary, that change was possible. “I think that yesterday was a crisis in my life,” he wrote in his diary. Regarding his ability to change, “I will assume for the present—until next year—that it is no illusion. My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.”” ( :201)

“Over the next year, he practiced every day. In his diary, he wrote as if his control over himself and his choices was never in question. He got married. He started teaching at Harvard. He began spending time with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who would go on to become a Supreme Court justice, and Charles Sanders Peirce, a pioneer in the study of semiotics, in a discussion group they called the Metaphysical Club.” ( :201)

“The way we habitually think of our surroundings and ourselves create the worlds that each of us inhabit. “There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ ” the writer David Foster Wallace told a class of graduating college students in 2005. “And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?’ ” The water is habits, the unthinking choices and invisible decisions that surround us every day—and which, just by looking at them, become visible again.” ( :202)

“However, as regular gamblers know, it is possible to consistently win, particularly at games such as blackjack. Don Johnson of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, for instance, won a reported $15.1 million at blackjack over a six-month span starting in 2010.” ( :202)

 

APPENDIX

 

“THE FRAMEWORK: • Identify the routine • Experiment with rewards • Isolate the cue • Have a plan” ( :204)

“Next, some less obvious questions: What’s the cue for this routine? Is it hunger? Boredom? Low blood sugar? That you need a break before plunging into another task?” ( :206)

“And what’s the reward? The cookie itself? The change of scenery? The temporary distraction? Socializing with colleagues? Or the burst of energy that comes from that blast of sugar? To figure this out, you’ll need to do a little experimentation.” ( :206)

“On the first day of your experiment, when you feel the urge to go to the cafeteria and buy a cookie, adjust your routine so it delivers a different reward. For instance, instead of walking to the cafeteria, go outside, walk around the block, and then go back to your desk without eating anything. The next day, go to the cafeteria and buy a donut, or a candy bar, and eat it at your desk. The next day, go to the cafeteria, buy an apple, and eat it while chatting with your friends. Then, try a cup of coffee. Then, instead of going to the cafeteria, walk over to your friend’s office and gossip for a few minutes and go back to your desk” ( :207)

“You get the idea. What you choose to do instead of buying a cookie isn’t important. The point is to test different hypotheses to determine which craving is driving your routine. Are you craving the cookie itself, or a break from work? If it’s the cookie, is it because you’re hungry? (In which case the apple should work just as well.) Or is it because you want the burst of energy the cookie provides? (And so the coffee should suffice.) Or are you wandering up to the cafeteria as an excuse to socialize, and the cookie is just a convenient excuse? (If so, walking to someone’s desk and gossiping for a few minutes should satisfy the urge.)” ( :207)

“And why the fifteen-minute alarm? Because the point of these tests is to determine the reward you’re craving. If, fifteen minutes after eating a donut, you still feel an urge to get up and go to the cafeteria, then your habit isn’t motivated by a sugar craving. If, after gossiping at a colleague’s desk, you still want a cookie, then the need for human contact isn’t what’s driving your behavior.” ( :208)

“In other words, when environmental cues said “we are friends”—a gentle tone, a smiling face—the witnesses were more likely to misremember what had occurred. Perhaps it was because, subconsciously, those friendship cues triggered a habit to please the questioner.” ( :209)

“Our lives are the same way. The reason why it is so hard to identify the cues that trigger our habits is because there is too much information bombarding us as our behaviors unfold. Ask yourself, do you eat breakfast at a certain time each day because you are hungry? Or because the clock says 7:30? Or because your kids have started eating? Or because you’re dressed, and that’s when the breakfast habit kicks in?” ( :210)

“Location Time Emotional state Other people Immediately preceding action” ( :210)

“Where are you? (sitting at my desk) What time is it? (3:36 P.M.) What’s your emotional state? (bored) Who else is around? (no one) What action preceded the urge? (answered an email)” ( :210)

“Within psychology, these plans are known as “implementation intentions.”” ( :212)

“Take, for instance, my cookie-in-the-afternoon habit. By using this framework, I learned that my cue was roughly 3:30 in the afternoon. I knew that my routine was to go to the cafeteria, buy a cookie, and chat with friends. And, through experimentation, I had learned that it wasn’t really the cookie I craved —rather, it was a moment of distraction and the opportunity to socialize.” ( :212)

“At 3:30, every day, I will walk to a friend’s desk and talk for 10 minutes. To make sure I remembered to do this, I set the alarm on my watch for 3:30.” ( :212)

“Obviously, changing some habits can be more difficult. But this framework is a place to start. Sometimes change takes a long time. Sometimes it requires repeated experiments and failures. But once you understand how a habit operates—once you diagnose the cue, the routine and the reward— you gain power over it.” ( :213)

 


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