2013 Books of the Year: Non-fiction Runner-up

Non-fiction Runner-up:  The Power of Habit: why we do what we do in life and business by Charles Duhigg.  My college alumni association recommends a new book every other month as part of its Learning Forever program and this one caught my attention as I thought it might help me with my own habits and with my ability to instill good habits in the athletes that I coach.  In his first section focusing on individuals, Duhigg goes into great detail about the components of the habit loop (cues, routines and rewards) as well as the cravings that drive the loop and the importance in believing that change is possible in order to implement any change.  In the second section focusing on organizations, he delves into the topics of keystone habits that trigger a chain reaction in lifestyles or corporate cultures, willpower as a muscle and the environments that can strengthen or drain its force, exploiting crises to introduce changes, and the use of data collection to predict behavior.  In both sections, he describes examples from sports, retailing, government, manufacturing and other industries to make the theories more accessible and interesting.  The third section, looking at habits in society, is definitely the weakest in the book.  It examines how movements for social change develop from individual acts and the concept of responsibility and free will in an environment of addiction.  There are sixty pages of end notes for the academically-inclined, but the main body of text is relatively easy to read for all audiences.  If you’re looking for self-help or to institute change in your organization, then this title should have appeal.

For all my previous “books of the year” lists, see my dedicated page for these titles.

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