Our successes and failures seem to be grounded in habits we were lucky enough to make or are too weak to break. Just what are habits, how do they work, and how can we break bad ones and make good ones? Many of the CEOs in my Vistage Peer Advisory Groups are trying to improve their health by changing their habits. As it turns out, the secret to changing habits has huge implications, not only in our personal lives, but in our businesses and in society at large.
For some answers, check out a wonderful new book, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.” You can also check this CNN Video interview (5 min) with the author and Fareed Zakaria and some brief explanations by the author of what you’ll find in the book, including how the CEO of Alcoa turned the company around by changing the safety habits (no kidding) of its employees and how Target can tell which of their customers are pregnant. In another video, (3 min) the author explains the habit breaking technique in detail. If you are really interested in changing your habits, take 8 minutes to view both of these videos.
I’m about two thirds of the way through the book which looks at role habits play in individuals, companies and society as a whole. One of my favorite stories relates how a US Army officer analyzed the habit of crowds in an Iranian town and significantly reduced the number of riots there by removing the kebab vendors (again, no kidding). Stay tuned to see if his techniques are powerful enough to help me exercise every morning and stop snacking at night.