Tag Archives: community

The Golden Rule of Habit Change

The Golden Rule of Habit Change, subtitled “Why Transformation Occurs” is the third chapter in Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, and the final section of part one, The Habits of Individuals. 

The golden rule itself is “you can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.” Duhigg goes back to the 3-step habit loop and says that you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but change the routine.

Duhigg once again uses a couple of examples to demonstrate, this time a football coach who focused relentlessly on improving his players’ habits and the founders and members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Once again there are powerful, compelling examples of change, and strong results, so that you would think the above formula is “it.” But then Duhigg gives powerful counter-examples where each of the above failed – in both cases it was high-stress situations (the playoffs/superbowl for the football team, times of major personal crisis/loss for the alcoholics). Duhigg then comes in with the “secret ingredient” which was not explicit in the 3-step loop: belief. 

Duhigg doesn’t make it all seem easy, which is good. He first discusses the difficulty of identifying the cue, which can be subconscious in the case of many habits (Duhigg uses a brief but memorable example of an extreme fingernail chewer). Then, he discusses how it can also be difficult to identify the actual reward (e.g. with alcoholics, it is rarely the physical effects of alcohol, but a certain feeling). Only once these are properly identified can a new routine begin to replace the bad habit.

And of course, the belief part may be the most difficult. Duhigg quotes Lee Ann Kaskutas of the Alcohol Research Group:

There’s something really powerful about groups and shared experiences. People may be skeptical about their ability to change if they’re by themselves, but a group will convince them to suspend disbelief. A community creates belief.

I like that Duhigg takes the time to mention that while the process of habit change is easily described, it is not always easily accomplished. I wish that this was not relegated to a footnote, though.

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CyTunes – download music, downsize cancer

I’m readying a series of posts about CyTunes – a great example of social enterprise, community, fundraising and innovation.  I’ll let you know up front that I’m biased, as my wife is the project manager and I’m volunteering to help with the social media aspect of promotion.  Below is my first cut at building a widget, built at sproutbuilder in a couple of hours (and I’m sure it would have taken less time for someone who is more technically proficient):

CyTunes sprout

Update: I was going to have the sprout embedded here, but apparently I can’t do so on the free version of wordpress (or I’m just not very savvy).  Easy interface is provided for over a dozen services, including facebook and blogger, so if you want to see how the sprout looks “in action” you can go to my facebook page – it’s both under my “info” and in a separate “my stuff” tab.  I’ve also added it to my tumblr site, which I’ve found incredibly useful and fun for keeping track of little bits of info that I think are worth sharing.

Fred Wilson “Big Think” Interview

An interesting video posted yesterday on the usual technology and business trendcasting topics.  It’s 8 minutes, so here’s the summary:

  • Changes in technology – evolution over 15 years from using the phone to using email to using social media to get most of the work done (value as business tools); face to face is a constant value throughout
  • Workforce – this generation less loyal, more mobile, more interested in maximizing their career than company value, especially as geography becomes a less crucial hiring factor
  • Social networking – the most interesting part comes around 4:30 in, where he starts with the charming “I write a weblog…”  He stresses that there is a community built, and that trust in the community and the tools has led to new ways of doing business, and talks about how he has taken action based on comments from people he’s never met.  Great stuff in this portion!
  • A little bit on tools such as IRC, wiki and facebook
  • In the comments, some folks ask for more video and he says “I don’t think video is an efficient way for most people to consume info so I try not to do too much of it.”  Agreed on the efficiency, both for consuming, and trying to find that quotable portion 6 months later.  Hence this self-reminder post.