The Power of Habit

October 6, 2014

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Recently I served as a part of the Blogger Team at the Catalyst 2014 Conference. Catalyst gathers excellent speakers to inspire the church.

Charles Duhigg is the Pulitzer Prize winning writer for the New York Times and author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, an innovative and powerful new book about change. Here are my notes.

We are in a golden age of understanding how habits work, with an incredibly powerful position to have habits change.

Habits are an interesting mix of reason, science, and faith.

The actions in the brains of rats, when fulfilling a habit is the same as when it sleeps. This is the neurology of a habit.

How many of us have arrived at work and wondered how we arrived? It’s a habit. Your brain lapses into an automatic behavior.

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Image from The Power of Habit

There are three steps in the habit loop:
A Cue

A Routine
A Reward

Using corporate stories from Febreze and Starbucks, Duhigg demonstrates how companies have embraced some of these habit-forming principles.

“Habits only take hold if the rewards is actually rewarding for the person you are trying to influence.”

How do you find this reward?

Starbucks does not sell coffee, they sell customer service, an experience.

Starbucks teaches their employees willpower habits to deal with difficulties and complaints. They teach life skills. They give people an emotional reward of handling a difficult situation correctly

If we can delay the reward, it strengthens willpower. Researchers say willpower is the single greatest component to success.

How can you use this? 

People are often coming to you (especially in ministry) in a moment of emotional insecurity. It is in those moments we have the power to understand why they behave the way they do.

Find the cues which set us off.

Embrace the rewards which make us feel good.

In doing so we can develop habits to see lasting change.

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I have read Duhigg’s book. It is an entertaining and intriguing read. I feel like there is great potential for incredible application of these discoveries. Duhigg himself, however,  does not give a lot of concrete examples of how to apply the truths. He leaves it open to multiple applications.

Andy Stanley used this book in his leadership team, to consider the keystone habits which define their organization. They asked if there is one habit that would drive their values in every area. You can listen to this dialogue on the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast.

I intend to ponder on these truths more to see how they can apply to discipleship and even my personal and family life. Pick up a copy today!

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For more about the Catalyst Conference go to www.catalystconference.com

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God