Two young fish swim past an older one. “Morning boys, how’s the water today?” The two fish keep swimming until one turns to the other “What the hell is water?”

– Water are the habits, invisible decisions and choices that surround us every day
Almost all habits – how we eat, sleep, talk, think, spend attention, time and money – we know that they exist.
Once you understand that you can change them you have the freedom and responsibility to change them -you can grasp and take control of the Power of Habit.
1) Human Habits
Routine decreases mental effort
Rat runs through a maze finding food.
After a couple of times it internalises it, makes it a habit and it starts using way less brain activity.

– Driving
– Drying after shower
– Morning routine
– Fast food routine (1/month -> 1/week -> 1/day)

  1. Trigger / Cue
  2. Routine – Mental / Physical
  3. Reward

Establishing routines
  • Find simple and obvious cue
  • Clearly define the reward

  • At first we experience an elevation/ scratching itch when we get the reward
  • Once its a habit we get the same from the anticipation (not the reward itself – you take it as granted as you know what’s coming)

Change of Habits – The Golden Rule
Almost any behaviour can be changed if you keep the cue and reward the same
You can’t extinguish an old habit! you can only change it
INSERT NEW HABIT – same cue and reward

1) Awareness
Ask what makes them do habit, make aware
Checklist to tick every time you’re aware
2) Competing response
find something to do that triggers a similar sensation/reward
3) Belief
The belief that things will get better (or god).
Groups are powerful – “if it worked for him, maybe it will work for me”

1) Identify routine
2) Experiment with rewards
– might take weeks or days
– experiment what gets rid of the urge/itch
– 15 mins later check if you still have the urge
3) Isolate cue
– Location
– Time
– Emotional state
– Other people
– Immediately preceding action
4) Make a plan

2) Habits of Successful Organisations
Keystone Habit
That one habit that touches lots of patterns and creates ripples (ie Aluminium company – safety)
– often small wins which make ripples (ie reclassifying gay books in the library)
– framing, words (ie safety philosophy)
is the single most important keystone habit!
Self-discipline is a better indicator of success than IQ.
Might look like people not working hard, but it’s because they made it into a habit.
Willpower isn’t a skill. It’s a muscle, like muscles in your arms and legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left for other things.
Increase willpower
– make detailed plans / goals (the whole journey)
– outline most difficult stages / likely to give up or fail and build a plan what you will do if that happens
– give people control instead of telling them what to do
5-5-5 Rule
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Will it matter in 5 days/months/years?
Good Org Habits
– create balanced peace and make clear who’s in charge (hospital, bad doctors, brain surgery)
Crisis (Past or pending)
– can be devastating but also used as an opportunity to create new habits
(London underground fire, Alcoa aluminium safety, football coach son dies)

Predicting / Manipulating Habits
Fruit – supermarket first thing is fruit which really should be last to not bruise, buying healthy food first makes people spend more on unhealthy food
Turn right – everybody turns right, more expensive goods
Alphabetic – NO – if not alphabetic then you linger, look and might by more stuff
Camouflage that you know a woman is pregnant with vouchers she would never use, to make it look like you don’t know (don’t spook her with unfamiliar)
– the brain seeks familiarity (something we heard a million times before)
– make it FAMILIAR / unfamiliar / FAMILIAR sandwich (ie songs)
US Food Habit Committee
– soldiers need protein / steak
– problem: integrate intestines liver kidneys into diet
– solution: prepare it in a familiar way and put into food you know

3) Habits of Societies
a) START – friendship and strong ties
b) GROW – habits of community, weak ties of neighbourhood and clans
c) ENDURES – leaders give new habits
Strong and weak ties
most like to start and grow if BOTH strong and weak ties (friends who you see every couple of months, social groups)
Are you responsible for actions which are caused by habits?
– neurological change in brain
– Sleepwalker – unconscious when he murdered wife (free)
– Gambler – over time into habit of gambling and losing everything (had to pay her debts)