Every leader realizes that the world around them has changed – and is changing at an ever-increasing pace. The demands on a leader’s time and energy are on an upward trend, and show no signs of leveling off.
What’s worse, it may even seem that the skills and perspectives that were effective for past success may now have become a liability for future productivity. With so much going on, it’s almost impossible to stay focused.
It’s time for new strategies and tactics to cope with the shifting ground of missed opportunities and unexpected threats in today’s ever-changing environment.
THE QUICK SUMMARY – Atomic Habits, by James Clear
No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving–every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.
If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.
Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.
Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits–whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.
A SIMPLE SOLUTION
According to author James Clear, it is easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action.
On the other side of that thought are tiny improvements done consistently over time – habits.
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. In the same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous.
While Clear believes there is no one right way to create better habits, he suggests his four-step approach – based on personal experiences and research – can be effective regardless of where you are or what you’re trying to change.
The process of building a habit can be divided into four simple steps: cue, craving, response, and reward. Breaking it down into these fundamental parts can help us understand what a habit is, how it works, and how to improve it.
This four-step pattern is the backbone of every habit, and your brain runs through these steps in the same order each time.
First, there is the cue. The cue triggers your brain to initiate a behavior. It is a bit of information that produces a reward. Your mind is continuously analyzing your internal an external environment for hints of where rewards are located. Because the cue is the first indication that we’re close to a reward, it naturally leads to a craving.
Cravings are the second step, and they are the motivational force behind every habit. Without some level of motivation or desire – without craving a change – we have no reason to act. What you crave is not the habit itself but the change in state it delivers. Every craving is linked to a desire to change your internal state.
The third step is the response. The response is the actual habit you perform, which can take the form of a thought or an action. Whether a response occurs depends on how motivate you are and how much friction is associated with the behavior. If a particular action requires more physical or mental effort than you are willing to expend, then you won’t do it.
Finally, the response delivers a reward. Rewards are the end goal of every habit. The cue is about noticing the reward. The carving is about wanting the reward. The response is about obtaining the reward. We chase rewards because they serve two purposes: 1) they satisfy us and 2) they teach us.
If a behavior is insufficient in any of the for stages, it will not become a habit. Eliminate the cue and your habit will never start. Reduce the craving and you won’t experience enough motivation to act. Make the behavior difficult and you won’t be able to do it. And if the reward fails to satisfy your desire, then you’ll have no reason to do it again in the future.James Clear, Atomic Habits
A NEXT STEP
In Atomic Habits, author James Clear introduced a four-step model for human behavior (above). Set aside some time this Sunday night for personal reflection, after the business of the day is gone and everyone else is asleep. Use the following insights and lessons as a guideline for developing a plan to work on removing an old habit or installing a new habit this week.
Awareness comes before desire. A craving can only occur after you have noticed an opportunity.
Happiness is simply the absence of desire. When you observe a cue, but do not desire to change your state, you are content with the current situation.
It is the idea of pleasure that we chase. The feeling of satisfaction only comes after we act; before, we are only seeking the image of pleasure generated in our minds.
With a big enough why you can overcome any how. If your motivation and desire are great enough (why you are acting), you’ll take action even when it is quite difficult.
Your actions reveal how badly you want something. If you keep saying something is a priority but you never act on it, then you don’t really want it.
Which insight is most relevant to you this week? Write down what you will do about it and place it in a repeatedly visible place like your computer monitor, bathroom mirror or automobile dashboard.
Repeat this exercise every week and after 90 days celebrate all that God has done!
Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 139, released February 2020.
Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader
Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.