By CARLA OFFENBURGER
COOPER, Iowa, Nov. 26, 2014 — I am well on my way to surpassing my 52 books a year goal – with 50 already done. Wow! And I know I’ve got some on my immediate reading list that will help me, dare I say it, reach 60 books for 2014. I think I’ve formed, or perfected, a pretty good reading habit.
Speaking of habits.
At the top of my 2014 reading list will be the book I just finished – Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.” Incredible.
I love when books are recommended to me by the most surprising of folks, only to find that the book is already on my shelf, somewhat lost and forgotten This go ’round, Dr. Jon Van Der Veer recommended I read “The Power of Habit” as he and I were discussing business-related things. He thought every leader should read it. He’s right, of course. And every follower should read it, too.
When I searched the book on Amazon.com, I thought the cover looked vaguely familiar. And sure enough on my “to be read” shelf, there was a brand new copy of “The Power of Habit.” After some reflection, I recalled seeing this on the bookshelf of my good friend Mary Riche over a year ago. She recommended it, I bought it and then tucked it away.
Isn’t this just the best way to know you are destined to read a book? Recommended by a new friend only to find out an old friend thought you should read it, too!
So I started reading and couldn’t put it down. This is a bit odd for a nonfiction book that includes studies and formulas and research on top of research. In fact, there are 60 pages of notes at the back of the book. Alas, not being able to put it down is exactly what happened.
It didn’t matter if I was reading about how habits work, how we form them, or which ones matter most (all those are title subheadings, by the way), I was fascinated beyond my wildest expectations.
When I read, within the first 25 pages, the concept that, “They (habits) shape our lives far more than we realize – they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense,” I discovered how my husband Chuck Offenburger’s brain must operate a good percentage of the time. He is a man of many habits – and he catches on quickly so he is reliable and steadfast – even when common sense should tell him otherwise. Ah, habit. I get it now.
I cannot stop analyzing every aspect of my day to see if I’m following a good habit or a bad one. Because nearly everything we do is a result of some habit or another. I’m afraid there’s an equal amount of the good and the bad in my life.
But now I feel like I have some knowledge of how to break a habit, start a habit or keep a habit. All important things to know really, don’t you think?
The use of popular places, people or movements like Starbucks, Target, Saddleback Church (Rick Warren) and the Montgomery Bus Boycott were all used to show how habits can be used to bring success to both business and social causes. Big businesses and big social movements!
Understanding “cues” and “rewards” can help us form or change habits in our personal lives, but in our professional lives we can understand how to create success or sales based on the habits of our customers. We can better understand how movements get started, and how changes on a global scale can be made. All this in just 352 pages of a page-turning read.
There is something for everyone in this book – whether you want to understand yourself better, your partner, your family or your boss. You will see yourself and those around you in the pages of “The Power of Habit.” Duhigg leaves nothing out. He discusses addictions in great detail – alcoholism and gambling – and lays out that while there is a great deal of difference between addictions and habits. Habits do exasperate and feed into addictions. And changing habits can also work toward ending addictions.
Did you ever wonder how Febreze got to be so popular? Read all about it in “The Power of Habit.” Why are those Starbucks workers so darn nice all of the time? And just how is it that when Rosa Parks refused to get out of her bus seat in Montgomery, the Civil Rights movement really gained momentum. The power of habits, perhaps? And then there’s Coach Tony Dungy and his style of coaching, which got him fired many times before it made him famous. He became the only NFL coach to make the playoffs 10 years in a row and the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl. How? Dungy himself said, “Champions don’t do extraordinary things, they do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”
Read this book, please.
I told a friend just the other day that there are just too many books to read, and it is starting to occur to me that I may not get them all read. I’m focusing on what I need to do so I can read even more.
But I’ve nestled into some other pretty good habits over the past months here at Simple Serenity Farm. I spent most of the summer out in my gardens and the harvest was well worth it. I did plenty of canning and freezing. My flowers looked better than I can remember in a long, long time. The flowers were bright and blooming longer than usual, well into November even. Imagine that.
I’ve got our new “bonus room” set up so I can quilt at a moment’s notice and I don’t think I’m half bad at the simple quilting projects I’ve done. I’m still Greene County’s most insecure quilter, but that’s a good place for me to be. I’m grateful that we have the Stitch quilt shop right here in Jefferson with owner Suzanne Sievers to hold my hand on most of my endeavors.
It’s a good life when you spend your time reading, gardening and quilting — all good habits. Or at least I think so.
I’ll give a fuller report on more of the books that have consumed my 2014 reading schedule at the end of the year, when I’ll report what my final book tally is. I’m shooting for 60 – so excuse me, I’ve got a book to read. Right this very minute, it’s “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” by Daniel James Brown.
You can write the columnist at carla@Offenburger.com or comment using the handy form below here.