The Power of Habit: Chapter 3


To change a habit you need to substitute another routine with a cue and still give a reward. Duhigg uses Alcoholics Anonymous and Tony Dungy’s coaching as examples.

Two of the steps in AA are really about recognizing cues. Tony Dungy simplified his defense and asked players to react to cues the same way each time, hoping the speed of their reactions would give his team advantages.

In AA many who do not relapse credit the higher power. Some researchers credit more generic belief that things will get better- this guy did it, so I can, too. Anecdotally, Dungy and his players claimed in high stress situations his players reverted to old, bad habits. They did not react as trained. I’m not sure I completely buy this, because generally the opponents in playoff games were generally better teams.

But, in short, to change a habit, first recognize cues that start the habit. Substitute another routine for the habit. Believe you can change. Peer support might help.

After finishing this chapter I get the impression this is one days lesson in a sophomore psychology class. It was interesting to me because it was new to me. I’m not sure an expert would have learned much except some interesting details about Dungy’s coaching style.

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