All creatures of habit great and small
Scene witnessed while I waited in a customer service queue; the venue shall remain nameless: just ahead stood a young woman juggling several items requiring the attention of the person behind the counter--and a cell phone parked between shoulder and ear.
Deep in her narration of personal issues (about which the rest of us would have preferred to remain ignorant), the chatterer glanced up periodically to see when she might expect her turn. Not frequently enough, though; absorbed in conversation, she failed to notice that a clerk had looked meaningfully at her a couple of times--the clerk who currently had no one in front of her and had occupied herself with paperwork, awaiting an opening to invite the customer forward.
In the fleeting moment between ending one conversation and speed-dialing the next one, the customer did achieve eye contact with the staffer. And that was sufficient. "Ah," the employee observed, "If you've finished talking, I can assist you now."
That phone disappeared like magic. Judging from the covert smiles registered on other faces in line, I wasn't the only one who approved.
Resorting to phone chat to fill every spare moment is a habit--an annoying one, in this case--but who doesn't have one or two of those? Coincidentally, I just got my hands on Round Rock Public Library's copy of Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.
I love a good makeover as much as the next reader, and this book stands out amid transformational titles. It doesn't exhort you to become a different person so much as it promotes awareness of why you've allowed cravings to drive you while underscoring how much change potential you already possess.
Though not far into the book, I've spotted some easily relatable examples that could equip even non-science major types to grasp the mental processes in question. I comprehended the fundamentals of string theory for about five minutes after reading Brian Greene, so clearly anything is possible.
Referencing unique case studies, historical events (Montgomery bus boycott), and popular culture (Febreze marketing, Cinnabons franchise locations, Tony Dungy's coaching), Duhigg's message is loaded with empowerment.
This is a busy week, so I'm relieved to note that the text portion of The Power of Habit is under 300 pages. I can finish it and still avoid the habit of overdue book returns. And besides, small items can still exert tremendous influence for good or ill. Just consider the power of cookies, lottery tickets, and smartphones.