Title: Atomic Habits – An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
Author: James Clear
Publication Date: 2018
Recommendation Score: 4.5 / 5
Very interesting book that deals with the science of habits. It can be considered an extension to the book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, with more examples and a kind of user manual guidelines for building and breaking habits (see the tables below).
The author presents the ideas very clearly, inspired by many real-life cases and based on recent results of academic research. He provides useful chapters’ summaries and other insightful resources that you may check on the author’s website jamesclear.com.
The main guidelines that the author suggests to build a new habit or break an old one are presented below (source: jamesclear.com).
Every electrical engineer who works in the field of alternating current (AC) systems should be familiar with the Clarke Transformation concept. What not so many engineers know is that Clarke is a (pioneering) woman engineer called Edith, who managed to find a place for her talent in one of the biggest masculine industries in the first half of the 20th century.
Throughout her career, Clarke was often the first in her endeavors, whether the first professionally employed female electrical engineer in the United States, the first female full voting member of the AIEE (that would become IEEE), or the first full time female professor of electrical engineering in the US. She had substantially contributed to the development of mathematical methods that simplify the design and analysis of AC power systems (equivalent circuits, graphical analysis, etc.).
Life and Career
Clarke was born in Maryland in 1883 and was orphaned at a young age. She studied mathematics and astronomy at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, USA, and received an Bachelor degree in 1908. Then after 3 years as a teacher (in mathematics), in the fall of 1911, she enrolled in the civil engineering program at the University of Wisconsin, but left after a year to become a computing assistant to George A. Campbell at American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T), where she could acquire good knowledge about the transmission lines and electrical circuits.
From MIT to GE
Edith Clarke enrolled in electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1918, to earn an M.S. degree in 1919, and was the first woman to receive an electrical engineering degree at the school. She then joined General Electric (GE) in Schenectady in 1920, where she trained and directed a small group of women computers doing calculations of mechanical stresses in turbine rotors. In 1921, she filed a successful patent application on a graphical calculator to be used in solving transmission line problems, and it was published in her first technical paper in the GE Review in 1923.
Title: The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change.
Author: Charles Duhigg
Publication Date: 2012
Recommendation Score: 4.5 / 5
The book deals with habit aspects, at individual level, in organizations and in societies. It is quite enjoyable to read. It helps you understand how habits work, how to create them and how to replace them (unfortunately they cannot be removed).
What I really liked about the book is the examples and how they are meshed with the results of academic research. Examples of ordinary people, organizations (Alcoa, Starbucks, etc.), sports teams, social and political movements (the civil rights movement, Saddleback church), etc. show how habits shape our everyday life, and how they are able to create dramatic changes if changed carefully.
Here are some takeaways
The habit loop: Cue –> Routine –> Reward. Once the cue appears, the loop is triggered.
The craving brain: the cue, in addition to triggering the routine, must elicit a craving for the reward. The brain starts to anticipate (crave) the reward as soon as the cue shows up.
The golden rule of habit change: keep the same cue, the same reward, change the routine by inserting a new one. It is not easy, and it needs a Belief that the (permanent) change is possible.
Keystone habits: some habits are more powerful than the others, they are called “keystone habits”. They have an impact on other habits and have the power to change them. A very interesting example of Paul O’Neill, when CEO of Alcoa company, is presented to highlight how a keystone habit can transform an organization.
Small wins convert cumulative successes into routines.
Willpower: it is a very important keystone habit, it is a “muscle” that needs to be trained. It helps individuals to build self-discipline and to develop self-control.
Crisis are opportunities for good leaders to remake organizational habits.