I had the privilege of participating in Charles Duhigg's Masterclass earlier this week. He's the author of "The Power of Habit" and "Smarter, Better, Faster". I hold him in high regard as if it weren't for his compilation of habit science, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today as well as I'm doing it.
Here are ALL the notes:
-Get in the habit of telling yourself what's occurring, while it's occurring. Tell yourself DETAILED stories (which become mental scripts) of what’s occurring.
-Get in the habit of telling yourself stories about your day and what would be done in case of an emergency. This is a surefire way to create the most effective mental models that increase situational awareness. Mental models and situational awareness may be the largest indicators for leadership and productivity.
-A Cognitive Tunnel - What happens when your brain feels overloaded. For example, it’s what happens when you're driving down the freeway and you see a cop car and suddenly slam on the brakes, even though you may not have even been going above the speed limit.
It’s when you latch onto the most obvious stimuli and simply react to it. That's a disaster in most other scenarios.
A different story is needed for mental rehearsal in order to feel in charge and control yourself.
Your mental scripts should be realistic and put you in control.
**The key to focus = getting in the habit of telling yourself a story of what's going on as it occurs. Rather than being in the cognitive tunnel, you are making choices.**
1 chapter in Smarter, Better, Faster discusses this.
When you feel in control, it is much easier to motivate yourself. The key to feeling in control is to have a system for making decisions. Changing a chore into a choice.
Starbucks example: You may think Starbucks simply sells coffee, but what they actually sell is CUSTOMER SERVICE - soft music, wood paneling, barista asking your name - they're able to charge $4.50 dollars for a latte that costs them 13 cents to make. They know that if they deliver the right customer service, you're going to pay more. Their business model is geared towards customer service.
Problem: They mostly hire 19 year olds. 19 year olds don't have the most willpower and do stupid things.
Marshmallow Experiment – Kids were put in a room with a marshmallow and told that they would get a second marshmallow if they waited for the lady to return to the room. Only one of the kids was able to last 10 minutes and get two marshmallows (in the video, the boy SCARFED his hard-earned marshmallows down in 1 second flat).
Researchers did a more extensive, longer experiment, tracking kids from elementary school through life and learned that the kids who were able to resist the marshmallow got better grades, got higher paying jobs, stayed married longer, etc. They had more willpower.
The best part about all of this is that: You can TEACH people willpower. You can teach a habit of willpower.
Howard Schultz talked to researchers and redesigned all of Starbucks’ training manuals to teach people willpower habits. 1st week of work: Manager sits you down and teaches you the LATTE habit - if a customer comes in and they're angry (you got their order wrong), what you should do is "LATTE" them. LISTEN, ACKNOWLEDGE, THANK them for complaining, TAKE care of complaint, and then EXPLAIN why it would never happen again. LATTE is a basic pneumonic. It works because of the reward that it gives - if you're 19 and you had a fight with your mom and someone comes in and they're rude to you, your instinct is to run away or fight back – or do something stupid, like write a bad word on a customer's cup. Now, Starbucks has told you exactly what to do (you LATTE them). When research came back, Starbucks employees had claimed to use LATTE often outside of work as well.
If you give a 19 yr old a technique like LATTE, it makes them feel like they're in control. It makes them feel as though they can handle the situation. If you can find something that makes you feel like you're in control of the situation, you're going to have an easier time motivating.
If you struggle with procrastination - find some choice you can make, something that makes you feel in control. Just start making choices. [Obviously not something purposely destructive].
Find whatever choice you can because that choice is going to trigger the part of your brain where motivation resides. If you can turn a chore into a choice, you're going to get it done much faster and much easier.
What matters most with teams:
How team members treat each other.
Do you have group norms and habits where people feel like they can speak up and be listened to? (Psychological safety). It isn't about the small tactical things (I.e. what time of day you meet), it's about how you work together. What matters are the norms/environment.
Google says the most important are: 1) Psychological safety, 2) Dependability, 3) Structure, 4) Clarity (meaning, “does this have a deeper meaning? Is it important to the company?”), and 5) Impact.
Audience Q &A:
Q: How can we resist the marshmallows of life if we're already in the tunnel of cognition (cognitive tunnel)? (I personally LOVED the wording of this question and applauded at the wittiness).
A: Pull yourself out of the tunnel. Entering the tunnel is a choice.
Envision your day hour by hour [you can do this in tha showa]. **“If I was telling myself a story of my day at the end of the day, how do I want that story to go?”**
Charles’ method = a TO-DO list of SMART goals – which is essentially a system for telling yourself a story for how you want things to unfold and putting attainable goals in place. If you're in a cognitive tunnel, the key is to close your eyes, take your hands off the controls, and tell yourself the right story.
Q: How do we bring marketing and sales teams together and loosen the tension?
A: There's always tension between the two - one team tends to believe the other is getting in the way.
Know that you can't manipulate vulnerability. You have to create an environment where people tell each other exactly what they're feeling. Method for airing those tensions = coming up with systems where people feel they're really speaking up or like they HAVE to speak up about what's important to them. They should feel as though everyone else is genuinely listening.
Q: What about the Pomodoro technique? (30 minute timer - 25 minutes of work - 5 minute break - rinse and repeat)
A: It's a commitment device. If it works for you, do it. SMART goals are also a commitment device - forcing you to break a big plan into smaller pieces. Experiment with different commitment devices and pay attention to what works for you. Some people can't do SMART goals, but Pomodoro works for them. Some people can't do the Pomodoro technique, but excel when implementing SMART goals. Find something that works. “Smarter, Better, Faster” is about trying to run experiments in your own life and paying attention to the DATA that comes from them.
Pay attention to why it works. People who are productive are people who see all of their choices as experiments. Some experiments fail. If all experiments succeeded, then that’s not a great laboratory. ******With experiments, some should succeed, some should fail - the most IMPORTANT aspect is paying attention and observing the whole time. Taking that data and using it is the only way to implement change and adapt.*******
Q: My phone is distracting to me, should I turn it off?
A: We have learned how to manage the distractions of conversation with new external stimuli. When cars first began to hit the roads, it was a DANGEROUS time because people had to be extremely conscious of this new technology zooming around. There were no convenient mental models in place to lessen the danger, they had to be created immediately. As we grow up, we learn a story of how streets work (we're taught by our parents to look both ways before crossing) until it becomes a mental model that we have and implement. The beeps and interruptions are less likely to bother the newer generations that grow up with them.
Short answer: Turn your phone off OR teach your brain how to accommodate all of the noise in the environment.
Q: How about people who feel shy or scared to speak in a group?
A: The book, Quiet, explains this in detail.
It really comes down to the leader, it's not just YOUR responsibility to talk up in a meeting, it's ALSO the responsibility of whoever's leading that time to find the right opportunity and environment for you to talk up. Leaders (both introverts and extroverts), extroverts, and introverts, should read Quiet - it's about helping introverts be their best selves. A lot of that is about, "When do you feel comfortable speaking?" Small generalization: Extroverts like to think out loud, while Introverts often times like to figure out what they want to say before they say it. How do you create an environment as a leader of a team that encourages people to speak in a way that's most comfortable to them?
Ending note with an example of how Charles makes this work for him:
If you have a chore in front of you, figure out some choice.
Example: "I hate replying to emails, it's boring, I don't care".
The way Charles does it - Sit down at 6PM or whenever you have a calm slot of time -> identify all the emails needed to reply to -> hit reply on all for a bunch of emails (a whole bunch of tabs open up) -> go into each and immediately type in/respond to whatever’s being asked. Fill up all the emails with some choice that you've made. Sometimes the choices are small or stupid. Just make a choice - force yourself. “John: Lunch tomorrow?” You: Yeah, sure just not Indian. -> THEN go back into all the emails and type in all the pleasantries. “Hi John, I would enjoy getting lunch with you tomorrow.” -> Then decide "ehh, was that choice I made the right one?"
The process takes 20 minutes rather than an entire hour. It feels empowering.
We should all be subversives. We should all figure out how to make choices out of the chores of life.
CEO, Ascendance Medical Marketing