Real change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of small decisions. That is the message of James Clear’s recent book Atomic Habits. Business leaders can learn many tricks from this inspiring publication.

Entrepreneur James Clear recently published the book Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. According to Clear, the best method to improve your life is the compound effect of many small decisions. And the best way to accomplish these changes is to teach yourself new habits.

Triggering the Brain

Further developing the ideas from The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, the core of Clear’s book is the neurological feedback loop that forms the basis of habits. According to Duhigg, the process of building a habit is comprised of the following 4 steps:

  1. Cue: Your brain gets information (for example you see a cake).
  2. Craving: This information awakens desire in you (you want to eat the cake).
  3. Response: You perform an action (you eat a piece of the cake).
  4. Reward: You feel well (the piece of cake satisfied you).

James Clear's 4 Laws of Behavior Change

Based on these steps, Clear formulates his “4 Laws of Behavior Change.” These will help to trigger the feedback loop:

  1. Cue: Make it obvious.
  2. Craving: Nake it attractive.
  3. Response: Make it easy.
  4. Reward: Make it satisfying.

Applying these 4 laws makes the desired behavior easier to implement. Furthermore, you can invert these laws to learn how to break a bad habit.

Atomic Habits in the Workplace

In his book, Clear focuses specifically on the individual reader. There is a bonus chapter “How to Apply These Ideas to Business” that can be downloaded on his website (a smart method to generate leads, by the way), but in the hardcopy volume, this subject is very much the Cinderella.

Because of this hiatus, Atomic Habits inspired me to ponder a little bit on Clear’s laws in a business setting. For example, how can these ideas help you and your staff to work more effectively? Below are some of my thoughts.

  • Cue: When it relates to your individual work, put high priority work in a prominent place on your desk, or make sure it is at the top of your mailbox. When it relates to your staff, ask them to remove applications from the home screen of their business smartphones if these apps distract them.
  • Craving: Set concrete goals for yourself. Make the work for your employees more attractive by adding competitive elements. Also, maintain team spirit.
  • Response: Remove friction from the workspace. Annoying employees who disrupt the process? Fire them! Processes that do not run efficiently? Optimize them!
  • Reward: Good results should be celebrated. Reward yourself with a Mars bar if you have achieved your goal. Also, reward the good behavior of your team, not only through financial incentives such as decent wages, but also through intangible things. A pat on the back by the boss is one of the best motivations to keep the staff performing excellently.

Atomic Habits is a title that I strongly recommend. By the way, do you like to read books about optimizing your performance? Then I have good news for you. At RevelX, we will publish our book soon. DARE: A Mindset for Innovators in the Digital Age will provide a framework for calculated risk-taking. It guides you through a 10-step discovery to find innovation and novelty in the midst of uncertainty. You can download the prologue here.

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