Book Review: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Book Review: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit, written by Charles Duhigg, is a fascinating book that discusses the various biological, psychological and social factors that influence the way that human beings form habits. In fact, the author even shows us how animals, specifically monkeys, The Power of Habit Book Cover.jpgform habits to give us a deeper understanding of how our own “auto-pilot” systems work.

Throughout the book, Duhigg clearly outlines how the “cue-routine-reward” process can be used to change individuals, teams, organizations and communities by harnessing the power of re-designing our “habit loops.”

With each chapter you read, you will begin to understand why you “do what you do” and why it’s hard for you to stop. A crucial step, if you are looking to change yourself for the better.

However, as I mentioned before, this book doesn’t only focus on individual habits, it also focuses on the role that each one of us plays in building habits on a societal level. Another important process we need to understand, if we want to encourage global populations to adopt more accepting, inclusive and eco-friendly ways of living.

The thing that I enjoyed the most about this book was the skillful use of illustrative stories. Where many self-help books might use “mystical” stories or larger-than-life examples to support their arguments, I felt that Duhigg did an excellent job of using popular and unknown people and incidents to highlight the central role that habits play in shaping our daily experience.

One thing’s for sure, this book will make you sit down and think about what “makes you tick” and how choices you are unconsciously making might be dictating the way you eat, the way you sleep, the way move, the way you talk, the way you relate to others etc. If you are looking for a book that will help you get your life or your organization back on track, then you should read The Power of Habit as soon as possible.

About the AuthorCharles Duhigg.png

Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer-winning reporter for The New York Times and the author of The Power of Habit and Smarter, Faster, Better. Originally from New Mexico, Duhigg received a B.A. in history from Yale and went on to get an MBA from Harvard Business School. Duhigg has appeared on various media programs including This American Life, N.P.R., The Newshour with Jim Lehrer and Frontline.

Most Memorable Quote

“… you can never truly extinguish bad habits. Rather to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.”

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Book Review: Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East by Isobel Coleman

Book Review: Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East by Isobel Coleman

Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East, written by Isobel Coleman, is a riveting book that discusses how Muslim women across the world are using the increasingly popular notion of “Islamic Feminism” to empower their respective communities. Not only does Coleman explore the current situation of Muslim women in places like Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudia Arabia etc, she also goes back in time to explain the history of each country to help readers understand why the “social agency” of women has fluctuated over the past couple of decades in the developing world. As a reader who identifies with many of the strong women in this book, even I was paradise-beneath-her-feetunaware of some of the historical events and “social stereotypes” that exist in each country that Coleman discusses. I was also very humbled to learn about the multitude of courageous women out there, who are promoting female empowerment by reclaiming their Islamic narrative, while also trying to eradicate the influence of hundreds of years of un-Islamic cultural practices.

If you want to read a book that will challenge every stereotype you have about women in the MENA region and South Asia, then you should definitely get your hands on Paradise Beneath Her Feet. This book masterfully weaves multiple stories from different countries into a cohesive narrative that shares the trials that women, and their male supporters, face and how they are triumphing despite the odds. It shares the amazing stories of many Muslim “s-heroes” who are rarely given the spotlight, because they don’t fit into the narrative that people have created for the Muslim world. That being so, not every story that Coleman tells has a happy ending. There are several that end tragically, but they need to be told because these women’s efforts to fight for gender equality through an Islamic framework set a precedent. Their courage reminds us that actions can only “be in vain” if they aren’t shared and used to inspire others.

About the Author

Isobel Coleman is currently the U.S. Representative to the United Nations for UN Management and Reform. Prior to that, Coleman worked as a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations for 14 years and was a management consultant with McKinsey & isobelcolemanCompany during the nineties. Her areas of expertise include the political economy of the Middle East, democratization, civil society, economic development, educational reform and gender issues and she has also authored and coauthored various other books, including Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons from Democratic Transitions (Council on Foreign Relations, 2013), The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Security (Routledge Press, 2012), Restoring the Balance: A Middle East Strategy for the Next President (Brookings Institution Press, 2008), and Strategic Foreign Assistance: Civil Society in International Security (Hoover Institution Press, 2006). Coleman holds a BA in public policy and East Asian studies from Princeton University and has a master degree and a PhD in international relations from Oxford University.

Most Memorable Quote

“Frequently I am asked by interested and concerned people around the world, “What can we do to help?” My first response is that help begins with understanding. Too often, I hear people despair about that the unequal treatment of women across the broader Middle East will never change because “that’s their culture.” But sweeping statements like this fail to appreciate that culture is not inmutable.”

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Book Review: Who Will I Become by Sallyann Della Casa

Book Review: Who Will I Become by Sallyann Della Casa

Who Will I Become, written by Sallyann Della Casa, is one of the shortest, yet most powerful books that I’ve read about leadership in a long time. Before I opened the book, I thought to myself: this would be such a cute gift for a new reader. And then I started reading the text and I couldn’t put it down. As a young person in the 21st century, I felt that every quote in the book addressed some existential question that I’ve struggled with and reaffirmed many of my own hard learned lessons. I connected with this book, because it simply conveyed the philosophical truths that we need to understand to embrace who we are, so we can love ourselves and unlock our potential as individuals, leaders and communities.

Anybody who reads this book can tell that it was a labor of love. From the inspiring quotes to the captivating images of Caribbean children, taken by Australian photographer and musician David Lazar, it’s impossible to miss all the compassion in its details. I especially love how Della Casa opens her book with “A Love Letter to a Leader of Tomorrow,” because it reminds of the prayers that my mother has written for me since I was a child. This beautiful letter, which leaves a blank space for the book’s giver to fill in the receiver’s name and to sign off with their own, shares the loving advice that I hope that every person, regardless of their age or background, can receive from the people they love.

Caribbean child from Who Will I Become

As Della Casa said in her introduction to the book, which actually comes at the end, “this book is for children and ‘adults who have lost their way’” and I couldn’t agree more. The older I get, the more I realize that being an adult doesn’t mean you have all the answers, it just means that you’re old enough to pay your own bills – sometimes. Throughout history, people have struggled to survive in the face of great adversity, but for many in the 21st century the challenge is no longer surviving, but thriving. The question that many younger and older people ask themselves today is: how can I find happiness and purpose, while also serving others and the planet? While this book doesn’t have all the answers, it certainly shares many powerful truths that will help you find your own.

Ultimately, what I really like about this book, is the fact that it doesn’t ask readers to “find” the leader in themselves, it actually encourages them to reawaken the inner leader that is often trapped by the self-restricting beliefs that we learn or teach ourselves “to survive.” Whether you’re an adult who wants to “go back to basics” to see how the world should be or you’re a child who wants to see how the world could be, I would highly recommend you read Who Will I Become.

About the AuthorSallyann Della Casa

Currently based in Dubai, Sallyann Della Casa is a
Canadian Trinbagonian and the “Lead
Tree Shaker” of The Growing Leaders Foundation, which focuses on reawakening the potential of leaders, educators and entrepreneurs through inspirational content, workshops and educational curricula that promote leadership skills and innovative capacity building.

Most Memorable Quote

“Who you will become is an evolving reincarnation of self that takes a lifetime. Every day brings with it a new “becoming” so do not give up asking the question.”

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Book Review: Giving by Bill Clinton

Book Review: Giving by Bill Clinton

Giving, written by Bill Clinton, is one of the best books I have ever read on the topic philanthropy! When people think of philanthropy, they usually equate it to donating money to charity. However, in this book, Clinton highlights a variety of ways that any person, no matter how old they are or how much money they make, can give back to their society in a meaningful way. This book is a real page turner and heart warmer, because it demonstrates time and time again that the true key to successful philanthropy is not finances, but drive. Using the example of countless initiatives, including ones that he learned about through The Clinton Foundation, Clinton repeatedly shows us that it is often the people with the least means who accomplish the most, because they will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Reading this book, Clinton also makes you realize that no act or donation is too small, because ultimately anything you give is a sacrifice and every individual’s ability to sacrifice is different. While the book predominantly discusses North American and British NGOs and charities, many of these organizations operate internationally. So, if you are interested in partaking in one of these organizations, you can always see if there is a local chapter in your country. Or, better yet, if you see an idea you like this book encourages you to take the initiative and set up in your own country! I can guarantee you by the time you finish this book, you won’t be able to wait to give back to your community!

If you are passionate about the philanthropy, development work or empowerment, you will love Giving and the way that Clinton makes giving seem like the easiest thing in the world.

About the Author:44 Bill Clinton 3x4.jpg


William J. Clinton, aka Bill Clinton, served as the 42nd president of the United States of
American between 1993 and 2001. Since leaving the White House, has traveled all around the world speaking and supporting humanitarian causes with The Clinton Foundation.

 

Most Memorable Quote:

“In the United States, about 55% of American adults, almost 84 million people, give some time every year. Total time-giving exceeds the hours put in by more than 9 million full-time employees, with a value of $239 billion, almost as much as the $260 billion in financial contributions Americans made in 2005.”

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Book Review: The Challenge for Africa by Wangari Maathai

Book Review: The Challenge for Africa by Wangari Maathai

The Challenge for Africa, written by Wangari Maathai, is a fascinating, and at times morbid, journey through the cultural and socio-political problems of historical and modern Africa. In her book, Maathai fearlessly explores various sensitive issues that plague African communities, but she does it in such a way that offers the reader a deep understanding of
why the issues exist and why they continue to persist. Not only does she masterfully present Africa’s complex issues to the reader, she also offers robust and comprehensive solutions that any person, community or country can use to improve life for themselves and their fellow citizens.

Throughout the book, Mathaai uses her personal narrative to exemplify the countless problems that Africa has faced since the process of decolonization began in the mid-20th century. She discusses issues of identity loss, cultural inferiority, financial dependency, political corruption etc in the context of her life and the life of citizens across Africa. That being said, this book is not all about African woes and historical inequality, it is also a book that discusses the hope and potential of the African people. Mathaai shares the success (and failures) of projects that she implemented through The Green Belt Movement, an environmental organization she established in 1977 and other international efforts.

If you are passionate about the African continent, development work or the environment, you will love The Challenge for Africa and Mathaai’s eloquent perspective on the aforementioned topics.

About the Author:

Wangari Muta Maathai, born on April 1st 1940 was a Kenyan academic, environmental and political activist, who founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977. The aim of this non-governmental environmental organization was the planting of trees and the promotion of environmental conservation and women’s rights.  In 2004, Mathaai became the first African woman to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” After a prolific career as an academic, social and political activist, Maathai died of complications from ovarian cancer in 2011.

Most Memorable Quote:

“This struggle to preserve what they have [animals, environment and culture] and hold it close to them is one that all Africans- indeed, all peoples- should engage in. Because if the soil is denuded and the waters are polluted, the air is poisoned, wildlife is lost, and the mineral riches are mined and sold beyond the continent, nothing will be left that we can call our own. And when we have nothing to call our own, we have nothing to reflect back to us who we truly are. Without the mirror that the natural world presents to us, we will no longer see ourselves, and we will forget who we are.”

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