Notes & Quotes: Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

The following are my favorite quotes from Charles Duhigg's Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business.
  1. Productivity, put simply, is the name we give our attempts to figure out the best uses of our energy, intellect, and time as we try to seize the most meaningful rewards with the least wasted effort.
  2. People who know how to self-motivate, according to studies, earn more money than their peers, report higher levels of happiness, and saw they are more satisfied with their families, jobs, and lives.
  3. When people believe they are in control, they tend to work harder and push themselves more.
  4. Motivation is triggered by making choices that demonstrate to ourselves that we are in control.
  5. "Internal locus of control has been linked with academic success, higher self-motivation and social maturity, lower incidences of stress and depression, and longer life span," a team of psychologists wrote in the journal Problems and Perspectives in Management in 2012.
  6. We praise people for doing things that are hard. That's how they learn to believe they can do them.
  7. If you can link something hard to a choice you care about, it makes the task easier.
  8. To teach ourselves to self-motivate more easily, we need to learn to see our choices not just as expressions of control but also as affirmations of our values and goals.
  9. These small acts of defiance were, in the grand scheme of things, relatively minor. But they psychologically powerful because the subversives saw the rebellions as evidence that they were still in control of their own lives.
  10. The choices that are most powerful in generating motivation are decisions that do two things: They convince us we're in control and they endow our actions with larger meaning.
  11. We should reward initiative, congratulate people for self-motivation, celebrate when an infant wants to feed herself. We should applaud a child who shows defiant, self-righteous stubbornness and reward a student who finds a way to get things done by working around the rules.
  12. Self-motivation is a choice we make because it is part of something bigger and more emotionally rewarding than the immediate task that needs doing.
  13. Saturday Night Live has been held up as a model of great team dynamics. It is cited in college textbooks as an example of what groups can achieve when the right conditions are in place and a team intensely bonds. The group that created Saturday Night Live came together so successfully, this theory goes, because a communal culture replaced individual needs.
  14. For psychological safety to emerge among a group, teammates don't have to be friends. They do, however, need to be socially sensitive and ensure everyone feels heard.
  15. Teams success when everyone feels like they can speak up and when members show they are sensitive to how one another feels.
  16. People who know how to manage their attention and who habitually build robust mental models tend to earn more money and get better grades. Moreover, experience shows that anyone can learn to habitually construct mental models. By developing a habit of telling ourselves stories about what's going on around us, we learn to sharpen where our attention goes.
  17. Narrate your life as it's occurring, and then when your boss suddenly asks a question or an urgent note arrives and you have only minutes to reply, the spotlight in your head will be ready to shine the right way.
  18. To become genuinely productive, we must take control of our attention, we must build mental models that put us firmly in charge. When you're driving to work, force yourself to envision your day. While you're sitting in a meeting or at lunch, describe to yourself what you're seeing and what it means. Find other people to hear your theories and challenge them. Get in a pattern of forcing yourself to anticipate what's next.
  19. Numerous academic studies have examined the impact of stretch goals, and have consistently found that forcing people to commit to ambitious, seemingly out-of-reach objectives can spark outsized jumps in innovation and productivity.
  20. Stretch goals, paired with SMART thinking, can help put the impossible within reach.
  21. If you're confronted with a list of only far-reaching objectives, you're more likely to get discouraged and turn away.
  22. No one goes to work wanting to suck. If you put people in a position to succeed, they will.
  23. The only culture that was a consistent winner were the commitment firms. Hands down, a commitment culture outperformed every other type of management style in almost every meaningful way.
  24. Employees work smarter and better when they believe they have more decision-making authority and when they believe their colleagues are committed to their success.
  25. To become better at predicting the future -- at making good decisions -- we need to know the difference between what we hope will happen and what is more and less likely to occur.
  26. What matters is committing to odds that pay off in the long run.
  27. Making good choices relies on forecasting the future. Accurate forecasting requires exposing ourselves to as many successes and disappointments as possible.
If you enjoyed the quotes, check out the book!