Movements Are A Habit: The Power of Weak Ties

freedom summer

In my last post, I began discussing why movements are, in many ways, driven by social habits.

In Charles Duhigg’s bestselling book – “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” – he explains that social movements are built upon three elements of social habits: (1) a movement begins with the social habits of friendship; (2) a movement grows because of the power of weak ties; and (3) a movement endures because participants embrace a fresh sense of identity and a feeling of ownership.

Many of us are interested in persuading others to adopt a unique point of view, or corralling a group of people around a worthy cause. This blog series will continue to explore how social habits help make this happen. This post will dive into the second element of social habits discussed by Duhigg: the power of weak ties.

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Movements Are A Habit: Start With Friendship

rosa parks bus

Movements are a habit.

Huh? Let me explain. In Charles Duhigg’s bestselling book – “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” – he explores why we develop habits, how they related to human nature and how we can harness that understanding to transform the way we live our lives, the way we operate our businesses and the way we interact with others.

The book was fascinating, but what I found most interesting was Duhigg’s discussion of the relationship between social movements and social habits. Interestingly, social habits play a large role in the success of social movements.  Social movement often begin by an individual or group persuading others to adopt a unique point of view, or corralling a group of people around a worthy cause.

We do this all the time, whether at work or among friends or with new ideas we share on social networks like Twitter and Facebook.  Sometimes our opinions become wildly popular (perhaps even launch a new movement), while other ideas go largely unnoticed.

Why?

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This Strange Fruit: Part 5

Ariana at train

Ariana checked her iPhone again. Still no reception.

Wonderful. First, locked out of her own apartment by her baby sister, and now this, stuck on a train that apparently had been shut down or had lost electricity or something. Probably the storm. This was not the place she wanted to be on a Tuesday morning, surrounded by powdered blonde women in what she knew were dreadfully uncomfortable heels and old dusty men in boringly stiff suits, rushing off to their corporate palaces in the sky.

She had left that life long ago. Run away from the race.

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The Dangerous Power of Words

young girl

In 2009, Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie delivered a powerful TedEx talk about the danger of believing in a single narrative about a community, called “The Danger of A Single Story.”

In her speech, Adichie talked about her experience attending college in America and meeting classmates who had been exposed to a stereotypical story of Africa.  She explained that her roommates were surprised that she spoke English fluently and listened to Mariah Carey.  However, instead of growing frustrated, she embraced the opportunity to teach by deciding to become a writer and sharing her own fictional stories that highlight the diversity of her African experience.

Sadly, after watching Adichie’s TedEx talk, I empathized with her classmates’ experience.

Although I have always identified myself as an African-American (though, to be more specific, my immediate family is from the island of Dominica in the West Indies), I did not know very much about the life of Africans before attending college.  I also associated Africa with a single narrative, defined by words like poverty and developing.  It wasn’t until after studying abroad during my junior year that I began to understand why such words can harm our understanding of these global challenges and influence the strategies we devise to tackle them.

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What I’ve Been Reading: 4 Book Recommendations for July

bookshelf

I hope your month started off with a fun Independence Day bang (pun intended)!

I spent some time in the sun, relaxing and eating good food with great friends.  I also spent some time reflecting on the books I read this past month that inspired me in different ways.  Hugh Howey and Orson Scott Card reminded me what it feels like to get lost in a fictional world and yearn for more.  Gary Chapman helped me reflect on my love language and consider how my communication preferences impact my interactions with others.  And Maya Angelou reminded me of the importance, beauty and power of authenticity and owning your unique story.

Check out some of the books I read this past month below.  I hope you add one or two to your list for July.

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