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Can We Manipulate Ourselves In A Good Way?

Can We Manipulate Ourselves In A Good Way?

I hope you all enjoyed the Father’s Day weekend. The dads in my life had to share the spotlight with my son who celebrated his 16th birthday this weekend.

I enjoyed some outdoor time and continued listening to The Power of Habit, now in chapter 2. If you missed last week’s newsletter on chapter one, check it out here and enjoy my before and after pictures of my covid weight gain and loss.

As I get further into understand habits, I find myself thinking about how easily humans are manipulated. Not particularly surprising as manipulation is the basis for most advertising campaigns. What made me momentarily scoff was the thought of how much we manipulate ourselves.

That is not necessarily bad if we are using it to form good habits rather than rationalizing bad ones. According to Duhigg, new habits are created by putting together a cue, a routine, a reward, and then cultivating a craving that drives the loop.

I thought about how I built a habit of walking 10,000 steps a day. My cue was the time of day. I walk every morning and that became a routine. My reward, don’t laugh, I feel great when my wrist vibrates and I get my star for the day. I am also motivated by the streak. Today will be day 178 without missing my star.

Another example was when I was writing my first book, The 11 Laws of Likability. I had a year to complete it and I thought that was so much time. But the weeks slipped by without any progress on the book and suddenly I needed to write a chapter every two weeks or I would miss the deadline.

To accomplish this momentous and overwhelming goal, I had to build habits around the work. I parred it down into small accomplishable tasks. I created deadlines and rewards for every task. When I finished a section, I would play a round of Words with Friends. If I finished a chapter, I could watch General Hospital.

I also thought about other habits that we build that can be destructive. My Pavlovian response to the ding of the phone. Some habits work for us, and some habits work against us. According to the book, the key is changing the behavior more than the trigger.

With all this theory, I am trying to figure out how to apply it to my current goal… creating a little space in my calendar. Now I just need to determine my cue, routine and reward. I am open to your suggestions.

What will you do with this idea? Think about the things that you’re struggling to accomplish and how you can break them down. Tell me how you plan to celebrate the wins and reward yourself.


Michelle Tillis Lederman, (CSP, PCC, SCC, MBA) is an expert on workplace communications and relationships. Named by Forbes as one of the Top 25 Networking Experts, and one of the Top 30 Communications Professionals in the World by Global Gurus. Michelle is a speaker, trainer, executive coach, and author of four books including The Connector's Advantage and The 11 Laws of Likability. She was invited to the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches Group, “100 Coaches Community brings together the world’s premier leadership thinkers” to seek ways to advance positive impact and give back to society. 

An executive coach, people expert, and CEO of Executive Essentials, Michelle inspires organizations and individuals to build real relationships and get real results. Having worked with fortune 500, non-profit, university and government clients she’s identified the common struggle… it’s people challenges. When asked by her young son what she does, she simply replied, “I help people work better together.” This purpose has driven her work with clients large and small including JPMorgan, J&J, Deutsche Bank, Michigan State University, MetLife, Sony, Ernst & Young, the Department of Environmental Protection, and Madison Square Garden.

She received her BS from Lehigh University, her MBA from Columbia Business School, holds the PCC designation from the International Coaching Federation, and is certified in Marshall Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching method. Executive Essentials is a certified Women Business Enterprise.

You may also contact Michelle at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule her for speaking or leadership engagements.


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