All your questions for Naomi Adler, Esq., answered! This week’s question:
What leadership book would you recommend, and what lessons did you learn?
One of my favorite books is the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, which is about understanding habits: how and why they happen, and how to change them. The book cites research that 45% of our decisions aren’t decisions at all, but actually habits we act on without thinking! I found that eye-opening. Also stunning to me was realizing how much time is needed to adopt a good habit. It can take weeks for a new habit to become ingrained enough that you start doing it automatically, whether it’s a personal habit, like drinking water instead of caffeine (as I’m trying to do); or an organizational habit, like our new Jewish Federation practice of wearing security badges at the office. Duhigg describes all kinds of techniques to successfully adopt new habits. But the key is repetition.
I’ll harken back to Judaism here, because it made me think of the repetitive nature of prayer — the idea that prayer rituals are, in a sense, a habit you pick up over time, and become their own reward. For instance, when someone passes away, the tradition asks you to regularly engage in a minyan to say Kaddish for the first year, until it becomes an essential habit, and gives you tools to help deal with the mental health process of mourning. For me, I structure my own day with prayer rituals that make me pause and reflect. I start the day with Modah Ani. I end the day with Shema. And in between, I always say a gratitude prayer. No matter what the rest of my day might look like, I always recite those three prayers, and feel anchored.