The Positive Power of Addiction in Your Business (and some mental tricks to go along with it)

by Gabe Arnold

Right now, I’m sitting in my little office, drinking coffee and listening to Frank Sinatra sing “That’s Life”. The routine of having my coffee, Frank singing to me and writing my first post of the day is something that I am totally addicted too. If you want to be successful, you have to find ways to kick-start positive addictions in your life.

Why do people drink? Why do people shoot heroine in their arms? Why do people work out at the gym every day?

While those are a huge range of addictions, they are all addictions both good and bad. In Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion he speaks about this concept “click click whir”. This concept explains that if we set up familiar actions or external influences our minds will help us start acting in the accepted or expected behavior.

Robert tells a story of how scientists, along a beautiful stretch of country highway, knocked on homeowners’ doors and asked them if they would be willing to sign a petition that said something like: “We support preserving the environment in our county.” The subjects of this study signed without any problem. Of course they wanted to save the environment and keep their beautiful countryside clean. Next, the scientists came back and asked the same folks who had signed the petition if they could place a small yard sign about 12” high and 18” wide in their yard that said “keep our county beautiful” and, once again, the subjects of the study said yes. The final step of the study came when the scientists came back to the subjects and asked them if they could place a huge billboard sign in their front yard that said, “Keep our county beautiful.” This sign was so large that it obstructed the subjects’ views of the countryside, but the majority of them said yes.

This is the story as I remember it (you should read the whole book to get the actual accurate version) and I want to point out to you the tactics at work here so you can apply them to yourself. If you can unlock the power of addiction and mental conditioning you’ll be able to conquer your goals at a steady pace.

The reason that the subjects of this study allowed the scientists to place the billboards in their yards at the end is twofold:

  • First, the subjects had been conditioned to make two micro commitments before the billboard idea was pitched. Do you remember what they were?
    • Signing something. That is a micro endorsement and micro “yes” to what’s to come. This is a little known way to influence yourself and others around you.
    • They also agreed to the small sign being placed in their yard. A bigger micro yes – but still a micro yes at that.
  • Second, culturally we are all taught that consistency is more important than logic. We’re raised to think that it is better to be consistent with our decisions than it is to break the consistency for a more logical reason.
    • Our minds like stability and security. We can achieve this through doing the same things or following the same paths over and over. Sound familiar? It’s just like an addiction.
    • With an inbred desire to be consistent, the subjects of the study would rather put a billboard in their yard than contradict their professed support of keeping the county or environment beautiful. Even though putting up a giant billboard is irrational to have for one’s own enjoyment and probably illogical in terms of making the countryside beautiful, they’d been conditioned by the rule of consistency. Pretty fascinating isn’t it?

Let’s go back to my example. When I brew my first cup of coffee and turn on Frank Sinatra I am manually creating influential conditions. These are the click clicks of my environment that trigger what blogger Billy Murphy called the “flow state” in one of his recent podcasts.

Think about an addiction you have. One cup of coffee in the morning for me is a total addiction. Is that really a bad thing? I don’t think so. It’s something that I associate with happiness, music and peaceful writing therapy.

Every time I follow my morning routine, I am creating that sensation of happiness and productivity even before I sit down to write. This is what’s so positive and powerful about addiction. Because I’ve created this addictive behavior I can now write a thousand or two thousand words in less than an hour. It’s almost like my brain goes into autopilot and I just start writing effortlessly.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can become addicted to that positive behavior with one or two tries. It’s just like any other addiction; it takes a lot of choices. Choices to put yourself in the right environment, choices to try the new behavior over and over until it becomes habit, and choices to keep driving that habit until it becomes and effortless addiction that you love – something that you really crave.

Are you addicted yet?

What do you need to be addicted to in order to succeed? Is it sales? Is it writing? Is it training or product creation?

Whatever the addiction required to reach success may be, you need to start working towards being addicted to it. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can achieve outlandish success without making some outlandish decisions.

Think a little differently today. Act a little differently. Achieve different results with your new, positive addiction.

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