I am a huge Adam Grant fan, and I think this is my favorite of his books yet. Adam dives deep into how we value intelligence and that it goes beyond the ability to think and learn. The value of intelligence in today’s age is our ability to unlearn and rethink what we think or believe to be true.
Kerry’s Book Review
Everything in this book validates what I try to do daily – apply counterfactual thinking. According to Wiki, “counterfactual thinking is a concept in psychology that involves the human tendency to create possible alternatives to life events that have already occurred; something that is contrary to what happened.” Some call these alternative facts, but I use counterfactual thinking to challenge what I believe to be true, just in case it’s not.
The book’s first section is about opening your mind and walks readers through what “thinking again” really means. The second part of the book looks at ways to encourage others to think again or think along with you. The third section is about creating communities of lifelong learners.
I love what Daniel Kahneman said about the book: “Adam Grant believes that keeping an open mind is a teachable skill. And no one could teach this hugely valuable skill better than he does in this wonderful read. The striking insights of this brilliant book are guaranteed to make you rethink your opinions and your most important decisions.” How relevant is this today?
Adam gives practical advice on how to talk to people who believe differently than you in a way that creates an open dialog, not one where each side is trying to win an argument. He challenges you to try to see things from different perspectives and take time to understand what the other side cares about. He walks you through the process of why we need to think about our brief systems, our confidence in certain subjects and use this in business and our social life. If we all thought more deeply about why we believe what we believe, it would help us understand other people better. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with the other side, but it’s helpful to find common ground. It’s the only way we can get ourselves out of the mess we are in as a society.
The book was so helpful that I used to resolve a conflict with someone I don’t see eye-to-eye with. I was inspired to look at my perspective objectively and through the lens of another person. I was able to see flaws in my thinking and was inspired to propose an entirely different solution that we could both get behind…one that accounted for his viewpoints and beliefs.
My favorite line in the book: “We won’t have much luck changing other people’s minds if we refuse to change ours. We can demonstrate openness by acknowledging where we agree with our critics and even what we’ve learned from them. Then, when we ask what views they might be willing to revise, we’re not hypocrites.”
- Adam outlines the three flavors in which we typically communicate about our beliefs: Preacher, Procestuor, or Politician. He says, “The risk is that we become so wrapped up in preaching that we’re right, prosecuting others who are wrong, and politicking for support that we don’t bother to rethink our own views.” I can see myself in all three of these and have stopped myself mid-sentence, especially when I get preachy.
- It’s worth thinking again because if you learn you are wrong, you can update your thinking. I would rather admit I’m wrong than hang onto a false belief. He says, “The goal is not to be wrong more often. It’s to recognize that we’re all wrong more often than we’d like to admit, and the more we deny it, the deeper the hole we dig for ourselves.”
- I am a big believer in trying to understand bias in my thinking. Adam writes: “In psychology, there are at least two biases that drive this pattern. One is confirmation bias: seeing what we expect to see. The other is desirability bias: seeing what we want to see. My favorite bias is the “I’m not biased” bias, in which people believe they’re more objective than others. It turns out that smart people are more likely to fall into this trap. The brighter you are, the harder it can be to see your own limitations. Being good at thinking can make you worse at rethinking.”
- The most effective leaders score high in both confidence and humility. They understand their strengths and weaknesses and challenge the way they think about things. He says, “When adults have the confidence to acknowledge what they don’t know, they pay more attention to how strong evidence is and spend more time reading material that contradicts their opinions.”
- Build a challenge network, a group of people you trust to point out blind spots or flaws in your thinking. A strong challenge network will help you overcome your weaknesses.
- And finally, look at negotiation as a dance, not a fight. Don’t go on the offense or defense. Instead, seek to understand the other side and ask questions like, “So you don’t see any merit in this proposal at all?
Like this? Check out my blog on why you shouldn’t believe everything you think.