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Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know by Adam Grant

If you're certain of anything, you're certainly wrong because nothing deserves absolute certainty," said Bertrand Russell, a philosopher back in 1933. Today, Adam Grant, in his Think Again, marks the importance of rethinking as the most pivotal way to grow. The core of this book is the emphasis on the value of intellectual humility – acknowledging that what we know is not all there is to know, and what we believe to be true might change with new information. Equipped with many examples, tested in his university with his students and peers, he managed, as Forbes wrote, "to turn our very way of thinking upside down."


These are my book insights into Adam Grant's "Think Again." My notes are informal and contain quotes from the book. Each book summary has a short description, top lessons from the book, beyond the book section, and favorite quotes. Enjoy!


 

Top 10 Lessons from the Book

 

1.     Mindset of Four Distinct Professions: Differentiating between the preacher, prosecutor, and politician mindsets and promoting the scientist mindset as a more practical approach to thinking and learning. If you're a scientist, rethinking is fundamental to your profession. You're expected to doubt what you know, be curious about what you don't know, and update your views based on new data. Being a scientist is not just a profession. It's a frame of mind —a mode of thinking that differs from preaching, prosecuting, and politicking.


2.     Dunning-Kruger Effect: Understanding the cognitive bias of overestimating one's knowledge or ability and the importance of humility in recognizing our limitations. In the original Dunning-Kruger studies, people who scored the lowest on tests of logical reasoning, grammar, and sense of humor had the most inflated opinions of their skills. On average, they believed they did better than 62 percent of their peers but, in reality, outperformed only 12 percent of them.


3.     Imposter Syndrome: Addressing the positive aspect of imposter syndrome as a sign of self-awareness and the potential for growth through reevaluating one's abilities and accomplishments. The first upside of feeling like an impostor is that it can motivate us to work harder. Second, impostor thoughts can motivate us to work smarter. Third, feeling like an impostor can make us better learners. Having some doubts about our knowledge and skills takes us off a pedestal, encouraging us to seek out insights from others.


4.     In a great argument, our adversary is not a foil but a propeller. With twin propellers spinning in divergent directions, our thinking doesn't get stuck on the ground; it takes flight.


5.     Values: Emphasizing the importance of foundational principles that guide our thinking and the willingness to reassess and align our beliefs with these core values. When it comes to other people, don't try to change to other people's values. Appeal to the values that they already hold.


6.     Negotiations: Rackham said, "A weak argument generally dilutes a strong one." The more reasons we put on the table, the more accessible it is for people to discard the shakiest one. They can easily dismiss our entire case once they reject one of our justifications. That happened regularly to the average negotiators: they brought too many weapons to battle. They lost ground not because of the strength of their most compelling point but because of the weakness of their least compelling one.


7.     Motivational Interview: Active listening and critical questioning are significant in challenging our assumptions and fostering a deeper understanding. Motivational interviewing involves three key techniques: asking open-ended questions, engaging in reflective listening, and affirming the person's desire and ability to change.


8.     Joy of Failure: Reconceptualizing failure as an opportunity for learning and growth rather than something to be avoided.


9.     The art of influential listening - The power of listening doesn't lie just in giving people the space to reflect on their views. It's a display of respect and an expression of care.


10.  The best performers are the ones who started their jobs believing their work would positively impact others. Givers would (therefore) be more successful than takers because they would be energized by the difference their actions made in others' lives.


Favorite quotes from the book:


"How can I tell what I think till I see what I say?" E. M. Forster

Adam Grant


 "The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof sh*t detector."

Ernest Hemingway


"Exhausting someone in argument is not the same as convincing him."

TIM KREIDER


“When conflict is cliché, complexity is breaking news.”

AMANDA RIPLEY


“No schooling was allowed to interfere with my education.”

GRANT ALLEN


“If only it weren’t for the people . . . earth would be an engineer’s paradise.”

KURT VONNEGUT



Beyond the book

 

Besides his books, Grant writes extensively for the general public through articles and opinion pieces in major publications like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. His writing covers various topics, from the future of work to the psychology behind everyday life decisions.

 

He hosts the popular podcast "WorkLife with Adam Grant," where he explores the science of work and how to make work not suck. Through interviews with professionals from various fields, Grant uncovers unique work cultures and practices that lead to greater satisfaction and productivity.

 

If you liked the book you can visit Adam Gran’s website and complete “Think Again Assessment” https://adamgrant.net/quizzes/think-again-quiz/

 

 

My favorite interview, part of the TED talk, was, of course, with Jay Shetty.



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