Book Lessons

11 Lessons from Think Again by Adam Grant

What I learnt about rethinking and relearning from Adam Grant’s new book .

Source : Google and Amazon

Lesson 1 — The most important lesson. Think like a scientist.

We generally tend to operate with the mindset of a politician, preacher or prosecutor when it comes to our beliefs. Instead, Grant says, we should operate like a scientist.

If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom

Lesson 2 — Develop Confident Humility

In this chapter Grant shares an example of his own rethinking. He thought people are always trying to get the right balance of confidence and humility. Then he found out that confidence and humility are not the opposite sides of a see-saw. They can go hand in hand. The sweet spot where we can have both confidence and humility is called Confident Humility.

The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning Kruger club.

As per the Dunning- Kruger effect, we are more likely to show overconfidence when we are actually lacking in confidence. Or as the ancients used to say — little knowledge is dangerous.

Lesson 3 — Detaching Opinion from Identity

This chapter is about how we become attached to certain ideas and how we deal with finding out that they are wrong.

Lesson 4 — Argue about HOW and not WHY

This chapter is about rethinking in the context of arguments and disagreements. How the principles of rethinking can be applied to ensure more constructive conversations.

Lesson 5 — How to win debates and negotiate well

The next set of chapters are about influencing others to rethink. This first one is about debates and negotiations.

  • Focus on fewer but stronger points. Too many arguments, including some not so strong ones, dilute the merit of your strongest points . The opponent can easily refute your weakest point and make your overall argument look bad.
  • Ask questions. Instead of going on the offensive and attacking the opponent's’ arguments, skilled negotiators operate in a more nuanced manner. They express curiosity by asking questions like “What evidence will change your mind ?. Such questions help in opening up the minds of both teams and they are more likely to seek new information and discover a solution which works for both teams. Questions also allow in considering new scenarios which could open new win-win possibilities.

Lesson 6 — Breaking Stereotypes and Prejudices

Human beings seek belonging and status. Belonging to a group helps them achieve both. But it also means they start identifying with the stereotypes associated with the group. These stereotypes and prejudices are very hard to break down. Even for those people, who deep down, believe that the beliefs are false. They don’t have strong conviction but they will still defend those beliefs rabidly in public as they form part of the group’s identity. This gets reinforced as you spend more time with the group.

Lesson 7 — Changing mindsets through Motivational Interviewing

The example in the book is of a mother who refuses to vaccinate her newborn. Such mindsets are hard to break. Logical arguments are definitely not the solution here, even if they are scientifically right.

Lesson 8 — Dealing with Polarised Mindsets

The next 3 lessons are about collective rethinking in groups. Starting with polarisation.

Lesson 9 — Rethinking for Kids

There are lots of stories of great educators who have made education fun by instilling a curious and scientific mindset. I am going with something which I found very simple and yet extremely powerful.

Lesson 10 — Learning Organizations

Combining Psychological Safety and Process Accountability to create a learning zone.

Lesson 11 — Career Planning and Identity Foreclosure

This is especially important for parents in India. I have selected this because I am guilty of doing as a parent myself.

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