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Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know Hardcover – Feb. 2 2021
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“THIS. This is the right book for right now. Yes, learning requires focus. But, unlearning and relearning requires much more—it requires choosing courage over comfort. In Think Again, Adam Grant weaves together research and storytelling to help us build the intellectual and emotional muscle we need to stay curious enough about the world to actually change it. I’ve never felt so hopeful about what I don’t know.”
—Brené Brown, Ph.D., #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dare to Lead
The bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals examines the critical art of rethinking: learning to question your opinions and open other people's minds, which can position you for excellence at work and wisdom in life
Intelligence is usually seen as the ability to think and learn, but in a rapidly changing world, there's another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn. In our daily lives, too many of us favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt. We listen to opinions that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard. We see disagreement as a threat to our egos, rather than an opportunity to learn. We surround ourselves with people who agree with our conclusions, when we should be gravitating toward those who challenge our thought process. The result is that our beliefs get brittle long before our bones. We think too much like preachers defending our sacred beliefs, prosecutors proving the other side wrong, and politicians campaigning for approval--and too little like scientists searching for truth. Intelligence is no cure, and it can even be a curse: being good at thinking can make us worse at rethinking. The brighter we are, the blinder to our own limitations we can become.
Organizational psychologist Adam Grant is an expert on opening other people's minds--and our own. As Wharton's top-rated professor and the bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take, he makes it one of his guiding principles to argue like he's right but listen like he's wrong. With bold ideas and rigorous evidence, he investigates how we can embrace the joy of being wrong, bring nuance to charged conversations, and build schools, workplaces, and communities of lifelong learners. You'll learn how an international debate champion wins arguments, a Black musician persuades white supremacists to abandon hate, a vaccine whisperer convinces concerned parents to immunize their children, and Adam has coaxed Yankees fans to root for the Red Sox. Think Again reveals that we don't have to believe everything we think or internalize everything we feel. It's an invitation to let go of views that are no longer serving us well and prize mental flexibility over foolish consistency. If knowledge is power, knowing what we don't know is wisdom.
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From the Publisher
"Renowned Wharton professor Grant spotlights one of the most important and impactful themes of our time: questioning one's own deeply held beliefs. Grant frames true knowledge as not knowing everything, but rather, listening as if we knew nothing at all in this intrepid book that is what our present moment requires."
—Newsweek, "Our 21 Favorite Books of 2021"
“In a world of aggressive certitude, Adam Grant’s latest book is a refreshing mandate for humble open-mindedness. Think Again offers a particularly powerful case for rethinking what we already know . . . that is not just a useful lesson; it could be a vital one.”
“In his latest book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, [Grant] is in vintage form.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Think Again delivers smart advice on unlearning assumptions and opening ourselves up to curiosity and humility.”
—The Washington Post
“Adam Grant’s latest book pushes us to reconsider, rethink, reevaluate and reimagine our beliefs, thoughts, and identities and get to the core of why we believe what we do, why it is so important to us, and why we are steadfast to hold on to those ideas and beliefs. . . . It teaches us to stop digging our heels and doubling down and consider other people’s points of view so that we may grow our own. Once again, Adam Grant succeeded in turning our very way of thinking upside down as he pushes us to examine the obvious.”
"This book blends psychology and self-help to prove how doubt, failing, and rethinking are instrumental to improving ourselves and our world. . . . In three sections, he outlines why we struggle to embrace feedback, how we can help others rethink effectively, and how our communities can shift to encourage rethinking."
“Grant is a born communicator—engaging and impossibly articulate. . . . Think Again . . . digs into the synaptic weirdness of why we think how we do and how we know what (we think) we know. The bottom line: In a world that’s constantly changing, we could all benefit from deliberately reassessing our cherished opinions.”
“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.”
—Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner in economics and #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thinking, Fast and Slow
“THIS. This is the right book for right now. Yes, learning requires focus. But, unlearning and relearning requires much more - it requires choosing courage over comfort. In Think Again, Adam Grant weaves together research and storytelling to help us build the intellectual and emotional muscle we need to stay curious enough about the world to actually change it. I’ve never felt so hopeful about what I don’t know.”
—Brené Brown, Ph.D., #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dare to Lead
“Adam Grant makes a captivating argument that if we have the humility and curiosity to reconsider our beliefs, we can always reinvent ourselves. Think Again helped me learn about how great thinkers and achievers don’t let expertise or experience stand in the way of being perpetual students.”
—M. Night Shyamalan, director of The Sixth Sense and Split
“Readers will find common ground in many of his compelling arguments (ideologies, sports rivals), making this a thought-provoking read.”
“[A] fast-paced account by a leading authority on the psychology of thinking.”
—Library Journal, (starred review)
“For anyone who wants to create a culture of learning and exploration at home, work or school, Grant distills complex research into a compelling case for why each of us should continually question old assumptions and embrace new ideas and perspectives.”
“It’s the idea of flexibility and how to achieve it that I found most compelling in Think Again. As I read the book, I couldn’t help but reflect on the times I’d clung to an opinion past its expiration date or imagine what I might have learned from a debate, had I asked a question instead of hurling a rebuttal.”
About the Author
- Publisher : Viking (Feb. 2 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1984878107
- ISBN-13 : 978-1984878106
- Item weight : 562 g
- Dimensions : 15.75 x 2.54 x 23.62 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in Canada on February 4, 2021
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There are some graphs that I found overly simplistic and a little contrived - but overall helpful.
On page 75 (hardcover edition) the author quotes excerpts of Ted Kaczynski’s (the Unabomber) manifesto. The author points out that you may not be “unsettled” if you read the entire document, then adds, “What’s disturbing is the level of conviction”. The author goes on to say, “If he had developed the capacity to discover that he was wrong, would he still have ended up doing something so wrong?”. But was Kaczynski wrong? Not entirely if you remove the level of conviction. There has been consequences from The Industrial Revolution; to some extent it has destabilized society; and it has inflicted greater damage on the natural world. If the author is attempting to arrive at a better truth by questioning what we know we know, then we need to be critical of the use of example so we don’t cherry pick ideas out of context. There is no doubt that Kaczynski was wrong to do what he did, but what he knew was not entirely wrong.
Other books I have read on this topic in order of copyright date:
On Being Certain, 2008, Robert A. Burton M.D.
Being Wrong, 2010, Kathryn Schulz
Willful Blindness, 2011, Margaret Heffernan
Thinking, Fast and Slow, 2011, Daniel Kahneman
Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me), 2015, Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson
The Memory Illusion, 2017, Dr. Julia Shaw
As an aside:
Quiet (The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking), 2012, Susan Cain
Adam wants up to change the way we approaching our thinking, not go into tribes or follow the status quo. We have fallen into what we have become because of what we're told how to think or follow or dreams. Question conventional thinking, ensure our organizations are psychologically safe, and don't follow best practices.
I guess you can say I stan Adam Grant, as the kids say. 😀
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on February 4, 2021
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on March 29, 2022
Top reviews from other countries
The simple tenet of the book is that rethinking our plans, answers and decisions is a good thing and a fixed mindset closes us to opportunities and potentially better alternatives.
My enduring feeling having read the book is discomfort. Not because I don’t like what Adam says, but because, through a smile and gritted teeth, I agree with most of his ideas, opinions and perspectives. The problem is, he made me question the decisions I’ve made in work over the years and my modus operandi.
Adam talks about the Dunning Kruger effect, which is something I’d come across during my doctoral research. I was a little starstruck that not only was this something AG thought fit to write about, but he actually knew these scholars! The Dunning Kruger effect basically describes the phenomenon where people who think they’re highly capable are usually quite the opposite. Check out pg 38
I liked his description of how to deal with an argument and hostility. Instead of going head to head, you can rethink your position and sidestep. What a great way of viewing confrontation: a dance, where you can choose to parry, thrust or tango. You can step out of the discussion and talk about the discussion. By talking about the discussion instead of being in the discussion, it gives both parties the opportunity to gain perspective, and change perspective if they so choose.
Adam also talks about complexifying a problem. When two parties are at opposite ends of the pole, setting out the complexities of the particular issue can help parties recognise that this either/or argument about which they’ve been at odd actually has a number of other arms - more like the spokes of a wheel, if you will. It helps to diffuse this idea of ‘my way or the highway’ and helps people rethink, reach agreement on some elements and compromise on others.
My main take home from the book is this idea that it’s good to question our own decisions. Adam gives lots of data and examples of where this has paid dividends and consistently yielded better results. If one day we’ve said something is red and tomorrow we’ve reflected on the data, rethought it and tomorrow say it’s pink, that’s ok.
One thing I’ve held on to over the years is my consistency of opinion. There are many occasions where colleagues have asked me something or other about an issue from a few days ago and I’ve found myself with no memory of it (at least not in the way they describe), and I’ve given them the same answer twice. I’ve always thought, phew!… what I lack in instant recall I make up for in consistency. But if you read Think Again, flexibility is valued over consistency. Getting it right is valued over getting it to match.
Henceforth I shall take a new approach and consider that a change of direction from north to north west is not about having gotten it wrong the first time, but about thinking again and coming up with a better idea. As Maya Angelou said, ‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.’
Good book. If you want to step out of your comfort zone and learn something about yourself and others, this book is worth a read. It felt like a long read, but the fact I read the whole thing in Adam’s voice may have had something to do with it (the joy of podcasts)!
Some of you may recall the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster on February 1, 2003, when the Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) disintegrated as it reentered the atmosphere, killing all seven crew members. Without going into the some of the detail technical details, some of the tiles on the outside of the shuttle fell off when it took off. But this had happened before and so people thought "so what? they have fallen off before, why does it matter?" In this case the result of the tiles falling off was fatal.
Adam also talks about the Dunning–Kruger effect which is a cognitive bias where people will overestimate their ability. Adam goes onto say "If we're certain that we know something, we have no reason to look for gaps and flaws in our knowledge - let alone fill or correct them.”
Adam also talks about research where rival American Football teams worked together to try and create a level of co-operation after generations of ingrained rivalry and aggression.
Certainly worth a read.
It also REMINDS me of certain biases, habits, and fallacies that one fall for, if not being made conscious from time to time.
Consider the following:
1. Do you want your opinions and knowledge to be made right, or wish (hence claim) that they are right?
2. Do you wear an advocate and politician or scientist hat when looking at a situation?
3. Being competent and being confident are dependent or independent variables? If there is a causal relation, than what is the direction?
4. Asking HOW helps reveal to the overconfident, his depth/shallowness of knowledge and need to know more?
5. Only the secure identity harness the benefit of doubt, Can you?
6. Is your opinion being proven wrong a question about hurt self-identity or joyous occasion of less wrong in future?
7. Is the team encountering relationship conflicts or tasks conflict?
8. Are you able to keep with the challengers because they care, and weed out insecure criticizers?
9. Are your disagreements leading to debate or dispute?
10. The more important the matter, do you rely on presenting more arguments in favour of your side, or few important ones, but explained at length?
11. To solicit feedback, do u use the rating scale to peg response and seek ways to improve the score?
12. Do u assume or ask what kind of evidence will allow others to open their position for a rethink?
13. Stereotypes are rarely questioned by giving counter-evidence but often by asking how do you know? And what would it take to verify?
14. Do u motivate someone to change or nudge someone to think of their own reason to change?
15. Do u base your motivational speech on assumptions, or actually listen through motivational interviewing?
16. Attending lectures are enjoyable to experience, but does that translate into effective learning? Would active learning help you get better grades?
17. How often do u present material that is open to iteration, refinement, and multiple feedbacks to come to better shape? Do u teach the patience to invite suggestions or embrace criticism?
18. How do u marry psychological safety with accountability for results?
19. Psychological safe teams make more errors or reveal more errors?
20. How can u differentiate perseverance vs stubbornness in your stand?
You may be sure of the response to some of them, but in the spirit of think again, do validate with your critiques or take the easy route of checking with Adam!
If you think rethinking is hard, you think rightly. Our inner Preacher, Prosecutor and Politician stand ready to trip us up: "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."
So what should we do instead? This book helps you find your inner Scientist — infinitely curious, moderately confident, perennially skeptical. Then "you define your identity in terms of values, not opinions", and actively "seek out information that goes against your views."
With expert storytelling and a breezy yet earnest tone, Adam guides you through the perils and rewards of rethinking at the individual, interpersonal, and collective level. In the process, you'll meet a cast of fascinating folks who practice expert-level rethinking. There's Daryl Davis, the Black musician with the hobby of converting KKK members into friends. There's the vaccine whisperer who gets legions of anti-vax parents to vaccinate their kids, and Erin McCarthy who has her students re-write old history textbooks. And the other stories I'm not even mentioning lest I spoil your fun in reading Adam's deft plot twists and big reveals.
I particularly appreciate the plenitude of wisdom in this book, much of it counterintuitive. For example, assembling a "challenge network" of our most thoughtful critics (instead of a support network of yes-men) seems like a useful exercise against overconfidence. And it's heartening that a little bit of impostor syndrome actually renders us more credible. And now that Adam has highlighted the efficacy of motivational interviewing, I will use it much more in my coaching & behavioral change practice.
In addition to being supremely well-structured and instructive, "Think Again" is delightfully quirky. I read 160-180 nonfiction books a year, and it's safe to say I haven't read anything like this. There are a ton of cartoons, real and faux diagrams, and funny-yet-true flowcharts to illustrate points and elicit chuckles. Adam often inserts italicized musings and asides smack in the middle of a paragraph. The epilogue, which is kind of bonkers, embodies rethinking in physical form. And -- mayonnaise.
This is an utterly original book on a topic that not only bears directly upon our success, but also our long-term happiness: "It takes humility to reconsider our past commitments, doubt to question our present decisions, and curiosity to reimagine our future plans. What we discover along the way can free us from the shackles of our familiar surroundings and our former selves. Rethinking liberates us to do more than update our knowledge and opinions—it’s a tool for leading a more fulfilling life." That sounds pretty important to me, so I'll be re-reading rethinking regularly. Get the book for yourself and the other stubborn people you love who think they can pronounce "Worcestershire."
-- Ali Binazir, M.D., M.Phil., Chief Happiness Engineer and author of The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman's Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible , the highest-rated dating book on Amazon, and Should I Go to Medical School?: An Irreverent Guide to the Pros and Cons of a Career in Medicine
On the content, no major complains. The books reads well and it is obviously written by an expert and passionate author. Yet it is too diverse, and in the end the point of the whole text gets somehow lost. This is a self-help treaty, a know-yourself better publication and a psichology volume - all in one and never fully settling for one of these fields. It is a good work, but the reader does not find a clear line to follow or fall for.
In conclusion: a worthy read of a few interesting (and helpful) ideas, marred by undefinition and, I'm afraid I must insist, an edition that seems to be made to impress the reader.