Hello friends. This post is a collection of quotes from the book - Think Again by Adam Grant. Think Again 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.
We’re mental misers: we often prefer the ease of hanging on to old views over the difficulty of grappling with new ones.
Even our great governing document, the U.S. Constitution, allows for amendments. What if we were quicker to make amendments to our own mental constitutions?
A hallmark of wisdom is knowing when it’s time to abandon some of your most treasured tools - and some of the most cherished parts of your identity.
We live in a rapidly changing world, where we need to spend as much time rethinking as we do thinking.
We need to question our beliefs more readily than ever before. This is not an easy task. As we sit with our beliefs, they tend to become more extreme and more entrenched. I’m still struggling to accept that Pluto may not be a planet.
Vintage records, classic cars, and antique clocks might be valuable collectibles, but outdated facts are mental fossils that are best abandoned.
The brighter you are, the harder it can be to see your own limitations. Being good at thinking can make you worse at rethinking.
Our convictions can lock us in prisons of our own making. The solution is not to decelerate our thinking - it’s to accelerate our rethinking.
In driver’s training we were taught to identify our visual blind spots and eliminate them with the help of mirrors and sensors. In life, since our minds don’t come equipped with those tools, we need to learn to recognize our cognitive blind spots and revise our thinking accordingly.
Confidence is just as often the result of progress as the cause of it. We don’t have to wait for our confidence to rise to achieve challenging goals. We can build it through achieving challenging goals.
Arrogance leaves us blind to our weaknesses. Humility is a reflective lens: it helps us see them clearly. Confident humility is a corrective lens: it enables us to overcome those weaknesses.
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.
It’s a sign of wisdom to avoid believing every thought that enters your mind. It’s a mark of emotional intelligence to avoid internalizing every feeling that enters your heart.
If we can’t learn to find occasional glee in discovering we were wrong, it will be awfully hard to get anything right.
Every time we encounter new information, we have a choice. We can attach our opinions to our identities and stand our ground in the stubbornness of preaching and prosecuting. Or we can operate more like scientists, defining ourselves as people committed to the pursuit of truth - even if it means proving our own views wrong.
We learn more from people who challenge our thought process than those who affirm our conclusions. Strong leaders engage their critics and make themselves stronger. Weak leaders silence their critics and make themselves weaker.
Although I’m terrified of hurting other people’s feelings, when it comes to challenging their thoughts, I have no fear. In fact, when I argue with someone, it’s not a display of disrespect - it’s a sign of respect. It means I value their views enough to contest them. If their opinions didn’t matter to me, I wouldn’t bother. I know I have chemistry with someone when we find it delightful to prove each other wrong.
Changing your mind doesn’t make you a flip-flopper or a hypocrite. It means you were open to learning.
When we’re trying to persuade people, we frequently take an adversarial approach. Instead of opening their minds, we effectively shut them down or rile them up. They play defense by putting up a shield, play offense by preaching their perspectives and prosecuting ours, or play politics by telling us what we want to hear without changing what they actually think.
A good debate is not a war. It’s not even a tug-of-war, where you can drag your opponent to your side if you pull hard enough on the rope. It’s more like a dance that hasn’t been choreographed, negotiated with a partner who has a different set of steps in mind. If you try too hard to lead, your partner will resist. If you can adapt your moves to hers, and get her to do the same, you’re more likely to end up in rhythm.
Many of our beliefs are cultural truisms: widely shared, but rarely questioned. If we take a closer look at them, we often discover that they rest on shaky foundations.
Stereotypes don’t have the structural integrity of a carefully built ship. They’re more like a tower in the game of Jenga - teetering on a small number of blocks, with some key supports missing. To knock it over, sometimes all we need to do is give it a poke. The hope is that people will rise to the occasion and build new beliefs on a stronger foundation.
At the turn of the last century, the great hope for the internet was that it would expose us to different views. But as the web welcomed a few billion fresh voices and vantage points into the conversation, it also became a weapon of misinformation and disinformation.
In a productive conversation, people treat their feelings as a rough draft. Like art, emotions are works in progress. It rarely serves us well to frame our first sketch. As we gain perspective, we revise what we feel. Sometimes we even start over from scratch.
Good teachers introduce new thoughts, but great teachers introduce new ways of thinking.
Focusing on results might be good for short-term performance, but it can be an obstacle to long-term learning.
We all have notions of who we want to be and how we hope to lead our lives. They’re not limited to careers; from an early age, we develop ideas about where we’ll live, which school we’ll attend, what kind of person we’ll marry, and how many kids we’ll have. These images can inspire us to set bolder goals and guide us toward a path to achieve them. The danger of these plans is that they can give us tunnel vision, blinding us to alternative possibilities. We don’t know how time and circumstances will change what we want and even who we want to be, and locking our life GPS onto a single target can give us the right directions to the wrong destination.
Choosing a career isn’t like finding a soul mate. It’s possible that your ideal job hasn’t even been invented yet. Old industries are changing, and new industries are emerging faster than ever before: it wasn’t that long ago that Google, Uber, and Instagram didn’t exist. Your future self doesn’t exist right now, either, and your interests might change over time.
When we’re searching for happiness, we get too busy evaluating life to actually experience it. Instead of savoring our moments of joy, we ruminate about why our lives aren’t more joyful.
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.