by Adam Grant
It’s essential to constantly check our thinking and be comfortable with revising/updating our hunches and opinions.
We need to learn to separate our values from our opinions.
Asking “what” and “how” questions are critical when we try to understand others’ perspectives.
I browsed through the Kindle app after I finished reading Caste and saw this book had great reviews. So I just dived in and chose to read it.
I recommend this book to others who want to learn more about learning. If we ever tell ourselves we have certain opinions we will never budge on, then we should read this book. I’d also recommend this book to educators at any level. The author often describes effective teaching techniques that can positively impact learning outcomes.
Through my work in software engineering, I am already familiar with the power of feedback. Yet this book has reinforced how feedback and thought revision are essential in all aspects of life, including family, friendships, and work.
I’ve always been the person to defend and protect my views and opinions. But now I understand that when I’m confronted with someone with contradictory views, I should invest effort into asking more questions. This can help me better understand how others think, how I can revise and refine my views, and how we can both come to new understandings and complex insights.
I need to think more like a scientist instead of a prosecutor, politician, or preacher. Rather than defending and lecturing on my opinions, I should always be humbly open to revision given convincing evidence.
This book is an invitation to let go of knowledge and opinions that are no longer serving you well, and to anchor your sense of self in flexibility rather than consistency.
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.
As we gain experience, we lose some of our humility. We take pride in making rapid progress, which promotes a false sense of mastery. That jump-starts an overconfidence cycle, preventing us from doubting what we know and being curious about what we don’t.
This book encouraged me to develop a sense of confident humility. This humility requires acknowledging that my views are limited, that I am capable of changing and revising my opinions, and that I am not always right. One of my favorite parts of the book is its investigation of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Overconfidence correlates with a lack of competence. Those who lack confidence can understand more and be more capable of growing in their skillset because under-confidence compels people to learn more. The next time I think I’m too comfortable in a field or feel like I have mastered something, I should ask myself: What am I missing?.
Grant also encouraged me to ask more questions. To understand someone with a view contradictory to mine, I need to ask open-ended questions. I loved his anecdote on the “Vaccine Whisperer”, a clinician who worked with families opposed to vaccines to understand their perspective and convince them to vaccinate their young ones. Through his description of motivational interviews, I learned that it’s critical to find common ground with an opposing view. This common ground fosters connection. More importantly, it’s always important to validate the other person and acknowledge that we should ask questions so that they can feel as if they have decided on our perspective instead of us forcing our views down someone else’s throat.
Finally, one of my favorite aspects of this book is how he details various teaching styles to encourage confident humility and a “scientist mindset” in youth. Multiple feedback rounds that encourage revising work are good tools for promoting a “work in progress” mindset. Rather than thinking of work and opinions as final, we should consider them more like clay sculptures. There is always some pinch, pad, or stroke to improve our work and thoughts.