You know those books where, one chapter in, you are telling everyone you know, “You gotta read this!” Or, you stand in your kitchen reading paragraph after paragraph out loud to your partner while they are cooking dinner, because what you reading is so revelatory?
“…so the CEO refuses to go with a touchscreen … and you know what he made? The Blackberry! Hahahahahahaha!”
Adam Grant’s “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know” is one of those books.
Grant’s bestseller, “Originals,” has been on my TBR list forever, but I had heard good things about “Think Again” and didn’t want it gathering dust in the back of the queue. I bought it, I cracked it open, and was instantly taken in by Grant’s storytelling capability — the very first one of many in the prologue where he describes how one forest firefighter abandoned all he knew to be true about escaping a blaze and instead, in what looked like a moment of insanity, I’m sure, applied basic gut instinct to save his life. Most of those that thought he was nuts? They died in the fire.
Over the course of about 250 pages, Grant invites the reader to consider how to reconsider — a skill that while useful at work (and indeed, where likely a lot of this skill practice will take place), one that can also be applied in our personal lives as well.
He breaks it down into four different parts, beginning with how to tango with the devil residing in our own minds. That voice in your head that insists he or she is right and everyone else is wrong. Once a person can embrace something called confident humility, it’s time to take your new act on the road, and in Part Two, Grant demonstrates the value of rethinking in interpersonal situations, where some of the greatest hits in conflict resolution come into play in helping others rethink their most-deeply held beliefs. (I suppose if he can get Yankees fans to understand that Boston Red Sox fans are not the earthly personification of the antichrist, then I suppose this Big Ten girl can, someday, stop calling Nick Saban “Lucifer.”)
Part Three homes in on the practice of preaching and teaching rethinking to children so that they can embrace and employ those tactics well into adulthood, and Part Four, the conclusion, encourages people not to shy away from the occasional gut check in our own personal lifeplans, where rethinking can be genuinely terrifying. (“Maybe I shouldn’t have gone to med school. Maybe getting married was a mistake. But I don’t want to be a biologist. I want to be a baker.”)
Like so many of the “life lessons” books I have read, “Think Again” is likely one I’ll have to pick up from time to time to remind myself to how to check what I think I know, consider others’ viewpoints and embrace a challenge network in order to do a better job. But I will do so gladly — Grant is a masterful storyteller (as already mentioned above), the pacing is perfect and he engages with the reader seamlessly. Nothing he espouses felt forced or contrived — much like he talks about in the book, connecting with people on a genuine, empathetic level is one of the best ways to open minds, and with the way Grant writes, he succeeds at this almost without you knowing it. (I say this because it literally is just now at this very moment, that I put two and two together, thinking “He’s so empathetic” immediately followed with “Woah, that was so sneaky in the best way.”)
If you like the occasional read to get your brain juice flowing and have you excited about talking with your coworkers, your kids or even your spouse while making dinner, “Think Again” is an excellent option — I would absolutely recommend this book and, maybe if I do this right, can become a better thinker.