Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant

Part IV – Conclusion

11. Escaping Tunnel Vision: Reconsidering Our Best-Laid Career and Life Plans

  • We start with the story of Adam’s brother who spent years becoming a neurosurgeon only to regret not listening to doubts he had along the way. The tendency to stick with a plan in spite of it not going as expected is called escaltion of commitment. Sunk costs are a factor, but the most important causes are psychological. It’s a factor in preventable failures. It can be fueled by grit and the combination of passion and perseverance. Asking kids what they want to be when they grow up is a bad idea as growing up isn’t finite and they will likely have many different jobs during their adult life. Better to teach that work is what you do rather than who you are.
  • Identity foreclosure happens when you lock in your current identity and fail to rethink it from time to time. It’s the opposite of an identity crisis where you know your identity needs to change. The former covers up the latter but fails to cure it. This applies to jobs and relationships outside the workplace. Don’t expect problems to go away just because you change your location as you can’t get away from yourself. You need to make changes in what you are doing. You can also consider recrafting your job rather than leaving it.

Epilogue

  • Like your thinking process, Adam regrets that this book isn’t open-ended. Everyone has the capacity to think again, we just don’t use it often enough as we don’t think like scientists enough. We also need to be reminded that rethinking applies to every line of work and all aspects of life. In times of crisis, we also need leaders who accept uncertainty, acknowledge mistakes, learn from others, and rethink plans. Adam finds that FDR’s trial-and-error method for formulating policy helped get the US through the great depression. Unfortunately, politicians who do change their minds are criticized as flip-floppers. We can all improve at thinking again so put on your scientist goggles a little more often.
  • The book ends with Adam’s top thirty practical takeaways which serve as a summary of this book.

Adam Grant

  • Adam is an organizational psychologist at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he has been a top-ranked professor for seven years. His books have sold millions of copies, his TED Talks have been viewed over 25 million times, and his podcast WorkLife with Adam Grant has topped the charts. His B.A. is from Harvard and his Ph.D. is from the University of Michigan. He has received awards from many high-profile organizations and is recognized by Forbes as a top influential management thinker. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and three children. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamMGrant, email him at adam@adamgrant.net, and subscribe to his newsletter at adamgrant.net.
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