Knowing What You Don’t Know

So I’ve read a number of great books so far this year, and one of them has resonated so profoundly with me that I feel compelled to talk about it this week in the hopes that you decide to pick it up for yourselves…you won’t be disappointed. The book is called, Think Again, written by an organizational psychologist, speaker and writer named Adam Grant, and in my opinion, it might just be the most important book that you read all year. 

This book is the perfect book for all of us right now, because we live in a world where it is so easy to be blinded and blanketed by our own confirmation and implicit biases. Our social media platforms love to feed us what we want to hear and see, and that coupled with the entrenched belief that we know what we know, means we don’t always show up with an open mind when confronted with a difference of opinion. In fact, we are often so convinced that we are right in our views and opinions that we preach and prosecute without listening or questioning or considering at all…and that can be a dangerous roadblock in the search for truth, fact and common ground.

This book implores us to constantly think like a scientist, so we refuse to let our ideas become ideologies, and so we are daring enough to disagree with our own arguments. Grant says that, “thinking like a scientist involves more than just reacting with an open mind, it means being actively open minded. It requires searching for reasons why we might be wrong, and not for reasons why we might be right, and actively revising our views based on what we learn”. 

This book is a necessary reminder that it is essential that we all learn how to unlearn, and how to re-think, and to think again…rethinking is a skillset and a mindset, and something that I would argue we can all get better at. Grant talks about how our ways of thinking can often weigh us down, and we don’t bother to question them until it’s too late. Further to this, he discusses why it’s so hard for us to re-think…because it’s scary. Questioning ourselves not only makes the world more unpredictable, it also requires that the facts that we once thought were true may have changed, and what we once thought was right may now be wrong. 

Grant says that, “reconsidering something that we believe in deeply can threaten our identities, making it feel like we are losing a part of ourselves”, and “when a core belief of ours is questioned, we tend to shut down rather than open up”. I know that I am and have been guilty of this at times in my life, and reading this book it gave me the push that I needed to get in the habit of re-evaluating, reflecting, opening up, and really listening to the other side of an argument, especially when I know the other person is “wrong”. 

Anyway, do yourself a favor…no, do the world a favor and read this book. It’s a fantastic mix of rich storytelling and current research, and it will open up your mind to your own confirmation biases, as well as to the implicit biases that have sneakily become a part of who you are…like I said, you won’t be disappointed. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 

Quote of the Week…

The Curse of knowledge is that it closes our minds to what we don’t know. 

– Adam Grant

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