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

Rethinking beliefs is the name of the game in Adam Grant's “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know.”

When one interacts with others who question their beliefs, Grant says, one of three modes can kick in. There's preacher mode, in which one believes some of one’s most sacred beliefs are being challenged; prosecutor mode, when you try to point out flaws in another's argument; or politician mode, when the speaker is trying to win over an audience. However, these are all defenses that don't aid in more profound thought. And they can also prevent us from rethinking, which "liberates us" and is a "tool for leading a more fulfilling life."

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The book is split into three distinct sections: how someone can open their mind, encourage others to think about something more than once, and craft communities of those who want to learn through life. Grant uses contemporary issues in American politics as a critical example of how many were forced to rethink their previously held beliefs. After the protests around the George Floyd murder, Grant says, it took spectators intentionally questioning what they believed about the system to realize its potential flaws.

"Many of those who had long been unwilling or unable to acknowledge it quickly came to grips with the harsh reality of systemic racism that still pervades America," Grant writes. "Many of those who had long been silent came to reckon with their responsibility to act against prejudice."

The author eventually offers two main strategies for rethinking. First, there's counterfactual thinking, which asks readers to imagine how the circumstances of their lives could be different and try to imagine those options. Second, there are actions for impact, which involve developing the habit of rethinking and inviting others to question one's thinking. This only scratches the surface of Grant's deep and thought-provoking work which takes rethinking and makes it into an actionable task for anyone looking to overcome their weaknesses and jumpstart their expertise.