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10 Life-Changing Books Recommended by Adam Grant for a Mindset Overhaul

Find out all about focus, disagreements, and human connection

Recommended by Adam Grant for a Mindset Overhaul

What do organizational psychologists dream about?

Conflict resolution.

Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist, professor, and entrepreneur. He is the pioneer of the ‘Give and Take’ theory which helps understand the behavior of different people in an organization.

Today, we are bringing you his book recommendations. These will help you reprogram your mind for the better.

Let’s go!

Recommended by Adam Grant for a Mindset Overhaul

Getting out of the cycle of hate.

Think of people who are culturally, religiously, or ethnically different from you. Is there any group you have a disdain for?

Maybe, you grew up listening to stories and news that painted them in a negative light. Or maybe your religious or ideological views demand that you have a strong dislike for them.

“There are lots of ways to rehumanize people, but one way is through great storytelling. It can be more powerful than any peace treaty.”

Amanda Ripley distinguishes between healthy conflict and high conflict. Healthy conflict is where we believe that no one has all the answers. High conflict is where the ‘good-versus-evil’ thought process takes hold.

Ripley tells us to find the ‘understory’ in any conflict.

The second step is to reduce the binary. To not see in black and white.

The author provides us with multiple examples. A divorcing couple, a neighborhood embroiled in disagreement and militant wars.

“Listening doesn’t mean agreeing.”

She tells us to use ‘looping’, a paraphrasing and feedback loop which helps the other person feel heard and understood.

It is similar to what Chris Voss says in his book ‘Never Split the Difference’.

The world would be a better place if everyone applied the advice given in this book.

Recommended by Adam Grant for a Mindset Overhaul

The untapped potential of conflicts.

I don’t understand the keyboard warriors.

What good will come out of you commenting filth on someone’s post online? Just stop and think!

Ian Leslie tells us to trade online hate-mongering for productive dialogues.

He gives us the example of the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright. Their father taught them to not only argue but to switch sides in the middle of an argument.

This allowed them to understand each other more.

“Open, passionate disagreement blows away the cobwebs that gather over even the most enduring relationships . . . It flushes out crucial information and insights that will otherwise lie inaccessible or dormant inside our brains.”

Leslie doesn’t want us to run away from conflict. Instead, he wants us to embrace it.

When we allow conflict to happen, we become stronger as individuals and teams. The couples who argue are more likely to stay together and have a stronger relationship, research shows.

I mean wow!

My mother always said fighting is bad. I think I’ll have to gift her this book.

Recommended by Adam Grant for a Mindset Overhaul

Is anything ours?

This book is written by two lawyers. It will make you look at whatever you own or buy in a whole new way.

The authors share an old saying.

“…whoever owns the soil, owns up to heaven and down to hell…”

Why does Disney not sue the makers of cheap Disney merchandise? It’s a question I have often wondered about, seeing Disney characters on bags and bottles in every nook and cranny of my country.

This book gave me the answer.

A famous Disney fan website made a product with gold sequins on Mickey ears. Disney didn’t sue her. They made an official version which sold out immediately.

For Disney, unwanted theft is a low-cost way to crowd-source product design.

The authors discuss many more situations like HBO password sharing and the airline seats conundrum.

In each story, there is a lot more that we have never thought about. For example, don’t be angry at the person who is reclining the airplane seat in front of you and hitting your knees. Be angry at the airline, who is selling the same space twice.

An interesting book that will make you see your possessions in a different light.

Recommended by Adam Grant for a Mindset Overhaul

What does it mean to be an adult anyway?

For each chapter of this book, Julie takes one experience from her life and expands on it. While doing so she teaches us a lot.

She calls being an adult ‘a state of mind’ that focuses on ‘doing’. As a result of doing, we figure out stuff and also what we like and dislike.

It is a journey of getting to know ourselves.

“Over time, from trial and error, and one experience after another, you start to become more familiar with yourself.”

As children, our parents do stuff for us like paying the bills or cooking dinner.

Adulthood is about ‘fending for yourself’.

The author recalls a moment from her life when she realized she had to fend for herself. It was not her graduation or her wedding. It was when all her belongings caught fire.

Each of us can recall a moment when we realized that this problem is ours to solve.

If you have had that experience, congratulations! You’re an adult.

Recommended by Adam Grant for a Mindset Overhaul

Less is more.

After cutting down on my social media, I can attest to the power of subtraction, which is the premise of this book.

Klotz wants us to downsize. He advises us to remove everything inessential from every walk of our lives.

“Whether in our bookshelves, in-boxes, or brains, intentional and regular subtraction of information is far better than the alternative.”

We shouldn’t just know what we have to do. We should also know what we should not be doing.

In reality, subtraction is hugely neglected. Koltz conducted various studies which proved that people are more prone to adding than subtracting.

For example, we like to add more ingredients in cooking. We also pack way more than required for a trip.

“The good news is that when we subtract information from our mental storerooms, our processing speeds up like a computer after closing a memory-intensive program that has been running in the background.”

Subtraction of mental load increases brain power and helps us focus.

To benefit from the power of subtraction, we have to be extremely mindful. This book will help you do just that.

Recommended by Adam Grant for a Mindset Overhaul

Why is a scout better than a soldier?

Julia Galef is a researcher and a podcaster.

Her book is an interesting one. She compares and contrasts two archetypes of humans. One is a ‘soldier’ and the other is a ‘scout’.

Galef tells us that the person with a soldier mindset is in ‘defensive combat’. He wants to affirm his worldview. If he is wrong, he thinks he has failed.

“The scout approach…doesn’t require protection from reality, because it’s rooted in truth.”

The scout’s mindset is of ‘map-making’. He wants to improve his map of the world. He is willing to change and learn.

All of us switch between these two mindsets. There are benefits to a soldier mindset. But… we shouldn’t sacrifice our sound judgment to get instant gratification from this approach.

“Social costs like looking weird or making a fool out of ourselves, feel a lot more significant than they actually are.”

One of our mistaken beliefs is that we overestimate our importance in other people’s lives. For example, when we embarrass ourselves in public. Those people are not thinking about us but we think they are.

This book will reset your mind for a clearer view of the world.

Recommended by Adam Grant for a Mindset Overhaul

Deception is good. Say what?

The religion that I claim to follow, is it true?

Honestly, I don’t know.

But following it is beneficial. I can talk to a being up there who cares for me. Rituals of my religion provide opportunities to bond and socialize.

The good values in the religious teachings help me be a better person.

“Many people hold false beliefs not because they are in love with falsehoods, or because they are stupid — as conventional wisdom might suggest — but because those beliefs help them hold their lives together in some way.”

This book touches on dilemmas like this. And to be honest, what the author says has made me feel better about my cognitive dissonance.

Our beliefs that might not be true, help us live good lives. We are not following them out of malice. It is our need.

Vedantam cites various resources to make his point.

“A wide array of research shows that people who are delusionally optimistic tend to outlive people with more realistic attitudes.”

I mean, I’d rather have a long life.

Pick this book up to find out how to live positively and long.

Recommended by Adam Grant for a Mindset Overhaul

The competition of bombing philosophies.

Gladwell is a Canadian-born journalist and author.

In this book, he compares and contrasts the approach of two US Army generals during World War 2.

“All war is absurd.”

The Bomber Mafia was led by General Haywood Hansell. This was a small group in the army that believed that casualties in war could be reduced by precision bombing during the daytime.

Another General by the name of Curtis LeMay had a counter opinion. He believed in bombing indiscriminately which meant a lot of civilian casualties.

“The more you invest in a set of beliefs — the greater the sacrifice you make in the service of that conviction — the more resistant you will be to evidence that suggests that you are mistaken.”

Eventually, Curtis LeMay replaced Hansell. As a result, the US bombed 70 Japanese cities and won the war.

The author discusses the reasons for the beliefs that both men held.

He reaches an interesting conclusion. Even though LeMay’s approach won temporarily, in the long run, the Bomber Mafia won.

The current technology allows us to target one room of a certain house which was exactly what Hansell was aiming for.

This book provides an interesting view of war and military technology.

Recommended by Adam Grant for a Mindset Overhaul

Come home to love.

Have you ever met someone with whom you just clicked?

In such a case, the friendship is usually imminent because you feel loved for who you are.

“To be at home is to be known. It is to be loved for who you are.”

The author Vivek Murthy makes us confront the loss of social connection in today’s world.

He says that there are three dimensions of social connection.

First is intimate, i.e. on a personal basis. The second is relational, i.e. friends and companions. The third is collective i.e. having a group of people with whom you share a purpose.

Humans need all three to thrive.

Murthy also gives us a beautiful definition of humanity.

“What is humanity, really, but a family of families?”

He says the world is in a ‘struggle between love and fear.’ Healthy relationships inspire love which gives rise to kindness, and compassion.

This book will make you understand why humans are called ‘social animals’.

Recommended by Adam Grant for a Mindset Overhaul

Is losing focus making us dumber?

Mankind is losing an important thing.

Concentration, says Johann Hari.

Why is that so?

There is an information overload. In the 80s, the information we consumed was equal to 40 newspapers every day. In 2004, it rose to about 174 newspapers. You can only imagine what the figure will be today.

“The truth is that you are living in a system that is pouring acid on your attention every day, and then you are being told to blame yourself and to fiddle with your own habits while the world’s attention burns.”

Hari says that when we spread more information, more info is distributed. As a result, everyone receives more of it.

This load is reducing our problem-solving skills and empathy.

Office workers only get an hour with interruption. CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are getting merely 28 uninterrupted minutes.

“If you see the world through fragments, your empathy often doesn’t kick in, in the way that it does when you engage with something in a sustained, focused way.”

The writer theorizes that due to a breakdown of problem-solving skills, we are not able to respond to issues like climate change.

This book will teach you all about the importance of focus for the human mind.


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If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my book lists on my blog-

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