Have you ever lost your train of thought in the middle of a story or explanation?

Sometimes referred to as a “brain fart,” it’s like your brain was recalibrating, and the world, as you thought you knew it, disappeared. If you’re lucky, someone was actively listening, and helped you regain your thought path.

In Adam Grant’s latest book, Think Again, he argues that in a rapidly changing world of knowledge, we need to rethink as much as we think.

“What was I saying (i.e. thinking)?” might be a good time to try, “On second thought…”

The differences between stubborn, pig-headed and obstinate or open-minded, thoughtful and reflective depend on perspective.

“I’m not obstinate, I’m right!”

“I’m pretty open-minded, and I can see that idea just doesn’t make sense.”

Grant categorizes three mindsets we use to protect our beliefs: preacher, prosecutor, and politician. The preacher delivers sermons, the prosecutor seeks flaws in others’ arguments, and the politician seeks to win over the audience.

Rethinkers take on the mindset of a scientist. Beliefs are better treated as hunches or hypotheses that need to be tested.

If we can separate beliefs from our identity, we are in a better position to change our beliefs without feeling a threat to our identity.

I hear the prosecutor voice responding, “I am who I am because of the beliefs that I hold. If you make me rethink any of my beliefs, I won’t be the same person anymore.”

To which the scientist responds, “I wonder if that is a limiting belief? Let’s examine that.”

Conclusion: rather than identify yourself by opinions, use values.

Adam argues we ground ourselves, recognize we mess up, and embrace confident humility. We acknowledge doubt, uncertainty, and not knowing do not prevent us from being capable of rethinking, and seeking better solutions, and right problems.

So if your brain momentarily shuts down on you, no worries. The reset may be your brain nudging you to slow down, reconsider, and think again.

professional learner, university instructor

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