A great way to start this episode about positively influencing others is to share a quote from the author of the highly acclaimed book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey, who once said, “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple, also said, “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”
There is diversity in society because of the differences among people. Sometimes, it is not only what the eyes can see, like riches and physical appearances, but also those that you cannot see, like beliefs, personalities, and values. The main idea of diversity encompasses utmost respect and acceptance that every person is unique. A person’s value has nothing to do with wealth, possessions, and intelligence. You are valuable because you are unique, and you are you.
Our differences define us, allowing us to contribute to society and make an impact on others. Today, my special guest will talk more about diversity. I’m thrilled to introduce to you Adam Grant.
“The advice that we normally get is to practice what we preach. I think that’s backward.” – Adam Grant
In this episode, Adam and I dive in and discuss the need to create rules for disagreements and frame conversation, why we need to embrace people who have different beliefs than us, the importance of finding and developing our core values at any stage of life, why you need a culture in your business, and so much more. This is truly a mind-blowing episode of the School of Greatness. Let the class begin!
Adam is an organizational psychologist and a top-rated professor at the Wharton University of Pennsylvania. He is a host of a chart-topping TED original podcast called WorkLife, which has more than 20 million views. Adam was also voted the audience’s favorite speaker at The Nantucket Project and received a standing ovation in 2016. His clients in consulting and speaking engagements are the likes of the NBA, Bridgewater, the Gates Foundation, and Google.
Adam Grant is an author of four New York Times bestselling books that include Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, which is available over at Amazon. The other bestselling books are Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, and Power Moves: Lessons from Davos. All four of Adam’s books have sold millions of copies worldwide. His most recent book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, was recently released and is expected to top the charts.
The World Economic Forum honored Adam Grant as a Young Global Leader. He was recognized as one of the world’s 10 most influential management thinkers, featured in Fortune’s 40 under 40, and highlighted on Oprah’s Super Soul 100.
I am happy to have Adam Grant once again in the house. I can’t believe this is his second time on the show. But today, he will show you how to diversify your identity, increase your mental flexibility, and influence others in a positive way. Let’s get into it!
To get started, I asked Adam Grant an important question. “Why is it so hard for people to let go of beliefs that are no longer supporting them in their happiness and in their life?” Adam Grant responded that such a question is complicated, and so it deserves a complicated answer as well.
“The problem that a lot of us run into is we end up thinking too often like preachers or prosecutors. … And I think those ways of thinking and talking are familiar and comfortable for a lot of us because they make the world more predictable. They make us feel more certain. … They also give us a sense of belonging with a tribe that either share the values that we’re preaching or the views that we’re attached to. … And I think if you’re convinced that you’ve already found the truth and your job is basically to proselytize that to everyone else, or if you’re only here to try to win an argument and destroy the other side’s case, you’re not going to change your mind a whole lot.” – Adam Grant
The most common reason why people argue is that both parties want to win an argument. They are not open-minded to the views of the other party and truly listening to different perspectives. Should we still have conversations with people who are close-minded? For Adam, arguing to win will only put you on the losing end. But if you are going to have a conversation to ask questions and learn, then you might open the minds of the other parties in the discussion and discover something that will allow you and others to have a more productive conversation.
Arguments are not only common in the workplace but also in social media. When we see other people opposing our views through thumbs down signs, dislikes, or sad emojis, most of us will tend to unfollow and block those people or keep our distance from them. We usually want to be surrounded only by people who agree with us and share our thought processes and opinions. But Adam Grant has a different perspective:
“I think when it comes to my own learning and the kind of communities that I want to be a part of — I don’t want to surround myself with people who share all my opinions. That’s extremely boring! … When I choose to follow someone on social media, I don’t necessarily care what their conclusions are. I want to know what’s the quality of their thought process. So, … if they’re rigorous about the logic that they use and the evidence that they pay attention to, then that’s somebody I want to learn from. … That’s how I evolved my own thinking. …. When you go to school, you don’t go to affirm what you already believe. You show up to evolve what you believe. And that’s one of the things I love about the School of Greatness.” – Adam Grant
What a good point from Adam! If you want to learn, you have to surround yourself not with people who always agree with you but those who constantly challenge you. That’s how you learn.
I particularly liked the part where Adam said that he loves the School of Greatness because when you go to a school, you show up to evolve what you believe and not affirm what you already believe. While most people choose to win an argument, embrace the people who have different beliefs than you. Be open to the conversation and evolve.
As we dug deeper into this idea of evolving in a conversation, I was curious about why we feel the need to influence others all the time. We usually try to influence our partners in relationships, our bosses at work, our friends, and our colleagues. Too often, we try to influence other people and persuade. I asked Adam what his thoughts are on how we can be better at influencing without bullying others.
“I think that the benevolent answer is we want to help people.” – Adam Grant
Influencing is helping other people. If there’s a drink like a Kool-Aid that you find delicious, you would serve the same drinks to your visitors so they will enjoy the taste. If you learn something valuable, you will share your learnings to enlighten others, influencing them in a positive way. You would feel that you are doing them a service. But on the opposite side of the coin, there can be a different motive.
“There’s a less noble set of motives here, which is if other people hold beliefs that are different from my core views, then that’s a threat to my identity. And it’s pretty uncomfortable to live in a world where the way that I define myself, … the opinions that I hold dear, might be incorrect because then I might be making a lot of mistakes. … I might have to second guess a large number of my choices in life. … So, I think what a lot of people do is they avoid cognitive dissonance. … The harder we try to persuade someone else, the more we reinforce our own beliefs, … We’re not convincing them as we are selling ourselves. And I think that feeling of certainty, of clarity, it’s intoxicating. – Adam Grant
A genuine motive to help other people, provide enlightenment, and share with them is a form of positively influencing others. But if you are influencing to persuade them to accept your core beliefs, you are negatively influencing others while bullying at the same time. So if you want to be better at influencing without bullying, you must first possess the core value of desiring to help others.
Most of the time, people are defined by the opinions of others and by beliefs taught during the early stages in life by people such as parents and teachers. Sometimes we were taught to believe in something, which later on, as we grow older, turned out to be wrong. It can be a challenge to support and embrace people who have taught us something throughout our lives without making them feel wrong when we find a different idea or belief that might work better for us.
But for Adam Grant, the opinions of other people should not define our identity:
“I shouldn’t define my identity by my opinions. I should define my identity by my values.” – Adam Grant
Well said! Our values should define our identity — not the opinions of others. The teachings we received at school and from our parents should only serve as stepping stones to the formation of our values. These values will help shape our goals and principles in life and define our identity, but we still have control over what we truly believe as adults.
“I’ve got to let go of these opinions about what’s good and bad as part of who I am. … I’ve got some core values. I value generosity, excellence, integrity, and freedom. Those are my top four. And I’m completely open to the best ways to achieve that.” – Adam Grant
The value of excellence — Adam has excelled in many aspects of his career. The value of freedom — he is now financially free and enjoying freedom in multiple facets of life. The value of generosity can be seen by the number of people Adam has impacted in their lives. And the value of integrity reflects his genuine motives of positively influencing others. How about you? What core values have shaped over the years through your experiences and dealings with others? Did you let other people’s opinions define your identity, or did your core values define you?
The idea of identity always fascinates me. So I asked Adam Grant what our identity does to us that holds us back and how it helps us move forward.
“The evidence in psychology is that there’s a little bit of a resilience advantage to having more identities. … There’s value in having multiple identities. … There’s good evidence that multiple identities can actually help with creativity, ” – Adam Grant
While most people associate multiple identities with a disorder, having multiple identities is actually a good thing with many advantages. It helps us become resilient in many ways. If you get injured in a game of handball and can’t play anymore, it can be devastating to have a single identity limited only to handball. Your single identity will hold you back because of the incident, and you can end up in depression.
But if you have multiple identities, you can easily move forward as you move on with another identity. It’s no wonder successful people can quickly move forward every time they fall. Their multiple identities have made them resilient. At this point, I understand why Adam Grant has multiple identities — he is a bestselling author, he is a top-rated professor, and as a good leader, he is a top influencer.
Having multiple identities is very important, especially in these trying times where many people have lost their jobs. There is a need to diversify our identities to become resilient during unexpected turns of events like a pandemic, accidents, and global financial crisis.
“If you don’t have all your eggs in one basket, then you can always fall back on some other things that you care about that are interesting and important to you.” – Adam Grant
Identity formation is a constant evolution as we continue to diversify and search for new identities. But how often should we be thinking about our identity, and how is it supporting our goals and happiness in life? Sometimes, we might find a new identity which later on turns out not to support our life’s goal.
“There is what psychologists call ‘identity foreclosure.’ It’s where you get excited about who you are, or an image of who you want to be, and you lock-in, and you end up with a lot of tunnel vision. … We see this happen all the time … students who are most certain about what they want to do with their lives at 20 have the most existential uncertainty at 30 because they never really explored any alternatives. … And two [or] three years later, they realized, ‘This is not for me.’ … So I think that to avoid identity foreclosure, we need to be open to these kinds of experiments that we’ve been talking about.” – Adam Grant
Identity foreclosure is a self-identity discovery where a person has an identity but has not yet explored other options or ideas. In most cases, this is the stage where individuals usually adopt the qualities and traits of parents, peers, and friends. To avoid identity foreclosure, you have to be open to new perspectives, new values, and new goals. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and don’t be afraid to be different because your uniqueness helps define your new identity.
As you evolve to form new identities, it is also important to do away with old identities that no longer support your happiness and goals. The old identities we took, shaped by our parents and peers, have already served their purpose in helping us during our growing stage in life. But as we mature, we have to take on new identities that truly define our happiness.
This episode is packed with plenty of wisdom from one of the most influential persons on the planet. So don’t miss out on the full episode of this interview. You can positively influence others by sharing this episode with someone you think who needs to hear it, which is available on Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Apple Podcasts. Also, follow Adam on social media and join his more than 3 million followers on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Friends, join me on another episode with Adam Grant at the School of Greatness, as he talks about Give and Take: The Revolutionary Path to Success. If you want to become more successful in life, give your time and take this revolutionary path.