I am currently reading Adam Grant’s new book Think Again. It is fascinating. I am re thinking a lot.
It has helped me answer the question I asked in a previous post – I am curious, if honesty is the most valued leadership trait why did 75 million Americans vote for Trump? in which I suggested Australians are equally happy to gloss over the failings of our politicians in this country
In “Think Again” – Grant shares the story of a black musician who estimates that he has helped upwards of two hundred white supremacists rethink their beliefs and leave the KKK and other neo-Nazi groups. It began with a conversation with a white supremist who heard him play and he asked him a HOW question ( in preference to a WHY question )
“How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?”
Here is a an extract from the book
It’s one thing to love your team. It’s another to hate your rivals so much that you’d consider rooting for terrorists to crush them. If you despise a particular sports team—and its fans—you’re harbouring some strong opinions about a group of people. Those beliefs are stereotypes, and they often spill over into prejudice. The stronger your attitudes become, the less likely you are to rethink them.
Rivalries aren’t unique to sports. A rivalry exists whenever we reserve special animosity for a group we see as competing with us for resources or threatening our identities. In business, the rivalry between footwear companies Puma and Adidas was so intense that for generations, families self-segregated based on their allegiance to the brands—they went to different bakeries, pubs, and shops, and even refused to date people who worked for the rival firm.
In politics, you probably know some Democrats who view Republicans as being greedy, ignorant, heartless cretins, and some Republicans who regard Democrats as lazy, dishonest, hypersensitive snowflakes. As stereotypes stick and prejudice deepens, we don’t just identify with our own group; we dis-identify with our adversaries, coming to define who we are by what we’re not. We don’t just preach virtues of our side; we find self-worth in prosecuting the vices of our rivals.
When people hold prejudice toward a rival group, they’re often willing to do whatever it takes to elevate their own group and undermine their rivals—even if it means doing harm or doing wrong. We see people cross those lines regularly in sports rivalries. “Diminishing Prejudice by Destabilizing Stereotypes” from Think Again by Adam Grant
You can tell I am Australian because I couldn’t find a graphic about Australian stereotypes that didn’t make me cringe
Think Again reveals that we don’t have to believe everything we think or internalize everything we feel. It’s an invitation to let go of views that are no longer serving us well and prize mental flexibility, humility, and curiosity over foolish consistency. If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.
Momoko Nojo has shown us we can all #BeTheChange