Hi there,

What’s the Story?

I’m back in Europe this week for a few days before venturing to continent number three this year. Excited to be back on the road again.

In this week’s episode of Changing Minds, I explore the work of Adam Grant and investigate two of his books, Give and Take and Originals. Check out the episode here: video.owenfitzpatrick.com. Part two is coming in a couple of weeks.

In the newsletter this week, I talk about all of Adam’s work and the most important insights I have gained from it, including one of my favorite books ever Think Again.



Lessons from Adam Grant

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes 43 seconds

What defines a successful and fulfilling life?

Is it the ability to give selflessly, the power to innovate and stand out, or the capacity to rethink and grow continuously?

In this week’s newsletter, we dive into the work of Adam Grant, exploring his insights on generosity and originality from Give and Take and Originals, as well as his perspectives on rethinking and hidden potential from Think Again and Hidden Potential.

We’ll uncover the secrets behind being a successful giver, the essence of originality, and the importance of rethinking and unlocking hidden potential.

Inside these four ideas lie tremendous power for us to improve ourselves and our lives.

Who is Adam Grant?

Adam Grant is a renowned organizational psychologist, Wharton’s top-rated professor for seven consecutive years, and a bestselling author.

His books have been translated into over 35 languages and have garnered acclaim from prestigious institutions like the New York Times, Amazon, and Harvard Business Review.

His TED talks on original thinkers and givers have been viewed by millions, making him a significant figure in the field of psychology.


The Power of Generosity: Insights from Give and Take

In Give and Take, Grant explores the dynamics of generosity and categorizes people into givers, takers, and matchers.

Givers are those who help others without expecting anything in return.

Takers prioritize their self-interest.

Matchers strive for a balance between giving and receiving.

Who Succeeds?

One of the surprising findings in Grant’s research is that givers can be both the most and the least successful people. The difference lies in their approach.

Successful givers build expansive networks, create goodwill, and gain access to valuable information and diverse skills. They excel because they prioritize the group’s success and foster collaborative environments. Givers that don’t do so well do it for the wrong reasons. They do it out of a desire to be liked as opposed to a desire to add value.

Building Effective Networks

Grant emphasizes the importance of building networks with both strong and weak ties. While strong ties are close relationships, weak ties are acquaintances that can often provide unique opportunities and insights. Givers excel at creating broad, helpful networks that enhance their ability to succeed.

Detecting Takers

Recognizing takers can be challenging as they can fake generosity. Clues include their communication style, excessive self-promotion, and a lack of collaborative spirit. By focusing on how people communicate and their underlying intentions, you can identify genuine givers and protect yourself from takers.

Strategies for Successful Giving

Here are some key suggestions Grant offers:

Be selective: Choose whom to give your time and resources to. Focus on high-impact opportunities.

Balance self-interest and other-interest: Successful givers have high self-interest as well as a strong focus on others. This balance prevents burnout and ensures sustainable generosity.

Showcase results: Make the impact of your giving visible to maintain motivation and receive feedback.

Chunk your giving: Combine acts of giving into specific times or days to create a sense of accomplishment.

Avoid the sunk cost fallacy: Don’t continue giving just because you’ve already invested a lot. Evaluate each situation independently.

Embracing Originality: Lessons from Originals

In Originals, Grant discusses the importance of standing out and being creative. Originality involves questioning the status quo, generating numerous ideas, and being willing to take risks.

The Value of Quantity

Grant highlights that generating a large number of ideas is crucial for innovation. Historical figures like Edison and Mozart produced vast quantities of work, which increased their chances of creating masterpieces.

Broadening Experiences

Exposing yourself to different fields and experiences can inspire creativity. It’s essential to question existing practices and seek ways to improve them.

Balancing Radicalism

Grant introduces the concept of the Goldilocks zone in radicalism—being radical enough to stand out but conservative enough to avoid alienating mainstream audiences. Finding this balance is key to effective innovation.

The Role of Procrastination

Procrastination, when used strategically, can enhance creativity by allowing more time for idea incubation. It’s not about delaying for the sake of it but using the time to refine and develop ideas.

Strategies for Fostering Originality

Grant has several suggestions to become more original:

Generate lots of ideas: Focus on quantity to increase the likelihood of quality.

Seek diverse experiences: Explore different fields to gain new perspectives.

Engage with disagreeable people: They can provide critical feedback and challenge your ideas, making them stronger.

Use powerless communication: Show vulnerability and ask questions to build trust and influence.

Incorporate defensive pessimism: Visualize potential problems to better prepare for them.

The Importance of Rethinking: Insights from Think Again

Grant emphasizes the importance of rethinking and unlearning outdated beliefs.

“The more we learn, the more we need to question.”

Grant encourages intellectual humility to acknowledge and rectify mistakes. He argues that doubt can lead to better decisions and innovations.

Grant does this by exploring how doubt can be a stimulus to growth and help you to get smarter and more creative.

The real trick is to balance confidence with humility to be an effective leader. It should not be an either/or.

Scientific Thinking

There are three main ways that people act when discussing topics:

  1. Preachers speak about why they are right.
  2. Prosecutors speak about why you are wrong.
  3. Politicians try to keep everyone happy.

Instead, Grant promotes the idea of thinking like a scientist, constantly questioning and testing assumptions.

Being effective at rethinking has huge implications for your personal and professional life.

There also is huge potential in its ability to transform the educational system not to mention boosting the emotional intelligence of those who practice it.

So often, the mistakes we make are a result of overconfidence. Thinking again is a way of reducing this tendency.

Grant also suggests that this skill set will be one of the most critical skills that we will all need in the future.

How to Think Again

The following suggestions can help you to be better at rethinking:

Embrace being wrong. When you admit that you are wrong you’re demonstrating a sign of strength and growth.

Challenge the status quo and be open to new ideas.

Use feedback loops: Leverage the power of feedback in personal and professional growth.

Escape echo chambers. Echo chambers are places you go that only serve to reinforce your beliefs. They trap you by convincing you of what you want to hear. It’s important to escape your echo chambers and diversify your information sources.

Update your beliefs. Focus on the need to update your beliefs based on new evidence.

Promote a culture of learning and rethinking in organizations.

Acknowledge the complexity and fluidity of knowledge.

When arguing with others, focus on understanding their perspective rather than winning.

Enhance your cognitive flexibility. Get used to looking at situations from multiple perspectives. This is a key to adaptability.

Use constructive conflict in innovation. Get comfortable debating in a supportive way with your team to find the best solutions.

These ideas are extremely useful to start thinking smarter.

Unlocking Hidden Potential: Lessons from Hidden Potential

In Hidden Potential, Grant emphasizes the importance of a growth mindset in achieving potential. He argues that potential is something we discover through the work we put in.

Through a massive amount of evidence-based insights and suggestions, Grant walks through the science of achievement.

Here are some of the key insights he shares:

Focus on the role of deliberate practice in skill development. For true success, it’s crucial to leverage the value of incremental progress over time.

Mentors are incredibly important in realizing your potential. Surrounding yourself with supportive people and being in an empowering environment is also critical for growth and success.

Success is less about talent and more about effort and persistence. Adversity can really help us reach our hidden potential.

It’s important to become clear on your goals and have a compelling why. In particular, intrinsic motivation where you are striving after a goal for your reasons is the best approach.

To access your potential, engage in self-reflection and continuous learning. You can use meditation, mindfulness, and emotional regulation strategies to help ensure you are at your best more of the time.

Seek constructive feedback and embrace challenges where you are forced to increase your skill level. The key is to be comfortable with discomfort and that will help you grow and thrive.

What People Don’t Realize About Accessing Your Hidden Potential

While most of the above are well known and understood, there are a few more counterintuitive insights that Grant explores.

Failure as a stepping stone: While many view failure as a setback, Grant emphasizes that every failure can be a stepping stone to future success. Embracing and learning from failure is crucial for unlocking potential.

Procrastination enhances creativity: Following on from his work in the book Originals, contrary to the common belief that procrastination is purely negative, Grant suggests that strategic procrastination can enhance creativity by allowing more time for ideas to incubate and develop.

Defensive pessimism as a tool: Instead of being purely optimistic, using defensive pessimism—visualizing potential problems—can actually help better prepare for challenges and improve performance.

Have disagreeable people as allies: Engaging with disagreeable people, who provide critical feedback and challenge your ideas, can strengthen your thinking and lead to better outcomes.

Quantity over quality for innovation: Grant highlights that generating a large number of ideas increases the likelihood of innovative breakthroughs, contrary to the idea that focusing solely on quality is the key to success. This is something he also touches on in Originals.

Organizational Psychology That Helps Us Thrive

Adam Grant’s insights on generosity, originality, rethinking, and hidden potential provide a powerful framework for personal and professional growth.

By embracing these principles, you can transform your approach to giving, enhance your creativity, and lead a more impactful life.

For more in-depth discussions on Adam Grant’s books check out this week’s episode of the Changing Minds podcast. I explore Originals and Give and Take.

I will do part two on the work of Adam Grant in two weeks and dive into Hidden Potential and Think Again.




The Brain Prompt

What are some ideas you know that by rethinking them, you’d be a lot happier and more successful?

What are ways you can be more of a healthy and successful giver?


Share this with anyone who might benefit from these insights, and have a great rest of your week.

For more insights, subscribe to my weekly newsletter (owenfitzpatrick.com/newsletter) and keep tuning in to the Changing Minds podcast.



P.S. To watch this week’s Changing Minds podcast episode on ‘The Work of Adam Grant’, check it out here.





You may also like

Inner Propaganda Podcast - Owen Fitzpatrick

Your information is protected, and I never spam, ever. You can view my privacy policy here.


Almost every single personal development approach I’ve studied over 30 years comes down to this solitary principle which I call the 4 and 2 principle. In this FREE PDF, I break down exactly what it is and how you can use it to transform your life.

Success! Check your email for details


You have the expertise but how do you put it together in such a way you can turn it into a business? For years now, I’ve been asked many times to reveal what I would do today if I was building my expert business from scratch. In this video training, I break it down step-by-step, in order, and walk you through exactly what I would do today if I was to start from the beginning.

Success! Check your email for details


This life changing video training explains the 8 steps that you need to take if you want to conquer adversity, handle change, manage your emotions and be at your best. I will explain some of the most important lessons I have learned from working with many thousands of people in more than 30 countries.

Success! Check your email for details