Juicy Bits: Adam Grant on resilience

Juicy Bits: Adam Grant on resilience

Juicy Bits are, well, just what the name implies. The juiciest bits that you’d want your future self to remember.

Here’s Adam Grant on the Farnam Street podcast (minute 56)

What did you learn about facing adversity and building resilience?

I don’t think we’re very good at mental time travel. When something goes wrong,  we amplify it and catastrophize it  – it starts to feel like it’s “the worst thing that ever happened to me” yet in rare cases it is. That’s stiff competition. For something to be the worst thing that ever happened to you of all the bad things that have ever occurred to you in your life – this has to be the worst. The odds are, it’s not the worst thing.
One of the skills we all need to develop is the ability to get in touch with our past selves. Imagine, “what would my past self have done in this situation?” And when you do that, you see that there are skills you’re equipped with now that you didn’t have before. And when that’s not the feeling, the next thing is “What’s an adversity that was seemingly difficult or even worse – and how did I overcome it?” And remembering that you have overcome it 1) boosts your self-efficacy and confidence that you can do it again and 2) even gives you strategies you may have forgotten about and deployed earlier in your life and have just lost sight of. 

On recalibrating baseline happiness for accomplishments

I’ve started to do this for occasional accomplishments. I remember publishing Give and Take. It was a really amazing feeling. The idea of becoming an author was such a meaningful life transition. Then Originals came out and I was like “Yeah, I wrote another book.” I had totally adapted to being an author and it hardly registered as something to mark and celebrate. What I started doing to prevent that from happening was [inspired by Sheryl Sandberg who said]  “Look, moments of joy are really important and part of what makes life worth living and what we have to look forward to.” Being human is being able to enjoy life.  When these milestone moments now occur, what I do now is I rewind five years and ask myself, “If five years ago self knew that this was going to happen, how excited would I be?” But it gets me back in touch with the emotion and that transcends adversity.

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Khe Hy
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Khe Hy is the creator of RadReads.