Podcast Transcriptions

Pursue What Matters

Episode 247: Book Review – Hidden Potential

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  Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Are you living to your potential? Or are you just sliding by? How would you even know? Well, I’ve got a great book with all the latest research on discovering your hidden potential.

Dr. Melissa Smith 0:12
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So it’s another month, which means it’s time for another great book review. And the book that I’m reviewing today is hot off the press from one of my favorite leadership authors. And that is Adam Grant. So he’s got a new book. Sure to be a best seller. All his books are most of his books are I think, the book is called hidden potential, the science of achieving greater things by Adam Grant, his last book was Think Again, he is a very popular author. He’s also written, give and take originals, and Option B. So this book just came out the end of 2023. So it’s new. It’s got the latest research on discovering your hidden potential. And I’m really excited about it. It is a fun read. And grads books tend to be very engaging, he really uses the art of storytelling. And so let’s learn a little bit about what people think about this book.

Dr. Melissa Smith 1:40
So first of all, from Malcolm Gladwell, I read hidden potential in one sitting loved it and have been thinking about it ever since, which is the highest praise, I can give a book. This is Adam grants finest work, it will inspire you to bigger dreams. And then we also have one from Yo Yo Ma. And the author really talks a lot about very talented people in their respective fields, he talks a little bit a little bit about Yo Yo Ma, this is what Yo Yo Ma said, hidden potential teaches us to reach new levels of mastery and unlock our greatest resource, our humanity, we would all be better off if we took Adam grants wise counsel seriously. So people really like the book. And I did too. Maybe you can tell.

Dr. Melissa Smith 2:26
Let’s learn a little bit more about Adam Grant. He is an organizational psychologist at the Wharton School, where he has been the top rated professor for seven straight years, his books have sold millions of copies, his TED talks have been viewed more than 30 million times. And he hosts the hit podcast regarding thinking his pioneering research on motivation and meaning has enabled people to reach their aspirations, and exceed other’s expectations. He has so many popular works. And he received his BA from Harvard University’s PhD from the University of Michigan. And he’s a former Junior Olympic spring board diver, which is pretty interesting. And that story shows up in the book as well. So of course, I’m not going to try and cover everything in the book, but just want to give you a nice overview and some tidbits that I really appreciated. And the hope is that what I share with you today will give you enough information for you to decide if this is a book that you would like to pick up again, it’s really engaging, he uses the art of storytelling, but it’s also full of very rigorous research, which is great.

Dr. Melissa Smith 3:38
So in introducing the book, Grant says that everyone has hidden potential. This book is about how we unlock it. So think about that for yourself. Do you have potential that you’re not accessing? I think it’s safe to say most of us do, right. And so this is a book about really helping you to unlock that potential, so that you can contribute at your highest level. That’s something that I talk about a lot on the podcast. And that is really the topic of this book. So before you feel sorry for yourself and say, I don’t have innate talent, I’m not a genius. This book is for you, because he really challenges that view. And it’s not that accurate. It’s not that helpful. And so what he says is that there’s a widely held belief that greatness is mostly born, not made. But that leads us to celebrate gifted students in school natural athletes and sports and child prodigies and music. But here’s the news. And this is one of the messages of the book. You don’t have to be a wunderkin to accomplish great things. And so he says his goal is to illuminate how we can all rise to achieve greater things. So I think that’s really great.

Dr. Melissa Smith 4:54
Some recent evidence, which he talks about in the book really underscores the importance of can conditions for learning. So sometimes we think about nature and nurture. He talks a lot about the role of nurturing. And that happens in the classroom that happens by good mentors and good coaching. And too many of us have really put too much emphasis on this idea of a prodigy or a genius, this innate, this the innate talent. And that’s not really what makes all the difference. For people, it’s really the conditions for learning. And you know, how far they go. And so he said, that, that you can’t tell where people will land from where they begin with the right opportunity and motivation to learn, anyone can build the skills to achieve greater things. Now, that doesn’t mean we’re all going to be a yo yo mom, right? It doesn’t mean that we’re all going to be at the top of our game. But we will achieve greater things when we can unlock this potential. So potential is not a matter of where you start, but of how far you travel. And I really love that perspective. And so He invites us to focus less on starting points, and more on distance travel. And I think that that makes intuitive sense for most of us, right? If we think about boy, how far have we come to get to, you know, a certain goal or progress in a certain area, and that is what’s most meaningful, right? So he says, continuing on that this is a this book is not about ambition, it’s about aspiration.

Dr. Melissa Smith 6:33
So as the philosopher Agnes colored highlights ambition is the outcome you want to attain. aspiration is the person you hope to become. And so the question is not how much money you can earn, how many fancy titles you land, or how many awards you accumulate, those status symbols are poor proxies for progress, okay, that’s important to pay attention to. And he says that what counts is not how hard you work, that how much you grow, we can be really hard workers, but not really be progressing or developing our skills and talents. And so he says, growth requires much more than a mindset. It begins with a set of skills that we normally overlook. And so that’s really the heart of this book. And so he really focuses on three main things to help you unlock your hidden potential. So the first category is character skills. And that is all about getting better at getting better. So how do we improve, Whoo, that’s really helpful for for all of us, right? Whether you’re a genius or not, getting better at getting better. And the second one is motivation structures. So he talks about this term of scaffolding, that we build a solid foundation to help us overcome obstacles. This is where we think about the role of teachers and mentors and coaches, but also deliberate practice and deliberate play, where we become more effective, that we’re not just working hard, but we’re working more effectively. And then the third component is opportunity systems. And that’s all about opening doors and windows.

Dr. Melissa Smith 8:10
So how do we really help a scale this at a society level at a community level. And so that’s really the focus. And for our purposes, today, I just want to say a little bit more about these character skills, because these are things that you could pay attention to right now in your daily life, for yourself, for your loved ones, if you’re a parent for your kiddos, there are three components to the character skills, where it’s, it’s getting better at getting better. The first is become creatures of discomfort. And I know this one that’s not going to sit well for people, right, because we are creatures of comfort we like we like our, our comfort and our space. But he really encourages us to embrace the awkwardness of learning. And growth does not happen in comfort, right? We know that growth does not happen in comfort. And so if you’re not embracing awkwardness, and the awkwardness of learning, you’re not improving.

Dr. Melissa Smith 9:10
And so I remember in my MBA program, that was something that I you know, I basically decided, like I need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, because there were a lot of things that made me quite uncomfortable. And if I let that be a stopping point, I was not going to be successful, I would get chewed up and spit out. But to be able to recognize the awkwardness of the vulnerability of learning as a marker of growth, right? Because if you’re doing it comfortable, you’re probably not learning. The second component of the character skills is build the capacity to absorb and adapt. And so he talks about this characteristic of being a human sponge where you’re just eager to learn and grow and get everything you can from a situation and then the third one that I just want to highlight is finding the sweet spot between flawed and flawless. Now I’m gonna do another podcast on this because there’s so much good stuff about this topic. And so he talks about the perfectionist and you know the difference between perfectionism and being able to get things right enough in order to progress.

Dr. Melissa Smith 10:17
And so there’s just a nice little sampling of what you can expect from this book. It’s hidden potential by Adam Grant. He’s one of my favorites. His books are always just so good. It’s so well researched and also really fun, great, great storytelling great stories in there. So head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/247-hiddenpotential. I will link to Adam Grant’s website and his book so you can check those out if you would like to. And again, that’s at www.drmelissasmith.com/247-hiddenpotential I sure appreciate it if you would give the podcast a five-star review on Apple or Spotify. It helps other people get to know the podcast. And in the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai