11 Illustrations from The Hidden Potential Book by Adam Grants that Redefine Possibilities

While self-help books usually teach you how to live your life and avoid making mistakes, today’s pick encourages you to make mistakes. I enjoyed reading it even more than the author’s previous bestseller. I think it will surpass it in sales in the coming months. Don’t think so? Think Again!

Today’s book is “Hidden Potential,” the recent masterpiece by Adam Grant, the author of the bestseller “Think Again.” I enjoyed the book so much, but what really caught my eyes were the illustrations used. Here, I will be sharing 11 illustrations from the book that I think are important to grasp and to integrate into your mindset. While they are simple and subtle, they are mostly forgotten.

1. Start Now — Forget the Plan

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We tend to wait for the perfect moment, once we have all things figured out and when we feel we are ready but odds are that moment will never come. So you need to start now when you have a direction, a compass that leads to your goal, not when you have a detailed map. The map will be revealed along the way.

2. A Spiral of Growth

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When we make a mistake, we feel lost, ashamed, and embarrassed. After all, we are adults, mistakes are for kids. We enter what we think is a circle of confusion, making mistake after mistake where, in fact, it is a spiral of growth. Just remember all great minds in history had made at least one mistake in their lives.

3. Look Backward

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When we’re stuck and feel hopeless and start to blame ourselves if our jobs are not going as planned or our projects are somehow stumbling, we tend to quit or feel unconfident. That is the time to be proud of yourself. To acknowledge how far you have traveled to achieve this. You did great things in the past that have put you there now. Look backward and acknowledge your achievement.

4. Forget Traditional Learning

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We have been deceived by traditional learning systems. They are designed as a linear learning experience where in fact nothing is linear in life, especially not learning. In college, you take a course after course and you are expected to remember your courses in level 1 (without application, you did not have the chance yet to apply the principle) while in real life learning is mostly done by applying and experience. Expect setbacks and learn from them.

5. Time Off is Not a Privilege

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This is a hard one for me. I used to freak about productivity. Every minute has to be used to produce something, to achieve something, to learn something. While learning and planning is important, we need to enjoy the process to be sustainable and live our life. There is nothing wrong to take a break when You Want To. You don’t have to wait until you are exhausted and then break is no longer a choice. This reinforces Stephen Covey’s 7th habit of highly effective people: Sharpen the Saw.

6. Appreciate Your Wins, Even Small Ones

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We tend to overreact to our mistakes and underreact to our wins. It is a human thing. As mentioned in #2 A Spiral of Growth, mistakes are necessary for learning. Don’t go hard on yourself, reflect on your mistake, learn from it, and move on.

7. Acceptably Perfect

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Forget perfectionism and focus on acceptable perfection. Nothing is perfect in life. Just focus on what is acceptable and deliver your highest standard; it will raise as you progress. Waiting for the perfect moment, perfect service, perfect product is only deterring you from your potential.

8. All Wins are Wins

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With globalization and social media, we often compare ourselves to others. For instance, when I post an article and it only gets 300 claps, I used to feel bad because others are getting thousands. I didn’t take into account factors like when I joined the platform or the fact that I don’t have followers on other platforms that I can leverage as traffic to my article. Essentially, I was comparing myself to others without considering my past, which is clearly a factor in these metrics. Instead, I should compare it to my previous articles and definitely, I will see improvements. Your wins are well-deserved and hard-earned based on your past and history.

9. Choose the Right People

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Teams are necessary for growth. I am still struggling with that. Neil Patel claims in his book “From Zero to One” that nothing great is achieved by one person alone. I read the same in the book “My Life in Advertising,” by Claude C. Hopkins. Be careful with the people surrounding you as your energy is highly affected by them.

10. Start Now Think Long Term

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Don’t rush results. Think long term. When we start something, we often fall into many traps.

  • We compare ourselves to others who have been in the game for a long time.
  • We expect quick results and so when things don’t work out immediately, we quit.
  • Or worse, we think we should have started earlier and so we don’t even start.

If we think long term, we avoid these traps. We set our goals far away at a longer time and allow ourselves some room in the beginning to learn, adapt, and modify. With a solid plan and no rush to execute it, surely we will reach our journey through the calmest of our actions.

11. Do the Unknown

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We grow when we try, when we make mistakes. When we only do things we already know, we don’t grow. We stay in our comfort zone. We are stuck and we blame everything but ourselves. Those who challenge themselves mostly suffer in the beginning but grow eventually. The key here is to expect mistakes from yourself. Don’t shy away from them. With time, you will become an expert who is always on a journey to learn.


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