Hidden Potential: Prologue

Although I just started reading the book Hidden Potential by Adam Grant πŸ“š, I wanted to start summarizing the notes and key points I’ve captured as I’ve attempted to actively read through the content. My hope is that it will aid in my retention of the material as well as provide a reference for later. Especially since I’m reading this as part of the book club I belong to at work and we’ll be discussing it when we meet in a couple months.

Here’s a closer look at some of the key insights I noted in the prologue:

  1. Redefining Potential: Grant challenges the conventional notion of potential, asserting that it transcends initial capabilities. He asserts that everyone has hidden potential. The key is to unlock it. Grant referenced a landmark study where the lead psychologist concluded, β€œWhat any person in the world can learn, almost all persons can learn, if provided with appropriate… conditions of learning.β€œ

  2. Aspiration over Ambition: The distinction between ambition and aspiration emerges as a focal point. Grant underscores the significance of aspiring to become a certain type of person rather than merely achieving specific goals, shifting the focus from short-term accomplishments to long-term personal growth.

  3. The Evolution of Character: Grant argues that character, far from being static, is a set of learned capacities that enable individuals to live by their principles. As the Nobel laureate economist James Heckman concluded, character skills β€œpredict and produce success in life.β€œ

  4. Scaffolding for Growth: The concept of scaffolding serves as a metaphorical framework for facilitating learning and development. Grant illustrates how providing initial support and gradually transferring responsibility to the learner fosters autonomy and self-directed growth, akin to the process of constructing a sturdy edifice.

  5. Collective Empowerment: Through the example of the Raging Rooks chess team, Grant illuminates the potency of collective intelligence. He advocates for a collaborative approach where individuals aim not to be the smartest in the room but to elevate the collective intelligence.

  6. Measuring True Potential: Grant redefines the yardstick for assessing potential, positing that true potential is not gauged solely by peak achievements but by the journey and growth undertaken to attain them. This perspective reframes success as a continuous process of self-improvement and resilience.

Although just the prologue, I’m already hooked by Grant’s use of data, research, and story to drive home his points. I’m really looking forward to the chapters ahead.

I’m using my phone to scan the notes and handmade cards I’ve received from my kids over the years. Even though I now have a digital copy of everything, I’m still having a hard time putting the physical copy in the recycling bin. Does anyone else struggle with this? Any encouragement you can offer?

Currently reading: Hidden Potential by Adam Grant πŸ“š I’m only one chapter in so far but am already struck by the tension that exists between our natural human inclination to seek comfort and the reality that the best way to accelerate growth is to embrace, seek, and amplify discomfort.

When it comes to exercise, I’ve determined there are two types of soreness: the bad sore that actually hurts and limits your ability to function normally, and the good sore that simply serves as a reminder that you’ve exercised. I like the good sore.

This morning, while walking in my neighborhood, I (a pedestrian) narrowly avoided a collision with a food/grocery delivery driver at a busy intersection. Despite having the walk signal and her facing a red light, she rolled into the crosswalk, only stopping when my hands were on the hood of her car. Thankfully, she braked in time to prevent any harm. She was apologetic, but unfortunately, she was also distracted by her phone, engaged in a lively conversation. The dangers of driving while distracted seems to be a growing problem that could soon rival driving while impaired. Perhaps using a hands-free device could have made her more aware of her surroundings. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

It’s interesting how the scope expands so easily. Yesterday, I started thinking about getting a bike and budgeting for that and now I am thinking I also need to get a trailer hitch installed on my car to accommodate the new bike rack that I’ll also need to purchase. πŸ’Έ

Embracing a new adventure! πŸš΄β€β™€οΈ My bum knee and aching joints have convinced me that running doesn’t enjoy me. So, I’ve swapped my sneakers for a stationary bike. But I miss the fresh air! I’m considering investing in a bikeβ€”maybe a gravel bike? πŸ€” Any seasoned cyclists out there? I’m all ears!

Although it has happened unintentionally, I’ve noticed a daily routine I’ve established. It seems I’m (accidentally) practicing intermittent fasting. Despite waking up and being at my desk working by around 7 AM every day, I typically don’t have my first meal until around noon. Again, this isn’t intentional, but it’s been happening for at least the past six months. The only things I consume in the first half of the day are water and a couple of cups of coffee. I’m unsure whether this is good or bad, but it has definitely become a habitual routine.

I was just reading through an old book on my shelf and noticed I had to keep fussing with part of the dust jacket that was torn. I’m wondering what others do with torn dust jackets. Should I try to mend it with tape or just discard it altogether?

While reading today’s entry in ‘Streams in the Desert,’ I came across the following quote:

“Believe God’s word and power more than you believe your own feelings and experiences. Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock which ebbs and flows, but your sea.” - Samuel Rutherford

This was offered in the context of distinguishing between the fact of God’s presence, and the emotion of the fact.

My daughter is planning for me to watch the Oscars with her tonight so I thought about watching another one of the movies that is up for Best Picture but don’t really feel like investing 3 hours into a film right now. I feel like I need to be more “productive” in the meantime.

🍿 Watching: Killers of the Flower Moon

Cold but clear PNW morning. Clear enough to grab this quick capture of Mt. Rainier. πŸ“·πŸ”οΈ Picture of Mt. Rainier with a crescent moon in the background.

Yearning for Video Store Vibes in a Streaming World

I had the most random thought run through my mind tonight and I’m still not really sure what prompted it. It might have been on my walk to the mailbox and something triggered the memory of “back in the day” when I would make the trip to the mailbox for the Netflix DVDs that would arrive as part of my subscription. This, in turn, caused me to think about how the dependence on physical media (either DVDs delivered in the mail by Netflix or picked up from a local Redbox) has been made obsolete by the availability of streaming services.

What’s strange is that I found myself yearning for the ritual of visiting my neighborhood video store, leisurely wandering through the aisles, and selecting a movie for the night. It’s a sentiment that contradicts my overarching preference for the convenience and accessibility offered by streaming services. However, in all honesty, my quest for something to stream often entails scrolling through an overwhelming array of options that fail to capture my interest. More often than not, I end up settling for a familiar movie I’ve seen before or reluctantly paying for a rental that isn’t covered by my subscription. And, if I’m honest, there’s something about the ritual involved with physically visiting a video store and tangibly engaging with DVD cases.

I’m willing to acknowledge that this desire to ritual is probably most closely associated with something I’ve mentioned before. As someone who works (and works out) at home, I think I’m essentially craving excuses and opportunities to leave my home and engage in community and interact with flesh and blood outside of my own home.

Learning to dance with a limp

I spent some time reflecting on last week’s sentencing hearing. Throughout the three hours in the courtroom, the judge maintained a stoic demeanor, silently listening. However, towards the end, after delivering sentences to the two defendants who took my sister-in-law’s life, the judge shared some words of comfort with our family. She acknowledged a painful truth – that we don’t have a “justice” system capable of bringing Lori back to life. Instead, we operate within a “legal” system that simply guides her decision on the duration of the defendants' imprisonment.

In a poignant moment, the judge directly addressed my young daughter, who earlier had bravely expressed the impact of her aunt’s murder. The judge wanted her to understand that, despite the tragedy, the court also plays a role in happier events like adoptions and marriages. (Ironically, as we left the court that evening and stepped off the first-floor elevator, a large wedding party in the foyer was capturing joyful moments.)

The judge then shared a quote attributed to Anne Lamott:

β€œYou will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken. The bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectlyβ€”that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

In the context of the hearing (both through some of the victim impact statements as well as photos of Lori) the judge picked up on the fact that Lori enjoyed dancing. Lori was known for spontaneous dance parties, using them as a vehicle to express her joy. The judge encouraged us to honor Lori by learning to dance with a limp – acknowledging our wounds, feeling the pain, and adapting our moves. Even if it’s not the same, she urged us to keep dancing.

The truth is, living on this earth brings inevitable limps – physical, emotional, or spiritual. Most of us are already walking with a limp; I certainly am. Yet, I realize the need to dance more. To actively seek joy in every moment and, when it seems elusive, to strive to create itβ€”for myself and others. And when I do, perhaps, just perhaps, I need to dance and think of Lori.

Tomorrow is the sentencing hearing for the two individuals who took my sister-in-law’s life in March 2020. Writing the victim impact statement and anticipating the hearing has stirred up a new wave of emotions. Although I know it won’t change much, I’m looking forward to getting past tomorrow.

Today is my first day back at work after taking time off during the holidays. I definitely enjoyed my time off but it is difficult to jump right back into things at work. There’s always a tax to pay after being away for a bit. I’m determined to take smaller, more frequent breaks from work this year.

Working from home for the past 3+ years has saved me around 2.5 hours per day in commuting time and I’m very happy about that. But my commute is when I would listen to my podcasts and/or audiobooks. I’ve never really figured out how best to incorporate that back into my daily schedule. Sure, I still make time to read but I realize I miss some of the podcasts to which I used to listen. I might need to start blocking time for that during my day.

Although I still have the remnants of a cough, today is the first day in over a month that I actually feel pretty decent and like I have enough energy to do what I need/want to do. I’m really hoping this is the start of a positive health trend.

When my iPhone 12 Pro died the other day, my kids thought it was obvious that I would just get a new iPhone 15 as a replacement. While I still might do that, in the meantime I decided to put my old iPhone 6s back in the rotation. It’s taken me a while to get used to the home button again.