Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies compassion–our ability to endure suffering, grief, and ultimately prove resilient in spite of life’s biggest battles. In an inspiring talk at Dreamforce, he shared insights from his newest book, Option B. His research encourages motivated Trailblazers around the world to invest more deeply in caring for their communities and themselves. We’ve summarized his essential tips for how you can find strength in the face of adversity and develop true self-empathy.
“People who are into mindfulness are especially bad at this. When you’re practicing mindfulness it’s all about living in the moment, but when you’ve just failed, the moment sucks. You don’t want to be anywhere near that moment – you’d rather be in the past or the future because who wants to confront those feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and shame? Self-compassion requires gaining distance from that moment.”
“After experiencing a big failure, try writing a letter to yourself showing yourself the same understanding you would give to a friend. Begin by writing all of the reasons why you should forgive yourself. Study participants who tried this were on average 40 percent happier and 24 percent less angry.”
“You can’t control something after it’s already happened. What you can control is your response to adversity.” If you get a poor review after a presentation at work, you can’t control that review, but you can control how you accept critical feedback. Ask yourself or even your manager, what is the one thing I can do to improve or get better?
“A big part of self-compassion is being willing to put your weaknesses out there. Letting others see you are human is the only way you learn and the only way you get better. You are a work in progress; signal to people you are trying to get better.”
“Listening to unpleasant truths is a great way to get others to help you on your path to self-development. Remember when you played sports or did performance art? You were never threatened by any sort of negative feedback from your coach because your coach was there to help you. If we view the majority of the relationships in our life as having a goal of trying to make us more successful, it’s a lot easier to have empathy for ourselves when we do fall short.”
“The biggest barrier for compassion is people are afraid to ask for help because they don’t want to be look vulnerable, they don’t want to embarrass themselves.” If we all ask for help when needed, we will all have the opportunity to step up and support one another. “Only by establishing a norm for generosity, can we all get more of what we want.”
“The time you spend solving other peoples’ problems actually gives you new knowledge to solve your own problems. Over years and decades that knowledge accumulates into an expertise advantage making you happier and more successful.”
Watch Adam Grant’s full Dreamforce 2017 session here.