Book review: Hidden Potential - The Science of Achieving Greater Things

Written by Julie Burton.

Hidden Potential ImageIt’s been a while since I have been to the NZBWN Book Club at Ozone in London, and I was not disappointed!

The group attending were open, curious and friendly Kiwis (plus a visitor who enjoyed the book and wanted to join a group to chat about it) and we shared the love of continuous learning. The book was interesting to all of us for different reasons and sparked lots of conversation and insights. The great people at Ozone were welcoming, friendly and delivered an amazing brunch.

Hidden Potential is the latest book by Organisational Psychologist Adam Grant, and it focuses on the things we can do to find our own hidden potential and be more aware of identifying it in others.

The areas we discussed covered perfectionism, collaboration, storytelling, specialists and generalists, measuring success and utilising our strengths.

The storytelling throughout the book made it easy for the group to each pick their insight out and be able to share it. The stories about potential being realised were relatable and practical, so that we could find something that resonated with our situations.

Examples such as having an early teacher for several continuous years, meant the teachers were more likely to spot student potential, and this supported how well pupils did later on. Another example was about an astronaut’s resilience when applying for such a highly skilled role without the traditional requirements. We also learnt about the career progression frustration of a single hierarchical track, when having parallel tracks (management and expert) in our organisations could fulfil more potential.

The book shows you how to make impact to:

  • “Build character skills (including becoming an imperfectionist)”
  • “Set up scaffolding to overcome obstacles (e.g. right support at the right time)”
  • “Build systems of opportunity (open doors, design schools, leverage teams)”

We all found the book relatable to our own situations, easy to read and identify takeaways that we could use straight away.

  • Recognising the signs of perfectionism
  • Considering parallel career tracks - leaders and experts
  • Setting up our own scaffolding support structure

If you get a chance to read or listen to Hidden Potential we hope you enjoy the storytelling and are able to uncover insights regarding your own potential and the potential in others.