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Challenging networks: get yourself some disagreeable givers

Learning can sometimes be incredibly painful, and this lesson I recently learned is a prime example. I even created a somewhat distressing video about it.

For as long as I can remember, I've always had an innate urge to learn, grow, and constantly better myself. In my quest for personal and professional growth, I recently stumbled upon a fascinating concept! At a conference, Adam Grant spoke about the idea of a 'Challenge Network'. I had read about it in his book 'Think Again', but as often happens, hearing about it live versus reading it in a book, had a much greater impact and has transformed my thinking about success and growth.

So, what is a 'Challenge Network'? Unlike a support network, which consists of people who encourage us and cheer us on, a 'Challenge Network' is made up of people we trust to point out our blind spots and help us overcome our weaknesses. These are the people who disagree with us, are critical and sceptical, and who aren't afraid to challenge the way things have always been done, holding us accountable for rethinking. Adam Grant refers to these individuals as Disagreeable Givers.

These individuals say what you don't want to hear and sometimes, they might even hurt you a bit with their words, but it's all meant to strengthen you. Agreeable Givers also contribute. They offer new ideas, compliments, and are always positive. However, the Disagreeable Givers are also willing to say those things ‘that piss you off!’ but are worth considering. Or, as Grant so eloquently put it: Honesty is the highest form of loyalty.

Adam illustrated his idea with an inspiring story from Pixar. An outsider director, Brad Bird, was hired to shake things up. Despite scepticism from the company's leadership, Bird assembled a team of 'difficult' people, who were considered misfits within the company. This team, against all odds, not only managed to produce Pixar's most complex film to that date, "The Incredibles", but also succeeded in reducing production costs per minute.

Brad Bird's story at Pixar made me realise that embracing a 'Challenge Network' is crucial for innovation and success. These 'difficult' people are the ones who foster constructive conflict and often speak up, especially when leaders are unresponsive. They provide the critical feedback we might not want to hear, but need to hear.

So, the next time you meet someone who challenges your ideas or beliefs, think twice before dismissing them. They might just be part of your 'Challenge Network', offering the critical feedback you need to grow and succeed. Let’s embrace our 'difficult' colleagues, friends, and mentors, and see the value they bring into our lives. After all, in this ever-changing world, it’s essential to continuously reinvent and grow ourselves.

I am going to expand my network of Disagreeable Givers.

Adam Grant also recorded a video where he and his colleagues read aloud from their evaluations, especially those that were not so positive.
See the video down here:

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Challenging networks: get yourself some disagreeable givers

26 min