In this episode, I talk to psychologist Professor Todd Kashdan about a variety of topics, homing in on the subject of his latest book “The art of insubordination”. Todd explores how diverging from norms isn’t always a bad thing—especially if it’s in pursuit of positive change. But that there is a way to disagree constructively. We also discuss ageism, diversity, communication, intellectual humility and essential life skills.
Todd Kashdan is leading expert on the psychology of well-being, curiosity, psychological strengths, mental agility, and social relationships. His research has been featured in the Harvard Business Review, New York Times, and Forbes amongst many other publications. In 2010, he received the Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year Award at George Mason University and in 2013, he received the Distinguished Early Career Researcher Award by the American Psychological Association. His latest book, The Art of Insubordination, is for anyone who wants to see more justice, creativity & innovation in the world. He is also the author of Curious?, The Upside of Your Darkside, and Designing Positive Psychology.
Todd’s work is right at the front of my first book Defining You opening with how to keep your mind as open and flexible as possible in order to explore your own story. I approached Todd for permission to include his curiosity inventory and he very generously said yes.
Todd has done some fantastic work from research to writing and his website https://toddkashdan.com/ is really worth exploring.
We discuss ageism and how Todd says that he obsesses over social norms that are dysfunctional. Take for example Silicon Valley rebuffing the idea of giving anyone over the age of 25 a second look for job opportunities. How we don’t have a cultural respect for our elders like in Asian cultures and if we did we that maybe we’d gain wisdom from the people right there in our families rather than having to refer to books. But Todd also raises how ageism is directed both ways – the older generations can dismiss the younger or refuse to learn and be inflexible to changes that are coming through. We need more cross-pollination of intergenerational thinking.
We discuss false information and Todd explains how “the information that we’re first exposed to is rarely right wherever that’s from” yet we tend to take the view of people we perceive as socially attractive, and dismiss those who are not. When coming to a ‘point of view’ Todd encourages us all to stop and ask ourselves these questions:
By doing this we show intellectual humility, curiosity and perspective taking helping to play our part in making the world a better place to be.
Todd recently published a piece on ‘The 10 principles for having constructive conflict in organisations’. Something we need to do if we’re to ensure diversity. We discuss how important this is in boardrooms to classrooms and Todd emphasizes how important it is to “allow people to disagree even as minorities of one, not because they might be right but just because it allows everyone to see like ‘oh maybe we are prematurely closing on one viewpoint too quickly.’”
When it comes to the learning Todd comments on the strange societal attitude we have to learning. “The notion of living until you're in your 80s and 90s and yet you’re done with formal education after college at the age of around 22. So for the next 40 years you just you wing it and you go into your silo in terms of your own individual searches for books and for information online.” And poses the question to you the listener of “What is the fundamental list of life skills that everyone should learn?” I’d love to know your thoughts.