#993 book: Thinking Big


I discovered Think Big – Take Small Steps and Build the Future You Want on a podcast when I was feeling a desperate need for a change in profession. After founding a venture with an investor that did not turn out well, especially on the human side, I realized that despite my hard work, dedication, and effort, the seeds were doomed not to grow.

Dr. Grace Lordan’s book arrived at the perfect time. Although the title suggests thinking big, it provides a different perspective. I didn’t get what I expected, but that turned out to be a good thing. I was pleasantly surprised!

Thinking big is a mindset that involves caring for your potential. The book raises key questions such as: how do we perceive the world and ourselves, what ingredients influence our choices, how do we act upon it, what is conscious and unconscious, and how can we create awareness for long-term change? Finally, how can we work on our better selves? Grace calls it ME+.

“Thinking Big” is a beautifully written guide that provides practical strategies, grounded in behavioral science, for achieving personal and professional growth. It raises awareness of our limitations, which are often biases, expectations, or lack of tools or behavior. These limitations can be overcome with profound work and self-care by getting rid of our patterned, scientifically-explained filters for a better self.

Despite my initial expectations for a toolbox of tactics to think big, the book’s approach is to clean ourselves. What we seek is already inside us, just a little covered. Contrary to most “self-help” books, Dr. Lordan’s ego is not the star, but the science behind it, presented in a comprehensive and engaging way.

This book is divided into eight sections that explore how we can tap into our potential and accomplish our objectives by embracing a growth mindset and conquering our self-imposed limitations.

  1. Introduction: Mindsets, Beliefs, and Behaviors
  2. Goal: Growth Mindset – Seeing Opportunity in Change
  3. Time: Beliefs – Using Self-Talk to Build a Growth Mindset
  4. Inside: Fear – Confronting Fear and Building Resilience
  5. Outside: Balance – Maximizing Work and Life Satisfaction
  6. Environment: Learning – Creating a Personal Learning Pathway
  7. Resilience: Bouncing Back from Setbacks
  8. Journey: Networks – Building Your Own Personal Board of Advisors
Each section contains up to nine behavioral science insights, meaning there are at least 63 valuable insights to work on. Grace suggests a trial-and-error approach: if there is no improvement after one week, move on to the next insight and give it your all. To provide more detail, let’s take a look at the ingredients in Chapter 7:
  • Insight 1: Biases in your network and influencers
    Go back to the list of three people you came up with to expand your network in Chapter 2, and ensure that they are sufficiently diverse.

  • Insight 2: Did you pick the right big-thinking goal?
    Can you say for sure that the activities that you love doing define your ultimate stated goal?

  • Insight 3: Loss aversion
    Don’t let the way you think about failure stop you from putting your hat in the ring. Remind yourself that there is always a positive probability of success.

  • Insight 4: Know your value
    Research how much other people that are doing jobs like you are earning (your market rate), to help deal with anchoring on rates that are too low and ensure you’re getting paid what you are worth.

  • Insight 5: Why don’t you ask for what we need more often?
    Don’t assume that the people around you are noticing your progress. They are busy. Join the dots for them and highlight your development to ensure you are adequately rewarded.

  • Insight 6: Two-way conversation
    Approach feedback opportunities strategically. Develop a thick skin and be open to critical feedback. Weh you receive feedback you don’t agree with, remind yourself it is one data point, and take the time to verify it with other sources.

  • Insight 7: Saving face
    Avoid the saving face effect by recognizing that, regardless of whether you fail or succeed at something, very few people will notice, and if they do it will be short-lived.

  • Insight 8: Remaining open to new opportunities
    Take opportunities that come out of the blue seriously. Remind yourself that people always regret inaction more than action.

  • Insight 9: Take responsibility and grow
    Don’t blame others or cosmic injustice for any failure that may occur. Take the time to reflect honestly on wether a lack of effort on your part or perhaps poor decision-making led to the bad outcome.

  • Insight 10: Don’t forget to breathe out
    This is a marathon, not a sprint. Make efforts to avoid ego depletion by scheduling well-being enhancing treats after intense periods of concentration or dedication.

Moreover, you will come across various behavioral science concepts, such as the Endowment effect, which fosters an emotional attachment to your belongings, and the Ostrich effect, where you avoid negative information by burying your head in the sand, hindering your growth.

Each section of the book includes practical and enjoyable exercises (which is not always the case in self-help books) and real-world examples to help readers apply the concepts and strategies to their own lives. Grace shares her own life struggles in a very sympathetic and helpful way, adding depth and warmth to the book. Overall, it’s a unique combination that makes this book stand out.

The book emphasizes the importance of adopting a growth mindset, developing positive beliefs, taking risks, learning from setbacks, and building a supportive network to achieve success and fulfillment. These principles can be applied to all aspects of life, not just one’s career.

It has been a while since I last enjoyed reading a book from cover to cover. This particular book has been instrumental in equipping me with a wide range of tools. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to enhance their personal growth and find their ME+.


Expertise of author:
Density of information:
Book architecture: 4/5
Sound of Book: 5/5
Actionability: 5/5

Total 4,5

About Dr. Lordan

Dr. Grace Lordan is an accomplished scholar and expert on the effects of bias, discrimination, and technology changes. She has a Ph.D. in Economics and an undergraduate degree in computer science, and her research focuses on understanding why some individuals succeed in life while others don’t. Her work has been featured in top publications such as The Financial Times, The Guardian, and Forbes.

In 2020, Grace founded The Inclusion Initiative (TII), a research center at the LSE that aims to bring behavioral science insights to firms to enhance the inclusion of all talent. She is also the inaugural Director of the MSc in Behavioural Science at the LSE, where she teaches corporate behavior and decision-making to executive MSc students. Grace has a decade of experience teaching econometrics at the LSE.

Grace is a sought-after public speaker and has given talks to Blue Chip Companies and at conferences. She has also served as an expert advisor to the UK government, where she sat on their skills and productivity board, and is a member of the UK government’s BEIS social mobility taskforce and the Women in Finance Charter’s advisory board. Grace has led consultancy projects for the Low Pay Commission and the European Commission and has been invited to speak at events convened by the Irish, British, French, Australian, and US governments.

In March 2021, Grace published Think Big – Take Small Steps, and Build the Future You Want, her first book which relays behavioral science insights to readers to help them commit to a medium-term plan to realize their aspirations. Overall, Grace is a dynamic and influential figure in the fields of economics and behavioral science, with a passion for enhancing inclusion and productivity in organizations.