Originality is Always the Answer

Originals Book Review

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

I really enjoyed this book. I took tons of notes while reading it. Here are a few of my takeaways from it.

Question the Default

“The hallmark of originality is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better option exists.”

I do this all the time. I really don’t like doing things simply because they were always done that way. I question everything.

Grant writes, “The starting point is curiosity: pondering why the default exists in the first place. We’re driven to question defaults when we experience vuja de, the opposite of deja vu . . . we face something familiar, but we see it with a fresh perspective that enables us to gain new insights into old problems.”

Don’t Censor Yourself

“The last time you had an original idea, what did you do with it?”

Great question! I bet many of us get a great idea and then dismiss it without a further thought. Grant suggests that these ideas have merit and we should follow through with them. He writes, “When it comes to powerful ideas in our heads and the core values in our hearts, we censor ourselves.”

Time is Not Your Enemy

“Common sense suggests that creative accomplishments can’t flourish without big windows of time and energy.”

This is completely false. You can be creative any time. In fact, if you suddenly find yourselves with lots of time on your hands, you will probably get stalled. I know this from experience. It is hard to work when everything is open to you.

This reminds me of a common phrase, “If you want something done, give it to a busy man.” The first time I head this phrase I was taken aback. But I have seen it time and time again. Many people who accomplish a lot of things, have many things on their plate. Doing more things helps you do more things. Counter-intuitive, but true!

Work . . A Lot!

You can rise to the top of a field by doing a large amount of work. Grant writes, “creative geniuses weren’t better qualified in their fields than their peers. They simply produced a greater volume of work, which gave them more variation and a higher chance of originality.”

“If you want to be original, ‘the most important possible thing you could do,’ says Ira Glass, the producer of This American Life and the podcast Serial, “is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work.”

It also turns out that people who work a lot on their creative endeavors also produce some of their best work during that time of high volume.

“most prolific people not only have the highest originality; they also generate their most original output during the periods in which they produce the largest volume.”

Very strange, but once again, this holds up to scrutiny.

I have more notes and commentary about this book that I will share soon.

My List of 2019 Reads – my detailed list everything I read this year.