Everyone wants to be original. But what does that really mean? Does it mean being the first, or being the best? In one of 2016’s most popular TED Talk sessions, author and professor Adam Grant explores the concept of what makes someone an “original thinker.” Below, we have outlined the three qualifiers from Grant’s talk and how they apply to becoming a successful business leader.
Adam Grant’s “The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers” TED Talk
Late to the Party
In his TED Talk, The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers, Grant reveals some unexpected details about the link between procrastination and success. He tells a story of former students who asked him to invest in their start-up. They were behind schedule, so Grant declined. He later found out that their company was none other than the widely successful Warby Parker. As a chronic “pre-crastinator”, Grant failed to see that sometimes procrastination is necessary when building something great.
“Originals are non-conformists, they drive creativity in the world,” Grant said. When you procrastinate, you have more time to think through the prompt, and create original, “divergent” ideas. However, procrastination does not always lead to success. There is a “sweet spot” of productivity and creativity somewhere in the middle between pre-crastinating and overly procrastinating. If you start on a project too early, you aren’t taking advantage of your brain power. Rather you’re solving issues in the easiest, most accessible way, which is most likely how everyone else is working. If you wait too long, you run out of time and do the same thing. But if you procrastinate just long enough, you might reach a truly original solution.
Feel Doubt and Fear
As Grant mentions in his TED Talk, when you think of an original thinker, you think of someone who is unabashedly confident and self-assured. But in reality, people who come up with great and unique ideas are just as afraid of failing as anyone else. What sets them apart however, is that their fear of not trying at all outweighs their fear of failure. They believe in the idea that our biggest regrets are not our actions, but our inactions.
Lots of Bad Ideas
It can be discouraging to have one unsuccessful idea after another, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. Original thinkers fail the most because they are the ones that try the most. If you want to be an original, you have to generate a lot of ideas. Is it easy to remember the famous inventors and business-owners for the one idea that made them famous, but that wasn’t their first, or their last idea.
Grant also says that an original idea doesn’t necessarily have to be unique. Take Google for instance. The search engine wasn’t the first of its kind. Yahoo came before, and yet Google is used far more frequently than any other search engine. “You don’t have to be first, you just have to be better,” he said.
At Number8 we strive to empower original thinkers within our own staff, and among our clients. If you are a business leader with an original idea, but need some help making it happen, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or learn more about our services here.