What I Learnt From Reading The Originals by Adam Grant
‘Originals’ has been one of my favourite reads so far in 2019, recommended to me by Sam, the book is about people throughout history who were originals, people who made progress morally like Martin Luther King Jr, creatively like Srdja Popovic, and organisationally like Greg Jenson.
It was packed full of stories, tips and tricks from original people from varying industries, backgrounds, locations, and time periods, though all share one thing in common, their status as originals.
I learnt so much from reading this book, so I thought I'd summarise it into my top ten takeaways so you too can benefit from this knowledge and nurture your inner original.
Question the default
Instead of just accepting the status quo as it is, question its existence, because it can always be improved.
Procrastinating was found to positively correlate with creativity and originality, but only when it was done strategically, meaning that when you're in the middle of brainstorming or writing new ideas deliberately stop and take a break, as this makes it more likely that you'll engage in divergent thinking, therefore coming up with more original ideas.
Seek more feedback
Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) we can be blind to the pitfalls of our own ideas, so it's a good idea to actively seek feedback from others as they are more likely to see the possibilities of your idea but also poke holes in it, allowing you to either patch them up or abandon ship.
Highlight the reasons not to support your idea
Much like I mentioned above, we are often blind to the pitfalls of own ideas, so it's a good idea to actually sit down and analyse your ideas with the intention of highlighting the weaknesses. Start with the three biggest weaknesses and set to work making them into strengths.
Don't try to calm down
Okay, so you know when you're about to do something that makes you feel nervous and uncomfortable, like jumping out of a plane? Or public speaking? Well instead of trying to calm yourself down, pump yourself up and get excited instead, it's much easier to turn anxious energy into excitement than calmness.
This was found to have immensely positive results for the people who used this strategy, they performed better on average than those who attempted to calm themselves.
Focus on the victim not the perpetrator
By focusing on the injustice done to the victim and not by the perpetrator you are more likely to feel empathetic and therefore channel your anger in a more constructive and beneficial way by helping the victim, rather than taking your anger out on the perpetrator.
Remember that if you don't take initiative, the status quo will persist
There are four responses we can make when faced with dissatisfaction: exit, voice, persistence and neglect, though only exit and voice can improve your situation.
So if you have some influence over the situation then speaking up may be your best option, if this proves fruitless then you can either work to improve your influence to create the change you wish to see, or it may be time to make your exit and remove yourself from the situation if you are unable to change it.
Ask for problems not solutions
How many times have you heard the age-old phrase "Don't bring me problems, bring me solutions"? I've heard this more times than I can count, mainly from managers at work. Adam Grant disagrees with this and says that by rushing to find solutions we miss out on the knowledge and ideas of others and end up with more advocacy than inquiry.
He instead suggests that when a problem arises it should be brought to a group of people to discuss and brainstorm ideas, before any one solution is decided upon. Just because you identified the problem, doesn't mean you have the best solution, usually the best answers come from a group effort.
This isn't something I thought I'd ever do, encourage people to criticise me. Something that I think will take some time getting used to, excuse me while I go build a tougher skin. Some really great examples were mentioned about how people have put this in place and the effects that it has had, and not one of them was negative.
We can't look objectively at ourselves, our thoughts, beliefs and actions, because we are too close to them, we need others to be objective and to let us know when we are wrong, or we could be going about something in a better way.
Constructive criticism is never a bad thing, when you receive it, think about whether you agree and if implementing this feedback will create positive results, if so then do, and if not then tank them and move on.
Emphasise values over rules
The chapter about emphasising values over rules was by far my favourite to read, it discussed the way in which people raise their children and the effects their parenting style has on the child's originality. It compared households where there were many rules with households who only had one main rule and emphasised values more.
The findings suggest that growing up with many rules encourages people to adopt a fixed mindset, whereas when the upbringing was more value based it encouraged the children to internalise the principles and values for themselves.
If, after reading all of this, you're interested in reading the book for yourself (which I highly recommend), click the link here to purchase the paper back, or here for the eBook.
Did any of these tips resonate with you? Let me know in the comments below what you're planning on implementing more of into your life to foster your originality.