Adam Grant is an organisational psychologist, and in his TED talk, he illustrates the surprising features of original thinkers, and teaches us how to be more like them. Speaking about ‘originals’, he says, “Originals are nonconformists, people who not only have new ideas but take action to champion them. They are people who stand out and speak up. Originals drive creativity and change in the world.”
Through multiple experiments and surveys as an organisational psychologist, he reveals he found three distinguishing habits of original thinkers. The first feature is that most original thinkers are procrastinators. He says, “Procrastinating is a vice when it comes to productivity, but it can be a virtue for creativity. What you see with a lot of great originals is that they are quick to start but they’re slow to finish.”
Secondly, original thinkers, too, have doubts and fears, but these help them to revise and improve upon their initial ideas. And lastly, Grant says, “If you look across fields, the greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most.” Throughout history, original thinkers are known to have thought of several different ideas, out of which a small amount were absolutely groundbreaking.
“So if you put all this together, what you see is that originals are not that different from the rest of us. They feel fear and doubt. They procrastinate. They have bad ideas. And sometimes, it’s not in spite of those qualities but because of them that they succeed.”
“Know that being quick to start but slow to finish can boost your creativity, that you can motivate yourself by doubting your ideas and embracing the fear of failing to try, and that you need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones,” he concludes.