Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw
In this book Adam Grant explores what it takes to be original. It’s a compelling read that disrupts the conventional thinking as it relates to what makes anything unique and original. Adam’s research highlights how we can break conformity to generate new ideas.
I think the greatest message this book share is that originality is what helps individuals grow and society and the world as a whole continue to advance. Nothing new eventuates from accepting what is. There is no progress in doing what we’ve always done.
If we wish to better our lives we must challenge our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. If we want to change the world, improve the status quo and exist with greater peace and happiness accepting the problems we face will not solve anything. Progress will be had by rejecting the norm and thinking originally.
We live in societies, cultures, and households that request conformity and while conformity may assist to keep things in order and operating smoothly we know that it is those who go against the grain, break the rules, refuse confinement and importantly allow space, time and patience to contemplate the larger issues are generally the ones that have the greatest impact.
The shifters, shakers, and disruptors. They are the Martin Luther King’s, the Elon Musk’s, the Tony Robbins’ and the humble folks, the mums, dads, and children that can’t bear to stand by and watch issues remain that could be overcome. And so they stand up, they fight, they rebel, they ask questions, they dream and wonder “what if.”
“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” John F. Kennedy.
Adam explores many ideas that have had great success and those that have failed or become less prosperous. From an online eyewear retailer, Warby Parker, that challenged the expensive and often difficult process that was required to get subscription eyewear and won, to the less successful Segway that even Steve Jobs backed as having huge potential yet didn’t quite take off.
He reviews the lives of individuals that made major impact and change and the strategies that allowed their originality to win. Regardless of the scale of your intention, Adam shares so many stories and examples that there is an abundance of clues, ideas, thoughts, and practices that can be used to act on that might just benefit us and all those around us.
At the end of the book, Adam closes with actions for impact targeted at three groups; individuals, leaders, and parents and teachers. These highlight the main content of the book. Here are a few ideas that may benefit the individual.
• Question the default. Ask why? How can things improve?
• Triple the work, increase your ideas.
• Immerse yourself in a new domain. This is the power of diverse experience.
• Procrastinate strategically. Break, contemplate and give ideas time to breathe.
• Be open and seek feedback from others and seek a diverse audience.
• Balance risk across the board. Originals are not “all in” risk takers.
• Dare to disagree. Challenge your ideas.
• Make your ideas more familiar. People like familiarity.
• Manage emotions and direct them for purposeful outcomes not negative.
• Take initiative, take action.
Finally, I would like to close as Adam did because I think it again summarizes the benefits of his work. People that strive for freedom and happiness don’t embrace conformity but rather they challenge it. While such paths may be like trying to swim against the current and marked by constant battle in striving to make things better, they find purpose, fulfillment and happiness and when they succeed this strengthens that position.
“Becoming original is not the easiest path in the pursuit of happiness but it leaves us perfectly poised for the happiness of pursuit.” Adam Grant
If this book sounds of interest you can purchase Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World here.
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