If you are an avid reader, you will understand that every once in a while, you read a book that lights a fire in you. I read both science fiction and non-fiction, but this happens regardless of classification. Originals is one of those books for me. It was full of a-ha moments and inspiration. I felt “the Shift”. The sublime feeling when your viewpoint shifts or expands ever so slightly, and things snap into focus. This review of the Originals by Adam Grant is meant to inform, but I can only hope that if you like what you read that you buy the book. There is so much I could not include in the review.
The book takes a look at what makes an Original. An Original is someone who brings to fruition a novel thought or concept. The social science of being an Original is fascinating, and the conclusions are not necessarily what you would expect. Grant discusses examples of Originals in entertainment, business, and the military. It makes sense that people who blindly accept the status quo and existing ideas are not the ones that generate original thought. It comes from those who question everything. However, Originals are not the adrenaline junkies you would expect. They are risk-takers but do not take risks for risk’s sake. Originals are more likely to be seen as moderate and risk-averse. When they do take risks, they are mitigated and planned carefully.
Most of us like to think of ourselves as fairly intelligent. Intelligence comes with it an innate sense of wonder and desire to explore. It is in this sense that I believe we question everything. Literally, I do not question everything, but when faced with important things I can offer up an alternative point of view. The point is that we don’t all have to be Steve Jobs to have original ideas. All you need is the drive to explore and be open to seeing things differently.
The second component to be an Original is the need to take risks. The strength to step outside of your comfort zone does not mean taking unnecessary risks. The extent of the risk depends on you. If you want to be a writer but need to pay the bills, find a day job. Some people work better from financial rock bottom, but if you have a family to support, challenging yourself in that way is not an option. Do what works best for you and your situation.
Mr. Grant goes on to discuss actions you can take individually toward becoming an Original. The action that resonated most with me was not to calm down. Have you ever been in a situation when you were scared and tried to calm yourself down? If you take deep breaths, you are calmer while taking deep breaths, but it never lasts. Instead of trying to calm yourself down, redirect your anxiety to excitement. It switches to positive energy and empowers you to regain control. It is so simple and very effective.
Originals is an excellent read for anyone who wants to generate their own original ideas and for those in leadership roles or parents and teachers who want to foster originality in others. Mr. Grant helps empower the original in all of us. Whether you want to change the world or make life a little easier, the book includes steps to get you there.