You’re An Original

The study of creativity seems worthwhile but challenging. Creativity seems hard to consistently measure. Given is hard to assess what is actually creative it must be even harder to work out what drives creativity. Adam Grant tries this in Originals. I doubt his is the last word on the topic but it is worth a read.

One of the more interesting things he suggests is that creative people aren’t just risk takers. They manage risk in a portfolio. “Risk portfolios explain why people often become original in one part of their lives while remaining quite conventional in others” (Grant, 2o016, page 19). This gets away from the idea that people are either rebellious risk-takers, or boringly conventional. It envisages us as, I’d guess, most of us probably see ourselves, a complex mix of characteristics. I’m not 100% convinced by his supporting examples though.  Branch Rickey, the baseball owner who broke the race barrier by hiring Jackie Robinson, is one such “original”. Apparently Rickey not going to the ballpark on Sundays or drink alcohol was his conventional side. My main theoretical concern is this behavior could also be argued as his original side, Rickey didn’t go along with the general populace who probably drank and went to the ballpark on Sundays.

One of the more interesting sections describes the fight within the women’s suffrage movement over an alliance with the temperance movement. One message from this discussion is that tempered radicals are helpful, people who are able to make deals despite having a clear goal. “To form alliances originals can temper their radicalism by smuggling their real vision inside a Trojan Horse” (Grant, 2016, page 125). Some advocating for women’s suffrage were able to couch their agenda in terms acceptable to the more conservative members of the temperance movement.

I think most interesting point is that, given you don’t always need to be a daring/exciting/risk-taker to be an original we can all be one. It is a pleasant message that probably helps books sales.

Read: Adam Grant, 2016, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World, Viking