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You’re An Original

The study of creativity seems worthwhile but challenging. Creativity seems hard to consistently measure. Given it 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. What is the message: You’re An Original.

The Risk Portfolio

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, 2016, 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 drinking 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.

Be Radical, Just Try Not To Let People Know

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. These are 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.

Don’t Make Radical Change Seem Too Scary To People

You’re An Original

I think most interesting point is that you don’t always need to be a daring/exciting/risk-taker to be an original. We can all be an original. It is a pleasant message. It is likely true. And it probably helps books sales. What’s not to like?

For more on risk see here.

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

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