Adam Grant was asked to invest in a small online start-up. Six months later on the eve of the launch, he saw the website incomplete, the team full of doubt, and decided not to invest in a procrastinating venture.
That venture was Warby Parker.
After seeing this procrastinating team sky-rocket to success (and turning all future investment decisions over to his wife) Grant began to research the phenomenon of Originals. What he found was shocking.
“Originals are non-conformists: People who not only have new ideas, but take action to champion them.” Grant condensed his research into three characteristics most Originals share.
1) Originals are late to the party
Grant did a study where he asked three groups to perform the task of coming up with new business ideas. One group was tasked with completing this immediately, another was given a computer game to play for 5 minutes before completing their task, while the third was given the game to play for 10 minutes. The results? “The moderate procrastinators [the ones who played for five minutes] were 16% more creative than the other two groups.”
“What you see with a lot of great originals is that they are quick to start but slow to finish.”
Grant realized that there’s a “sweet spot” between pre-crastinators and procrastinators where originals seem to live. Grant found that while “procrastinating is a vice when it comes to productivity, but it can be a virtue for creativity.” “To be original, you don’t have to be first. You just have to be DIFFERENT and BETTER.”
“Take Leonardo Da Vinci: he toiled on-and-off for 16 years on the Mona Lisa. He felt like a failure; he wrote as much in his journal. But some of the diversions he took in optics transformed the way that he modeled light, and made him into a much better painter.”
2) Originals feel doubt and fear
We all experience doubt and fear, regardless of our levels of creativity or confidence. However, Grant discovered that there are two different kinds of doubt: Self-Doubt vs. Idea-Doubt. “Self doubt is paralyzing; it leads you to freeze. But Idea-Doubt is energizing; it motivates you to test, to experiment, to refine.”
3) Originals have lots of bad ideas
The greatest composers in history composed hundreds of works, which resulted in a only few masterpieces. However, it’s important to note that we don’t remember the flops; we remember the masterpieces. Originals use their fear of failing to try to keep going and keep creating, even if what they create isn’t a masterpiece… YET. “The more output you churn out, the more variety you get, and the better your chances of stumbling on something truly original.”
What can we take from this? Grant said it best in the closing remarks of his TED Talk video where he dug into this phenomenon:
“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.”
What do you think? Do you experience Self-Doubt or Idea-Doubt? How can this relate to your passion? What gift do you possess that will create a better world?