Are You An Original?
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
Recently I read a compelling new book: Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World (Viking, 2016) by New York Times bestselling author Dr. Adam Grant of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
In it Grant says: “The Declaration of Independence promises Americans the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In the quest for happiness, many of us choose to enjoy the world as it is. Originals embrace the uphill battle, striving to make the world what it could be. By struggling to improve life and liberty, they may temporarily give up some pleasure, putting their own happiness on the back burner. In the long run, though, they have the chance to create a better world …”
Originals offers inspiring examples of people who innovated to create a better world from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Jackie Robinson, Steve Jobs and many more. It challenges our thinking on what it means to be original and offers suggestions on how we as leaders can better generate and champion original ideas. The key message of the book is that we can all think originally and inspire positive change in our organizations. With research, data and memorable examples Grant offers creative new ways to consider the process of innovation and idea generation. He also offers ways to recognize and overcome anxieties that hinder original thinking and risk taking. Learn what causes groupthink and how to avoid it. Learn how age does not have to impact originality. Why being a pioneer with an idea does not always net the best long-term results. Learn the power of timing. Why procrastination is not always bad. Learn how siblings, parents, and mentors nurture originality. All this and much more.
The evidence suggests that social bonds don’t drive groupthink; the culprits are overconfidence and reputational concerns.To sustain our originality as we age and accumulate expertise, our best bet is to adopt an experimental approach.
It is my view that as Christians we should be the most “original” group of people as we steward our influence and originality as co-creators made in the image of God. In a very real sense, God created us to be creative. Christian nonprofit leaders tend to be originals who “embrace the uphill battle, striving to make the world what it could be.” We serve a creative God who has equipped us with the ability to innovate, take risks for the Kingdom, and boldly pursue God’s calling for our lives and our organizations. As Christian leaders we may not be “originals who move the world forward” but more so originals who partner with God in advancing His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. The Christian leaders and ministries changing the world in our time embrace original thinking: whether it’s innovative ways to help people find and follow God worldwide; new approaches to church formation like online campuses and micro campuses/house campuses; new approaches for rescuing those who have been enslaved or trafficked; creative ways to spur micro-enterprise in the poorest reaches of our world or new paradigms on how to equip the next generation of Christian leaders.
Actions for Impact (To learn more about these actions pick up a copy of the book)
A. Generating and Recognizing Original Ideas
- Question the default.
- Triple the number of ideas you generate.
- Immerse yourself in a new domain.
- Procrastinate strategically. When you’re generating new ideas, deliberately stop when your progress is incomplete.
- Seek more feedback from peers.
B. Voicing and Championing Original Ideas
- Balance your risk portfolio.
- Highlight the reasons not to support your idea. Start by describing the three biggest weaknesses of your idea and then ask them to list several more reasons not to support it.
- Make your ideas more familiar.
- Speak to a different audience.
- Be a tempered radical.