Original Thinkers

Innovation is often equated with paradigm-shifting concepts, monumental breakthroughs, and the development of products or processes that cause significant change in industries, art, or life as we know it (like these).  Innovators that produce a large-scale impact are celebrated for their extraordinary abilities and creativity (think Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, and these amazing women). Given all this, it’s easy to think that innovation is a noble pursuit, reserved for a talented few.  


While we should appreciate these types of dynamic accomplishments and honor the innate gifts of the people behind them, we shouldn’t distance ourselves from their ranks.  We all have an aptitude for innovation, and can learn how to develop the skills that will turn our ideas into successes, no matter how big or small.  

Organizational psychologist and author Adam Grant spent time studying successful innovators so we can recognize them, learn how to operate more like them, and by doing so improve the world around us.  He calls these innovators “originals,” and defines them as “people who not only have ideas, but take action to champion them.”

In this TEDTalk, The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers, he uses specific and entertaining examples to explore three traits that he’s identified all originals share:  

  1. They’re late to the party
  2. They’re full of doubt and fear
  3. They have a lot of bad ideas

Along the way he supports a common theory that innovation is the result of connecting disparate thoughts, and not always the product of a “Eureka!” moment of pure creativity.  He also points out that originals aren’t always “the first” in their field; improving on existing ideas is just as relevant as conjuring up something that has not existed before.  

Grant’s talk offers a brief and amusing introduction to a topic he expounds greatly on in his book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.  While it doesn’t offer a clear road map on how to develop and introduce the next headline-grabbing game-changer, it will leave you feeling capable of thinking like a big thinker, and inspired to act like one, too.  

What do you want to move in your world?


À la Carte

Find links here to unrelated yet thought-provoking content that has caught our attention.  Order it, share it with a friend, or skip it to save room for info you really want to digest.

Article – 4 minute read

How Busyness Leads to Bad Decisions by Brigid Schulte

When we’re under pressure our mental bandwidth narrows – and that means we focus on the wrong tasks. So what’s the remedy for unproductive ‘tunnelling’?

In this BBC Workplace article, Schulte helps us understand time scarcity (which is rampant in modern society), why we cram so much into our days, and what happens when we operate from a consistently full schedule. She also offers some actionable advice on how we can reclaim some much-needed downtime and achieve more balance overall in our lives.  Too busy to read it?  This article is for you, especially.


Article – 1 minute read

‘Imagine Pleasant Nonsense’ with ‘Strange Planet’ Creator Nathan Pyle

If this charming and hilarious cartoon has not yet taken over your Instagram account, you’re in luck!  Mr. Pyle has compiled them into a book!  In his popular series, Pyle depicts spot-on snapshots of super-relatable situations, while managing to offer insights on humanity, our inner worlds, and how we relate to one another.  Check out this brief interview NPR conducted with him, and if you’re not already in love with his curious and adorable aliens, prepare to fall hard!




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