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Fighting Conformity and Fostering Originality

In Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, Adam Grant acts as a masterful guide to sparking creativity and change. A professor and expert on finding motivation and meaning in life, Grant has been recognized as one of the world’s 10 most influential management thinkers by Thinkers50. He also made Fortune’s list of 40 under 40. Originals, a New York Times bestseller, was released in 2016 and has acted as an effective guide for leaders and teachers nationwide.


In Originals, Grant addresses the idea of changing the world by becoming original and saying goodbye to conformity and outdated traditions. There’s an obvious challenge to originating new ideas, policies, and practices without risk, but he stresses the importance of championing new ideas that go against the grain.


The stories included in Originals will leave you feeling inspired and motivated—no matter your field. Grant includes stories about an entrepreneur who pitches his start-ups by naming reasons not to invest, a woman under Steve Jobs at Apple who challenged him anyway, an analyst who overturned a secrecy rule at the CIA, a financial guru who fires employees when they fail to critique him, and a television executive who saved Seinfeld from being cut but had no prior comedy experience. From these stories, you’ll learn that success doesn’t always come in all areas, but broadening your perspective and stepping out of your comfort zone can make you more predisposed to success, satisfaction, and innovation.


For instance, Grant introduces the idea of middle status conservatism, or middle level mediocrity. This becomes an issue when you are too familiar and comfortable in your field and lose creativity. Middle management often suffers from this, while those at the top and bottom rungs of the ladder are more likely to avoid conforming.


Grant offers a unique, unexpected perspective—touting artistic pursuits that will encourage innovation in other areas and noting the benefits of procrastination (it triggers creative and productive results because it lets the brain process a problem or project right up until the deadline). He doesn’t just stop at adults, either. He uses his teaching expertise to discuss the merits of teaching children to foster a sense of originality.


These stories and studies will teach you to explore different ideas, understand when they are good, and recognize when they should be acted on. Many people struggle with speaking up for fear of being shut down, but Originals will teach you how to effectively speak up and build a team of allies that will support you.


As an executive and CEO, what are you doing to be “original” in your thinking? Many have found our coaching assistance to help develop such thinking and action.

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