Three surprising things ‘originals’ have to drive creativity, change the world

In his TED talk on creativity, psychologist Adam Grant shares three surprising things he learned about people he terms “originals”: nonconformists, who not only have new ideas but push those ideas through to completion.

Originals, Grant says, “drive creativity and change the world.”

But are they superhuman? Born gifted? No, and no. Grant assures that “originals” are like everyone else in three key ways. Originals procrastinate, doubt and fear, and have bad ideas.


Originals are “late to the party,” Grant says. Original thinkers often procrastinate, and the procrastination period may be essential for mulling over ideas.

The trick, Grant says, is to find the sweet-spot. “Precastinators,” Grant reports, are less creative, but those who leave their work up until the very last minute, are too anxious to generate original ideas. Procrastinating moderately, however, leads to creativity.

Doubt and fear

Grant says that originals “feel the same fear and doubt that most of us do.” Where originals differ, is in their creative process. Grant outlines the following steps of the creative process:

  1. This is awesome.
  2. This is tricky.
  3. This is crap.
  4. I am crap.
  5. This might be okay.
  6. This is awesome.

The difference between originals and most of us, is that they are able to skip the jump from step 3 to 4.

The originals’ creative process instead looks something like the following diagram: 







Have bad ideas

Originals are not immune to bad ideas. Rather, Grant says, the “greatest originals” are the ones who fail the most. Through generating many ideas, some of which are bad, you are more likely to land on something truly original.

For the full TED talk (and to find out why which browser you use indicates your level of commitment to a job) click below:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.