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Personal Growth, Make a Better World, Leadership Library

Leadership Library Selection: Originals

We all are unique, but society naturally leads to groupthink and living in the status quo. It's hard to truly embrace your unique ideas, but Adam Grant's "Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World" can act as your guide.

Adam Grant is a renowned organizational psychologist and bestselling author of books that delve into motivation, original thinking, rethinking, and realizing potential. Wharton's top-rated professor for seven years, he is acknowledged among the world's top 10 influential management thinkers and is the author of five books, including "Think Again" and "Give and Take."

In "Originals," Grant urges readers to break free from the norm and ignite their creative spark. The ultimate goal: to help you unlock your potential and become a true original.


Grant writes at length about letting go of conventional thinking and embracing your individuality. Especially for college students, this way of thinking is important as students are in a prime position to challenge the status quo, and are figuring out which way to pivot in life—what to study, what career path (and more importantly, what life path) to take.

This book acts as your playbook for doing just that. When you come to the fork in the road, rethink what groupthink is telling you to do and instead think about who you are at your core.

Grant introduces the concept of "originals," individuals who defy conformity, champion new ideas, and reshape the world around them. He shares stories of successful entrepreneurs, artists, and activists who dared to be different and made a lasting impact.

We're all different, we all have different backgrounds, different stories, and different goals—and we'll all be rewarded for embracing these differences and being our original selves.

Conquering Conformity

To become a changemaker, you have to change the way things are done.

However, you want to still play by the rules while bucking norms. There is a fine line between doing what you want and innovatively shifting how things are done. Grant advocates for outside-the-box thinking and taking a three-thousand-foot view of yourself. What this doesn't mean is a total abandonment of responsibilities merely to follow your passions. The key is creating a balance of realistic goal-setting paired with goals you actually want to achieve.

To further his thesis, he gives many examples of groundbreaking ideas that were initially met with skepticism and resistance. A good modern-day example of utilizing this original way of thinking is Airbnb, a disruptive idea that revolutionized travel accommodations. At first, people doubted the concept of staying in a stranger's home, but the founders persisted, challenging the conventional hotel industry and creating a global phenomenon.

Innovative solutions tend to emerge from this original approach, as Grant shows extensively, and—to every procrastinator's delight—he provides evidence behind putting tasks off to create better ideas and, in turn, better productivity.

For instance, Steve Jobs was known for his habit of delaying decisions until the last minute, allowing him to explore multiple angles before settling on the best approach. Taking the time to explore different perspectives—or to not think at all—can lead to more original and impactful work.

The important thing to remember when embracing your authentic self and working towards your true goals is that failure will come. But Grant assures the reader that "failure" isn't the right word—rather, it's a stepping stone to success.

It's all part of the process of becoming an original.

Key Takeaways: "Originals"

In his book, Grant writes about:

  • How originality is your key to a fulfilling career.
  • The power of admitting your weaknesses.
  • The importance of collaborating with a diverse group of people.
  • Challenging conventional wisdom to discover new solutions.
  • How procrastination is actually a productive activity.

Start procrastinating, rethinking, and leaning into who you are to build a more fulfilling and innovative future. Read Adam Grant's "Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World."