“You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.” -Adam Grant
Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist that has dedicated many years to study “the originals,” as he calls them, to later describes them as: thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world.
On his TED Talk called “The Surprising Habits Of Original Thinkers,” Adam share a fascinating fact about the truth behind procrastination and its correlation to creative thinking. He explains that many “originals” have their best ideas while procrastinating. This doesn’t mean that you are now going to start procrastinating for a living. But learning how to make this a strength instead of seeing it as a curse, can work to your advantage.
An interesting study also discovered that being the first person to have an idea, is not a recipe for success. After researching over 50 product categories they discovered that “first movers” who created the market have a 47 percent failure rate, but the “improvers,” which are those who introduce something different and better, only face 8 percent failure rate. Some clear examples are Facebook, which came after My Space and Friendster, and Google that came years after Altavista and Yahoo. “It is much easier to improve on someone else’s idea than to create a new one.”
During his research, Grant also realized there are two types of doubts: “Self-doubt which is paralyzing and it makes you freeze. And idea-doubt which is energizing. It motivates you to test, to experiment, to refine.”
So, the key to achieving your dreams and come up with great and original ideas is to dismiss all self’doubting and concentrate only on idea-doubt. The key is to stop second guessing yourself and just place that energy into improving your ideas. It is about being the kind of person that doubts the default, that questions what is already on the market and has the initiative to look for better options, even if it means to create that better option yourself.
One thing emphasized is that “originals” have fear as well. But what sets them apart is that even if they are afraid of failing, they are even more afraid of failing to try. They understand that they will probably have lots and lots of bad ideas, before landing a really good one.
“The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most because they’re the ones who try the most,” Grant says.
The more you produce ideas, songs, recipes and inventions, the more chances you will have of coming up with something extraordinary. But to do this, you also need to embrace the fear of failing and try.
For more on this topic, you can also purchase his new book: Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.