Sunday, May 13, 2018
Off the Shelf: Originals
I think I have a new favorite author. Just a couple months ago, I found myself reviewing one of his books, and I'm already back, reading another one. Writers who have the knack of weaving together disparate threads from diverse disciplines beckon me to a front row seat. Adam Grant has become one of those authors.
His 2016 book, Originals, has been parked on my husband's reading table, awaiting that rare chance to just sit and read. Since my unsuspecting husband was away on a business trip last week, I did what I've been waiting to do: cut in line before he could finish it, and picked up the book and started reading for myself—and couldn't wait to get back to read some more.
Psychology and its application in everyday life fascinates me. I can see so many applications beyond the typical business-world scenario portrayed in such volumes. Books like this get me thinking, "what if..."
In Originals, when I got to the chapter on procrastinators—it's called "Fools Rush In," but procrastinators have their moment of glory in those pages—I had found my reason for reading. I'm a procrastinator, so I hunkered down for the barrage of berating verbiage sure to follow the first page of that chapter.
I didn't get what I expected. Instead, I was treated to story after story of notable, creative leaders whose ability to park their ideas and let them percolate was what crystallized their genius. It's not necessarily a matter of procrastination—it's more about a great sense of timing. And allowing ideas to ripen. Who knew?
Admittedly, the thrust of the book—coaching those who wish to "champion novel ideas"—is better applied to the business world. But one can hardly be original without being creative, and it's that aspect of creativity which has always been a magnet for me.
Perhaps for those who have this inner drive to tell their family's story, creativity is a given. I find myself looking at the dates and details of an ancestor's story much the same as an artist about to compose a still life drawing—questions about placement, perspective, framing, lighting and shading all demand consideration before the first stroke can even be laid on the sketchpad. Perhaps that's why something in me balks about writing the next day's blog post before the last thing at night: the thoughts need adequate time to percolate before the first word can be written.
Adam Grant certainly has an engaging way of presenting his case—if you want to test drive his work, you can download a chapter of his book for free from his website—which is probably why I can't wait to get back to reading the rest of the chapters. But I don't just read books like this to fill my head with more knowledge; I'm in search of ideas that can be cross-applied from his world of business and psychology to my own activities. I find that what Grant mentions in his books prompts my own reflections, initiating a cascading process in my own thinking. When the creative chatter in my own mind goes silent, a book like Originals helps enliven that mental scene once again.