Originals by Adam Grant – Book Review

Gaurav Achpalea
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This book is a must read. Undoubtedly one of the best releases in the personal development genre. This is going to be one of those books you will keep coming back to. 

The book starts with describing two most common paths people often take to reach ‘success’. They are – 1) Conformity and 2) Originality.

It then clearly states that Originality ≠ Originals. What this means is – the originality of an idea does not make you an original. To be one of the ‘Originals’ you should develop the ability to see things differently and have the courage to live life differently. In short – if you want to make a difference, you should first be a bit different.

There is a common human tendency called ‘kleptomnesia’, which means unintentionally remembering someone else’s idea as your own. On the contrary, it is not a common human tendency to live a different life that is committed to an idea. This is the difference between originality and originals.

Grant then goes on to explain a concept that I consider to be the brightest thought expressed in the book. It is ‘Deja Vu’ Vs ‘Vuja De’. Here, the author tries to explain the importance of seeing a familiar situation from a previously unexplored perspective – Vuja De. Doing so will lead you towards finding new solutions to an old problem. ‘A change in one’s thought practise is essential to breakthrough tough times successfully’ is my incisive representation of this message.

“Practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new.” – Adam Grant, Originals

The concept of Vuja De was tested for its effectiveness with random Google employees. They were asked to perceive their jobs to be malleable and not rigid. Doing so increased their happiness and caused their performance to peak. After this experiment, many Google employees came to common realisation that they themselves were the ones limiting self.

Another noteworthy concept found in the book is ‘Achievement Motivation’. Adam Grant goes on to elaborate on this concept using stories of Michelangelo (Famous Italian Sculptor), Copernicus (Discovered that earth is round and not flat) and Wozniak (Co-founder of Apple Inc.).

Later you will find mentions of great names in human history viz., Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. The book describes them as ‘Originals’ for dedicating their lives to morals and principles that they strongly believed would be of benefit for the entire human race.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are listed in as ‘Originals’ for dropping out of university; for the sake of manifesting their visions of the future into reality. However, risking it all is not what all ‘Originals’ do. Many have played it safe and that, Grant describes works just as well too. Originals who have made a big impact while playing it safe are T. S. Eliot and Edwin H. Land.

The book is divided into 3 major sections. First section shares inspirational stories of many ‘Originals’. Second section documents choices that those aspiring to be ‘Originals’ should make. It talks about dilemma of timing and says being late is less harmful than being early. It also talks about challenges of coalition and explains how making enemies is better than making frenemies and so on.  Third section of this powerful read entails ways to first unleash yourself as and later sustain being – an original. 

“Originality is not a fixed trait, It is a free choice” – Adam Grant, Originals.


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