I just started a new book by Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist and professor at Wharton, called Originals. You recently may have heard of him because of his newest book, Think Again. (He has been on a big promotional tour. I heard Adam on Brene Brown’s podcast.)
Even though I am not very far in this book, I am fascinated by some of the insights. Let’s begin with operationalizing what originality is. Adam Grant says the hallmark of an original or non-conformist is “rejecting the default and exploring whether a better option exists.” (p.7)
Rejecting the default is the first step to innovating. In other words, a lot of us perpetuate systems and environments we do not like, or even hate, simply by accepting the status quo as unchangeable. “That’s just the way it is.”
John Jost, a political psychologist, found that people in “disadvantage groups consistently support the status quo more than advantaged groups.” Based on his findings, Jost developed a theory of system justification which hypothesizes that accepting “the default system serves a soothing function.” (p.6-7)
In other words, if people believe the current system is “just the way it is,” then they do not have to change it. They might not like the current system. They even may suffer greatly under the current system; however, by accepting the status quo as unchangeable, people excuse themselves from working toward changing it.
Interestingly, it is not just disadvantaged groups who are more likely to accept the default. Child prodigies also are more likely to maintain the status quo. While these individuals are extremely intelligent, they are no more likely to “outshine their less precocious peers from families of similar means.” (p.9)
Why, you ask? Because collectively our culture does not encourage originality. We encourage conformity. Child prodigies excel in the academic system. They are rewarded for achievements – not for failures. Prodigies get taught how to win at a specific game, and consequently, some of our brightest minds are stuck in the default system.
You know who tends to be the most original? The troublemakers. The students who drive their teachers and parents crazy. Who ask a lot of questions. Whose minds are always thinking of new ideas and who are highly creative. These folks are the innovators. Unless of course, they are suppressed by punishment, ridicule, judgment, and fear. (So, let’s not do that to ourselves or to others, okay?)
Based on what I have read so far, here are some of my takeaways. Feel free to print them off and stick them on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror or car dashboard as a reminder. Need a slightly more printer-friendly version, this one’s for you.
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where women could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Five years later, Kim is still in the flow of supporting and building a healthy, vibrant community and now guides retreats, teaches yoga, and provides one-on-one services for women who want an immersion experience into the life-affirming, Shakti energy.
Kim’s training as a therapist and yoga teacher allows her to safely and compassionately guide women on a heart-centered journey to Self, where women re-connect with their beautiful, authentic spirit.