1. Original Ideas Thrive On Volume & Variety

It’s by going through the volume of work that you develop skills to get past all those challenges and produce something excellent. James Clear

Mary taught pottery to two different classes. 

She told one class to submit one pot by the end of semester for grading.

“Make it your best pot,” she said. “Your final grade depends on it.”

To the other class, Mary said create as many pots as you can.

“Submit 100 pots and you’ll receive an A. Submit 75 and you’ll receive a B. And so on.”

Which class produced the most technically accurate – and original – pots?

Not those who produced one ‘best’ pot for grading. Instead of practicing pot-making, these students researched, sketched and planned.

The class that focused on quantity over quality created more original and technically correct pots.

By repeating skills, learning from mistakes and making pots their talent grew.

(Story source: unknown)

“When achievement motivation goes sky-high [like getting one good pot graded], it can crowd out originality: The more you value achievement, the more you come to dread failure.” Adam Grant in Originals

Babe Ruth broke three records in 1923. He was the first player to hit 60 home runs in one season and scored the highest batting average. 

His more unknown record?  

Striking-out more times than any other player in Major League Baseball that year.

Take-away: Create more in a set time. Whether it’s more ideas. More blog posts. More art. Originality stems from those who create more. Never let perfection hold you back from creating, starting, learning and growing.

2. Original Ideas Bloom With Playful & Passionate Obsession

“Leonardo da Vinci pursued studies of anatomy, mechanics, art, music, optics, birds, the heart, flying machines, geology, and weaponry. By standing astride the intersection of the arts and sciences, he became history’s most creative genius.”  Walter

Leonardo da Vinci didn’t spend evenings watching the latest reality TV shows.

Instead, da Vinci went to the local morgue in Florence and sketched muscles and nerves. Of particular interest to him: how cheek muscles moved the mouth. 

His sketchbooks, from 1503 to his death 16 years later, detail his obsession to perfect Mona Lisa’s smile.

Take-away: Expand your range of interests. Source ideas in novel places. Observe with passionate curiosity. Explore. Research. Seek the magic waiting for you in the least obvious places. Determine to have a playful obsession.

3. Original Ideas Expand with Improv

Martin Luther King and his speech writer, Clarence
, were still working on King’s now famous ‘I have a dream’ speech on the eve of its delivery.

As King delivered his speech, Mahalia Jackson – one of King’s friends, shouts: “tell ‘em about the ‘dream.’” (around 12 minutes in)

From this moment, King pushes aside his prepared notes (which didn’t include the famous ‘I have a dream’ line). 

He changes pace. And speaks from the heart. 

King’s improv is as smooth as a jazz player switching melodies. 

And in that moment creates history.

Take-away: Write the notes. Do the practice …then let it go. Get out of your head and into your heart. Let your passionate and intuitive voice rise.

4. Original Ideas Flourish Beyond Fear

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
George Bernard Shaw

Michaelangelo didn’t want to paint the fresco on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. He was overcome by the enormity of the job and thought himself more a sculptor. He resisted this work for two years until Pope Julius insisted he start.

Copernicus feared mockery if he published his discovery that the earth revolved around the sun. It took another 22 years for him to present his findings – and then only after a cardinal stepped in.

Steve Wozniak never wanted to be a boss, preferring his steady work at Hewlett-Packard. “I didn’t want to have big money ever in my life. I wanted to do a great engineering job.” 

Take-away: Stop sabotaging yourself. Embrace opportunities surrounding you. The thing you most resist is often the truth you need to face. 

Embrace fear. Challenge doubt.

5. Original Ideas Succeed With Reasoned Risk

 said, “Many entrepreneurs take plenty of risks—but those are generally the failed entrepreneurs, not the success stories.” 

Online store, eBay, began as a hobby. Founder, Pierre Omidyar, maintained his job as a programmer for the next nine months. Only when earnings from his ‘hobby’ became greater than his job did he move into a full-time role with eBay.

, of Spanx fame (footless pantyhose), invested her life savings of $5k at age 27. To balance the risk, she continued selling fax machines for the next two years. After fully launching, Spanx pulled in $4 million its first year and $10 million the next.

“Jobs are not static sculptures, but flexible building blocks.” Adam Grant.

Take-away: Don’t leave your day job until you’ve built a bridge to transition on.

Create Original Ideas

Original ideas grow in minds seeking variety, playfulness, obsessive curiosity, improvisation and managed risk. 

If one landed in front of you today – would you see it? 

>> Would you play with it? 

>> Would you obsess over it? 

>> Would you have the courage to follow it? 

>> Would you improvise? 

>> Would you balance reason with risk so you didn’t fret about what you could lose?

This is the genesis of original ideas.

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