Recently I saw an interesting TED talk with organizaitonal psychologist Adam Grant. In the video, he discussed the work habits of original thinkers. Some of what he had to say really surprised me.
Original thinkers are not the first ones done with a project. Grant admitted that he is one of those people who starts working on a project the second it is handed to him. He mulls it over, the makes a list of goals and he gets it done long before it is due. People in this group tend not to be original because they get to work very quickly.
Original thinkers are not the last ones done. People who put off working on things too long end up rushing through things. The don’t have the time to weight the pros and cons of various approaches. They are late and they need to get it done now.
Original thinkers procrastinate at least a little. Why? Because before they get to work they are talking. They are thinking. They are doing a bit of research. They are gathering information, weighing pros and cons, bouncing ideas off people and playing with ideas. They aren’t going with the obvious but they aren’t in a mad rush either.
When I thought about this, it really made sense. When I brainstorm ideas for something, my first ideas are never my best. They are warm up ideas, the ones that I come up with while I’m trying to get my brain moving. If my goal is to come up with ten ideas, my last several ideas seldom contain any gems. “Good grief. I’ve got 7 ideas. Five are really good. But I can’t stop until I get three more . . . one . . . two . . . done!” At that point, I’m tossing things down just to fill out that list. My best ideas are somewhere in the middle.
Think about this the next time you start to work on a new project. The idea you come up with first may be adequate but you can probably do better. Why not give it a shot?