4 Ways Non-Conformists Move the World

Michelle Jones

Michelle serves as the Associate Director of Coaching and Education for the Career Development Office at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, where she supports all students in their career growth. She comes to Carey with 7 years of experience working with students 1:1, teaching courses, developing workshops, and managing large-scale career events. Michelle holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from James Madison University and a M.A. in College Student Development from Appalachian State University. She is a certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), CareerLeader, and StrenghtsQuest practitioner and is a certified MBA Career Coach through The Academies.

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What did Martin Luther King Jr., Michelangelo, Steve Wozniak, America’s Founding Fathers, and Copernicus have in common, aside from changing the world’s trajectory? All nearly let the fear of failure hold them back from being some of the greatest originals the world has ever known.

These are just some of the fascinating stories Adam Grant explores in his book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.

This summer, the Career Development Office started a professional book club and Originals was our 2nd book. In the spirit of a communal gathering, we each bring a few items to contribute to a large group salad, and virtually connect with our colleagues from Carey’s DC campus.

Book Club!Below are some of our key takeaways from Originals:

  1. Manage Fear | When managing fear, it is more advantageous to funnel that energy into excitement versus trying to calm yourself. When fear is looming and your blood is pumping, instead of slamming on the theoretical brakes to calm down, step on the gas and say “I am excited!” This will convert your fear into the equally intense emotion of excitement and help propel you forward.
  2. Procrastinate Creatively | When working on an initiative/project, don’t rush to complete it but embrace procrastination. Delaying progress enables you to spend more time considering different ways to approach solutions and lets you simmer with your ideas. This is known as the Zeigarnik effect, which states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed ones. Leonardo da Vinci benefited from this when he worked on the Mona Lisa over 15 years, while also studying optics and other subjects, which greatly influenced his most famous work.
  3. Maximize Odds | Thomas Edison invented over 1,000 patents, Mozart composed 600+ pieces, Picasso drew more than 1,800 paintings, and Maya Angelou wrote 165 poems; yet, we only remember them for their most extraordinary work. “If you want to be original, the most important possible thing you could do is do a lot of work. A huge volume of work.” Ira Glass claimed. When it comes to being original, the adage of quality over quantity does not necessarily apply.
  4. Create Coalitions | While we may feel passionately about our interests and principles, we cannot assume that others share our passions. When working to garner support for your idea, project, or movement, think about its inherent values in order to link your agenda with the values of prospective supporters. This was one of the successes of the women’s suffrage movement, when liberal suffragists gained the support of the conservative Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. While their causes were drastically different, they found an underlying value – women’s voting rights – and were able to change history.

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