Sometimes, it takes a while for the best ideas to incubate into something original and beautiful. In this great new TED talk, Organisational Psychologist Adam Grant outlines what he has learned by studying “original thinkers”.
He outlines his research that suggests that between extreme procrastinators who leave their most important work until the last possible moment (which is an especially bad problem for entrepreneurs) and what he calls “precrastinators” who start work immediately and feel anxiety if they don’t feel progress, there is a sweet spot where the most original ideas are developed.
This is because it takes time for ideas to incubate and improve before they are truly divergent and original. If people start work immediately, their brain will use its energy to focus on the task at hand, leaving it less able to let ideas percolate in the background.
On the flip side, serial procrastinators might not get around to working on their ideas at all.
Notable examples of success he outlines are Leonardo Da Vinci, who took more than 16 years to complete the Mona Lisa from start to finish (including taking what he learned from his scientific study of optics in the interim), and the greatest classical composers who needed to produce hundreds of pieces of work to be remembered for a small number of outstanding pieces.
So don’t feel guilty if you don’t start working on your idea right away. It may just be improving in your subconscious. But just remember to get it done eventually.
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