There’s a great editorial by author Adam Grant in this week’s New York Times that’s ostensibly about fostering revolutionary creativity in children. It’s one of those perfect storm type pieces that combines data and anecdote to build momentum and drive the reader to a seemingly inevitable conclusion, then casually opens the door to considering the implications of the research in adjacent fields. I found it super interesting as both a parent trying to do right by my kids and as a professional trying to build creative environments for myself and others. For example:
”When the psychologist Benjamin Bloom led a study of the early roots of world-class musicians, artists, athletes and scientists, he learned that their parents didn’t dream of raising superstar kids. They weren’t drill sergeants or slave drivers. They responded to the intrinsic motivation of their children. When their children showed interest and enthusiasm in a skill, the parents supported them.”
”Evidence shows that creative contributions depend on the breadth, not just depth, of our knowledge and experience. In fashion, the most original collections come from directors who spend the most time working abroad. In science, winning a Nobel Prize is less about being a single-minded genius and more about being interested in many things.”
Strip the parenting language and those concepts can be just as easily applied in a management context, which makes sense when you consider that Adam Grant is a professor at Wharton. And let me tell you: there’s no feeling in the world like having a NYT bestselling author and top-rated professor at Wharton write an op-ed that confirms some hunches you’ve long had on both a personal and professional level about going where your natural interests lead and the value of cultivating a diverse set of inputs and experiences. I mean, maybe the only thing better than that would be if the same person also wrote a piece extolling the virtues of procrastination. In case you’re wondering, yes, I instantly bought his new book.
If you’re the type of person who likes to have discussions, I’d be thrilled for you to read Grant’s op-ed and strike up a conversation with me. This piece really resonated with me – I hope it does for you as well. And if you’re the type of person who maybe just needs a little permission to embrace diverse interests, well, consider it granted.