We are obsessed with being original. We look at pieces of art, listen to music, and walk by architecture while marveling at their author’s ability to make something from nothing. Then we try creating something original in our own work or art and get filled with frustration at not being able to come up with something unique and original. The thing is, originality is a myth.
To explain this better, let’s look at what original means.
To be original is to be first, to be the earliest, to be the source other people copy from. Being the first to do something is so difficult we’ve come up with phrases like “there’s nothing new under the sun” and “everything that can be created has been created before”. Yet these phrases imply that someone in an age before us was original, after all, someone must have invented fire, soap, the computer and rock music. Although some inventions seem completely new, most inventions are simply the sum of ideas that existed before them. Charcoal, sulfur and saltpeter were all preexisting materials commonly used in alchemy and medicine before it was discovered that mixing them produced black powder, or gunpowder as we now know it.Read More
2020 has been a whirlwind of worldwide events, with the coronavirus causing nations to close their borders and slowing economies to a crawl. This year has brought high levels of uncertainty into our lives, with all the job losses, the possibility of getting COVID-19 and unknowingly infecting a loved one with it. On top of that the political state of the USA sparked a global conversation (including Nigeria, where I am). It’s a lot to process, especially as we try to stay safe and fight for social justice at the same time.
As a realistic optimist, it’s hard not to see all the pain in the world, but in this instance, we have a great opportunity before us. For the first time in a long time, we get to decide what’s important in our lives and in the culture we live in. However, it can be difficult to take steps toward creating a space for ourselves and our families while also being pushed by the zeitgeist, movements, and social pressures.
I have a lot on my mind and the best way to put them down is to break them down into three parts talking about my experience with being creative in uncertainty, staying true to yourself during a political movement and finding opportunity in times of crisis.Read More
Resistance is often seen as a negative word in business and design. We try to remove resistance as much as possible to make products and services easier to use, easier to buy, and easier to opt-in.
But resistance is a part of our human nature (or culture). We celebrate resistance, we tell stories and sing songs about it. Think back to your childhood, when you tried picking up a heavy rock (it could be a box or toy too). You bend over to pick it up (desire) and for a tiny moment you doubt you can lift it because of its weight (resistance). Then you feel some elation when you’re strong enough to lift it up, triumphing over the weight of the rock (or box or toy).
A large part of this process is in our subconscious and lasts only for a moment. We see this process of desire – resistance – triumph in our hunter/gatherer history, man wants meat, man chases deer, man gets meat. We also see it in stories like Indiana Jones – man wants treasure, man faces peril, man gets treasure. It’s everywhere in our culture and experience, so it’s what we expectRead More
If you’ve ever put on a watch and felt more secure, worn a pair of heels and felt more confident, or picked up a clipboard and felt ready to get down to business, you aren’t alone.
In a study by Hajo Adam and Adam D.Galinsk, called Enclosed Cognition, everyday people without scientific experience tested out wearing 2 lab coats while solving a problem–one lab coat was a real lab coat, and the other was a dummy made out of cheaper materials. When they wore the dummy coat, they did just as well as when they didn’t wear a coat. But once they put on the real lab coat, they immediately had a boost in their focus and attentiveness.
Todd Herman talks about the Alter Ego Effect, and how people have the ability to create new personas that are the best versions of themselves in specific contexts. Like Stefani Germonotta, a shy introvert who transforms into alter ego, Lady Gaga to perform boldly on stage.