Wharton Professor Says Procrastination Is An Incubator For Creativity

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Answers by Adam Grant, Wharton professor, New York Times writer, author of Give and Take and Originals, on Quora.

A: It's hard to know with anything approaching certainty, since I don't have the counterfactual-- I have always been a white male. But after reading extensive research and speaking with many women and minorities about their experiences, I feel confident saying the following: It has made everything I've ever done, or tried to do, easier. I have never had to deal with being sexually harassed or seen as too bossy; I have never been the target of racial slurs or prejudice based on the color of my skin. I have never had to prove that in spite of my gender or race, I am every bit as capable as others.

On this topic, Nell Scovell shared a brilliant article with me. I think it should be required reading for everyone who lives on Earth, and it's just as applicable to gender as race:


A: Wonderful question. I think the greatest originals break free from mentors earlier than their peers, because they're itching to start pursuing their own ideas and worried about doing derivative work. But I couldn't find any supporting evidence.


A: Reb Rebele coined a great phrase for this: be fast to start but slow to finish. Begin a task early, but delay completing it so you have time for incubation and space for divergent thinking.


A: Nobel-Prize winning scientists are twenty-two times more likely than their peers to perform as actors, dancers, or magicians. Why? I think part of the story is that scientific breakthroughs and performances require some common skills: focused attention, curiosity, and a desire to have an impact on an audience. For magic in particular, I think it's the draw to the element of surprise, which also helps with making new scientific discoveries.

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