Do weird kids grow up to be better innovators?
In an insightful article in The Atlantic, author Olga Khazan goes into facinating detail as to how strange children often grow up to be very gifted leaders of innovation.
Cool kids are generally boring.
They grow up to fit in, conform, follow fashion trends and collect Instagram followers.
But weird kids - the loners that don't have any friends, the ones riding their bicycles and playing with the dog instead of swimming with the other kids, the odd ones that read books in trees and build forts in the mud, fit for Lego armies; those are the ones that are adaptable and creative and innovative by nature and necessity.
In an insightful article in The Atlantic, author Olga Khazan goes into fascinating detail as to how strange children often grow up to be very gifted leaders of innovation.
'When Arnold M. Ludwig, an adjunct psychiatry professor at Brown University, examined the lives of more than 1,000 eminent people—including Frida Kahlo, Jean-Paul Sartre, and John Lennon—for his book The Price of Greatness, he found that creative types, such as artists and writers, were more likely than, say, businesspeople to be considered “odd or peculiar” as children, and more likely than public officials or soldiers to be considered “different” as adults. In his 1962 study of architects, the psychologist Donald W. MacKinnon similarly found that the families of more creative architects had moved around a lot when they were kids, which appeared “to have resulted frequently in some estrangement of the family from its immediate neighborhood,” he said. Not surprisingly, many of the more creative architects said they’d felt isolated as children.'
'People who don’t fit neatly into a particular group have been found, over and over, to perform better at outside-the-box thinking. Foreigners are often considered strange, but there are psychological advantages to feeling like a stranger. Children who are exposed to multiple languages—perhaps because, like me, they were raised in a country far from where they were born—are better able to understand an adult’s perspective, and they may go on to become better communicators overall. In one experiment, people who had lived abroad were especially good at finding hidden solutions to word and conceptual problems. That might help explain why Pablo Picasso began experimenting with Cubism in Paris, and George Frideric Handel composed his Messiah while living in England.'
The irony is that odd people are not often hired as innovators by companies and therefore seldom get the chance to shine, outside of living in the own world of art and poetry.
The rest of the article is well worth your time to read.
These extracts and the article are take from the book Weird: The power of being an outsider in an insider's world - Amazon