Why Originality is Less Important Than You Think
If you’re anything like most aspiring mega-entrepreneurs, you probably spend a lot of time agonizing over content.
You have things you want to say and lessons you want to share that you feel can legitimately help other people to live happier, more successful lives.
But somewhere in the process of creating, it happens: The Doubt Monster rears its ugly head and plants the thought…
“Someone wrote a book about this 5 years ago.”
“You know so-and-so just wrote a post about a similar topic last month, right?”
And unless you’re an unashamed plagiarist, you start second guessing yourself.
Maybe you shouldn’t write about Topic X because someone did something similar recently.
Maybe you shouldn’t create a Product Y because there are at least a dozen books on the subject.
It seems like everything has already been said, taught, written about, and turned into a product. Why even bother to share your boring, old take on the same subject?
There’s a Reason Your Thinkin’ is Stinkin’
Once the second-guessing starts, it takes on a life of its own. “Who am I to say ‘me too’ and write about this?” You feel like you pale in comparison to the other people who have created similar content.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. We’ve all been there.
But you know what? It’s not even a valid worry. It’s merely a case of what Zig Ziglar would call stinkin’ thinkin’.
The reason your thinkin’ is stinkin’ actually comes from a good place: your integrity.
People who don’t mind knocking off other people’s ideas don’t have anxiety over the ethics of copying. They just do it.
But you and your integrity stew over it. It makes you feel almost as if you’re stealing.
How to Make Old Ideas New Again
Let me take that burden off your shoulders with one simple fact: There is nothing new under the sun.
With very rare exceptions, brand new, 100% original ideas are largely fictitious. New concepts are spun off of old concepts. Different perspectives and different experiences add new dimensions to existing thought.
In other words – you’re not stealing if you’re adding your own unique and sincere angle on a topic.
No one owns the subjects of sales, relationships, parenting, or fitness – and yet there have been thousands of articles, books, blogs, and products launched off of the backs of those topics.
It’s not because writing about sales, for example, is original. It’s because adding one’s own life experiences and perspectives to that “old” topic creates a brand new take on it. It allows people who didn’t get it before to finally have the concept make sense to them because it was finally delivered in a way that makes sense to them.
New and interesting perspectives on existing ideas are just as valuable as brand new ideas. Maybe even more valuable.
Why One Man’s Mind Trash is Another Man’s Treasure
If you’ve had experience in a particular area of life, then you have perspectives and thoughts on the subject that no one else has.
We all have a tendency to discount how valuable our experiences are.
For instance, I have a friend who’s a CEO. Not long ago, we were at a football game together and I mentioned a sales term in passing that I thought literally everyone in business knew. He stopped me mid-sentence and asked, “Wait – what does that mean?”
As I explained the concept behind the term, he lit up. He got visibly excited about it and said, “Man! My Sales manager needs to hear about this. This would really help us with our prospecting!”
And here I thought that little morsel was mundane and boring. I was wrong. It wasn’t mundane to him.
I had something inside me that could help his business – and I had totally discounted its worth. If I hadn’t accidentally thrown that term out in our conversation that day that knowledge would have never helped his business.
Inside of you are thousands (maybe millions) of thoughts and experiences that you think don’t have any value. I’m here to tell you that they do have value. Probably much more than you realize.
Not everyone knows what you know, and literally no one else has lived in your shoes.
Why YOU Are Your Own Best-Selling Product
In business, people don’t always want ‘new’ or ‘original’ or ‘cutting edge.’ More often than not, they’re looking for useful, helpful, effective, and sincere. They want to feel confident. They want to trust and rely on someone. They want you.
That’s why your unique take on an already existing topic is important. There are people in this world (more than you realize) who may never understand that topic unless they hear it from your point of view.
This means not only is it ok for you to share your unique take on the world… but it is your duty to do so. If you have the opportunity to enrich the lives of others and choose not to, you’re doing the world a disservice.
As long as you’re shining the light of your topic through your own lens, shine it brightly and unapologetically. Someone out there needs that light in order to see.
The Genuine Enthusiasm of Derek Halpern
The best example I can think of someone who has mastered this is Derek Halpern of Social Triggers. The guy has built a tremendously successful business and a hugely loyal following because of his unique take on what makes people tick psychologically – and how to use that information to succeed in business.
Sure, Derek uses information from his own experiences, but he also gets a lot of his principles from best-selling authors, professors, researchers, and other experts. That doesn’t make him a plagiarist. Far from it.
Derek condenses the complex and shares a simple, concise message to his followers in an energetic and entertaining way that no one else can deliver.
Hundreds of thousands of people have chosen to follow Derek because of his unique take on all those topics. Think about it – would you like to read a 400 page psychology book written by a professor, or listen to Derek conduct a fun, informative interview with that professor on a podcast – and then relate the message to online marketing for you?
It’s a no-brainer. Thousands upon thousands have decided that they’d rather hear it from Derek.
How I Found My Voice in the Very Last Place I Looked
Jeff Goins of Goins Writer totally changed my mind on a topic that I’d written off as “fluff” a while back – and my work has been better for it ever since.
If you asked me back then what I thought about “finding your voice”, I’d have scoffed and said it was something people used as an excuse not to move forward. In fact, I even wrote this in a guest post on a very prominent blog…
Shortly thereafter, I ran across Jeff’s explanation of finding your voice, and everything changed for me.
A hundred other people’s explanations of voice left me cold and unconvinced. But for some reason when I heard it from Jeff’s perspective it all made sense. I was so floored I wrote a post that week about my change of heart.
If Jeff had chosen not to put content out there about a supposedly tired, old topic – I’d have never had that revelation. I needed that understanding and for some reason I needed to hear it from him for it to make sense.
The World Needs Your Voice
Somewhere out there is a group of people struggling to make sense of something you already know, but consider old news.
To worry about re-hashing the topic or to dismiss it as common knowledge is to deprive those people of understanding and mastering something that could improve their lives.
The way you word your message, your past experiences, your personality, your age… your voice: They all add a dimension to your topic that no one else is capable of delivering.
Do me a favor. Take an inventory of all those things you know. Take a fresh look at all those ideas that you discarded because you feel like they’ve been done to death.
What can you add to them? What experience have you had that others haven’t?
There’s something you can add to the story.
So go add it.
Time to fess up…
How many times have you chosen not to put “your angle” out there because you thought it wasn’t original? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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