3/29/2016: Plenty

A reminder that our ideas and creativity are not finite! $25 giclee print available at the Made Vibrant Art Shop.

Today I came across a blog post that made my heart sink. The post was teaching a concept that I had coined a few years ago, one that I teach exclusively inside the Better Branding Course, and it was written by a student who had been through the course, outlining the exact steps I go through in two of my course lessons.

I spent a crazy amount of time and care in constructing the course curriculum to make it clear and to put my unique spin on the process of branding, so I’ll be honest, to see the idea being taught on another person’s blog for free sent me into a mini tail-spin filled with all sorts of emotions. First the sting, of course. The bruised ego saying “That is MINE.” Then the “I have to get to the bottom of this” mentality of wanting to assign blame. Then the pain of feeling like this thing I was so proud of, this concept I (naively) felt was somehow truly original, had been taken from me. And then this final realization: NOTHING is truly original. We’re all cross-pollinating and remixing and putting our own spin on things — that’s the nature of the idea economy. So then, why did it hurt so much?  

My conclusion: My feelings of hurt were coming from a place of SCARCITY. The hurt that accompanies “someone stole this” is predicated on the false fear that my knowledge or my expertise or my creativity is FINITE. That I’ll somehow run out or something, so it feels scary to have an idea taken away. But if I’ve proven anything to myself over the years it’s that there are always more ideas waiting to be born, and I know deep in my heart that WHAT you say is only a small piece of the pie; the more important parts are HOW you say it and WHY you say it.

For the record, I don’t think this person shared my ideas in a malicious way. I think they learned something that helped them and they wanted to share it with others. But the lesson I want to share today is less about the ownership of ideas and more about the FEAR I felt the moment I saw one slipping away from me.

Today I’m reminding myself (and YOU!) that our ideas and creativity are not finite. I’m emerging from my mini tail-spin with this one simple mantra when I feel myself believing in the false scarcity of ideas: there’s PLENTY more where that came from.

**As an aside, let me be clear: taking someone’s work and sharing it as your own without putting your spin on it or sharing anything additional to it is just not okay and I’m asking anyone out there to please think twice before ever going down this road. It doesn’t matter if you tweak the wording — if it’s the same exact concept with no additional synthesis or analysis or perspective on it, it’s just simply not right. It’s a slippery slope with information abounding out there, but that isn’t an excuse not to stand up for ourselves as content creators and, ultimately, as teachers.