A number of times over the past year, I have discovered entire portions of my website copied and pasted onto other people's websites. In several cases, the website belonged to a friend or to someone I'm relatively close to.
Each time this happens, I feel hurt and disappointed.
I always try to assume positive intent and remember that most likely, it wasn't deliberate or intentional. I acknowledge that very rarely is there such a thing as a "unique idea" and believe what Mark Twain said when he stated:
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
I believe in the possibility that it was a complete coincidence that we just so happened to create the same exact program and describe it in the same exact words and structure it in the same exact way.
When I inquired with a friend about one of these situations in the past, she apologized and said that she had been deeply inspired by my website - so she applied that inspiration to her own site. She didn't realize that the impact of her inspiration had been recreating one of my programs, word for word, and listing it on her own site.
I believed her.
She took it down.
We moved on.
I still consider her a wonderful person and a friend.
But here's the thing.
Imitation is the most sure-fire way to keep ourselves from our own truth.
As Oscar Wilde said:
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”
Imitation keeps us in a cycle of mediocrity.
Imitation keeps us from our greatness.
Imitation keeps us playing small.
Imitation is one path forward - we see it happening all day, every day, all over the internet. It can get us reasonably far and can lead us to a level of relative success.
However, originality is another path forward. Originality is the path that leads us to our greatness and leads us to our truth.
And often, in order to find our truth, we need to take a little break from all the inspiration.
Many of us fill our days with consumption from the time we wake up in the morning until the time we go to bed. We take a quick scroll through our favorite social media sites first thing in the morning. We pop in to read our favorite blogs throughout the day. And we wind down in the evening by scrolling through Instagram and Facebook.
When we do this, we fill our days with other people's thoughts, other people's truth, and other people's ideas. This leaves little time or space for our own.
If you feel like you might be a little heavy on the "inspiration" side and could use a bit more space for your own thoughts and own ideas, here are a few things to try:
Creation Before Intake.
Specifically, this means no social media or intake first thing in the morning, until after you have had at least 5 minutes to chill out and think and perhaps even write down a reflection or two. In addition to getting in touch with your truth, this simple habit will lead to more productive and easeful and spacious feeling days. Read more on how to create better days through better mornings here.
Self-Check: Is this My truth?
When writing or speaking or posting or creating a fun little graphic with a fun little quote you found online somewhere, pause to ask yourself: "Is this my truth? Is this what I deeply believe?" If your answer is anything but a resounding yes, pause. Step away and reflect. And come back when you know the answer.
Ask Yourself: Is Inspiration What I Most Need Right Now?
Sometimes it is. We are in the mood for some of those fun little graphics with fun little quotes, or to look at or read something beautiful online. And often, what we really need is some time with our own thoughts - 5 minutes to sit quietly, a quick walk around the block, or 2 minutes to just pause and breathe.
As Herman Melville said:
It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation."
And I would argue that originality and truth can never fully fail.