When a person says something like, “you stole that idea from me!” or, “you stole that idea from so-and-so!” he reveals a certain shade of ignorance.
You see, we’re all constantly stealing ideas. All the time. From everyone and everywhere.
This has been said elsewhere, but I don’t think I’ve ever had an original idea in my life. My guess is you haven’t either. You know what’s even better? It’s impossible to prove idea originality.
When I trace the inspiration for my own business projects or book ideas, I see who influenced me. When I take a step back, I see who influenced my influencers and I realize their influencers had influencers (and so on). This continues ad infinitum into the great primordial ooze or the Big Bang or however the Universe began.
Ideas are colliding with us each and every day, at every moment, in all places. Proving originality is like proving what bacteria microbe nestled into your nose hairs and gave you sniffles for a week.
Books, blogs, conferences, magazines, water cooler chats, TV shows, and social media are the likely culprits for our idea inspiration.
But ideas surface out of lunchtime conversations with our children, the gentle touch of a spouse, a trip to the mailbox, or a smudge on the bathroom mirror.
The only aspect of our ideas that’s truly unique is the fact that we are thinking them. Because there is no one else on Planet Earth who thinks like you do, when you think of an idea it is, by definition, 100 percent unique.
Further, if you act on that idea, it is going to be 100 percent unique in that no one is going to enflesh the idea in the same way you will.
It may be very similar to someone else’s (we share 96 percent of our DNA with primates, after all). But it won’t be the same because it won’t be yours.
“You stole my idea!” is the rallying cry of a person who wants credit for a risk never taken.