A bit of a contemplative blog for you this week, which I hope you find useful.
I had a lovely weekend away with friends in The Peak District last week. It was super fun as always and while together we did a big walk which was just lovely, if not a little wet….thank you Abi-gale!
Anyway, while on our walk we went a little off piste and found ourselves on a wet and windy hill, with no path in site….the wind lashing down, people were getting more than a little soaked and the baby of the group was crying. I couldn’t the blame her, poor wee thing! Anyway, in our wisdom as we stomped through the field we noticed a flock of sheep who then proceeded to run/walk quickly away from us on a well trodden path towards what seemed like a gate at the end of a distant field. We decided that the sheep knew where they were going and so we followed them down the hill towards said gate which is where they seemed to be headed. I wasn’t complaining. It was a nice change from the mostly uphill we had done until then.
So, we followed the sheep through 3 fields to ‘the gate’ which was……a dead end!
The gate was locked. Aaagghhh!
It was too high to scale and the surrounding stone wall was covered with sharp barbed wire that wasn’t scalable but even more of a death trap in the rain. Also, interestingly, somewhere along our journey the sheep and our group had switched places. They were now behind us watching us trapped and trying to figure out our next step which turned out to be walking back uphill through 3 fields and finding a new route back to basecamp. Quite the detour I can tell you!
The picture below is an actual shot of sheep staring us down and I’m sure quietly laughing to themselves.
So, the motto of this story should be pretty clear. We did something that everyone knows you shouldn’t do. We became a sheep and followed the crowd, the result of which was we ended up in a dead end…wet, tired and dazed.
I’m not joking when I say that this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’ve been working with a lot of people who I feel seem to be struggling creating work whether that be products, services or writing that is truly their own. It’s almost like they are creating a version of someone else’s work or product? They are being more of a sheep and less of a leader.
Now, let’s be clear. I agree that there are really no new ideas….not really (remember the 1% difference rule). But there is a difference between creating and doing something from the heart, something that you truly love and are good at versus doing something because you have seen someone else do it and you want to recreate their success….otherwise known as copying!
Like I said I see people do it all the time from the poor students who have plagiarised work to those in the world of Coaching where everyone is trying to be Marie Forleo, with everyone copying her business model and creating Q&A Tuesdays!
Another really good illustration of this to me is something you see in any bookshop. Take the one I was in today in old London Town….
I took these photos in one of my favourite Popular Psychology/Self Help sections. Since mindfullness has become a ‘buzz word’ so many people have got on the Mindfullness-bandwagon, there are more books than you shake a stick at in that section. It’s the same for books about Happiness and the same for adult colouring books…not to mention the books about streetcats called Bob, Sam, Marmaduke & Peter!!!
Well, like us on that hill on that day in the rain…cold, lost and just looking for a direction it’s super easy in a situation where you are lacking ideas and inspiration to fail to think for yourself and just to follow the thing that’s in front of you. Maybe it’s the thing that inspires you. Maybe you are confusing your passion or admiration for someone and as the old adage goes ‘copying is the highest form of flattery’.
What we need to remember is that we all have something that we are good at. I truly, truly believe this.
I believe we all have something that we can do that makes that thing unique to us and if you dig deep enough and do the work, there are things that you’ll realise you do better than anything else you know and that might be your better path to fulfilment.
To find that thing requires time, searching, playing and commitment and yes, by all means look to others for inspiration. But to think that by copying, by being a sheep that you will find that long term fulfilment, happiness and success is misleading.
And for those that do consciously copy? Do so at your own peril!
You might just end up in a dead end with no-where to go expect back. Back to figure out your way out of the mess!
Till next week…
I would love to know what you think of this conversation starter this week?
Have you ever felt the need to copy someone, or maybe you didn’t realise you were doing it? Maybe it’s happened TO you, where someone has copied your ideas of business model. How did it feel and did you tackle it?