The following is from Tom Dixon, a really neat guy. More links to his resources are at the bottom.
I recently had a great idea for a blog post. I had it all worked out in my head. It was going to be awesome. About five minutes later I was checking my news feed, and saw that someone had beaten me to it. Not just anyone. Dan Miller, of 48 Days fame, had stolen my thunder. We had both evidently read the same article and had the same idea. He just got pen to paper a little faster.
I jokingly left the comment: “…you have to get up pretty early to beat Dan Miller!” Well that was that. The post was already written. That was going to save me a lot of time.
About an hour later I got a response. Dan knew what I was thinking, and prompted me to go another direction: “ Hey I’m an old “early bird gets the worm” kind of guy. But there are a lot of worms out there – so go for it anyway.”
There are a lot of worms out there. Go for it.
I tell this story not because it led to the creation of the world’s greatest blog post, but because it challenged my thinking. So often we believe we don’t have anything unique to offer. Maybe I’m the only one, but I’m guessing a few others are just as insecure as I am.
What is required is a new way of thinking. A way without limits.
Don’t be afraid to do something someone else is doing.
This was the biggest obstacle I faced when starting my blog. There are a lot of other career sites out there. Did the word really need another one? Why would anyone want to read what I had to say?
The truth is I have a unique set of experiences. My mix of challenges, successes, and failures is completely my own. So no one else can tell that story the same way I can. Just because someone else is doing something doesn’t mean you can’t do it a little better. There are a lot of worms, so go get a different one.
Don’t avoid something because other people are succeeding.
It’s easy to see those at the top of their fields and think you won’t be able to do the same. So why bother?
This is especially true when we view opportunity as limited. If someone else has to lose for me to win, then neither of us really grows. The truth is opportunity is limited more by our thinking than anything else. If there are a lot of worms, we don’t have to view someone else’s success as a threat to our own.
Don’t let a high failure rate scare you.
If you are working in your strengths, doing what you do best, it shouldn’t matter if a lot of other people fail at it. All someone else’s failure tells you is that he wasn’t able to do it. If you love real-estate, don’t let the fact that most new realtors fail in the first year stop you from trying. Just because most new blogs never make a dime doesn’t mean yours won’t.
When we avoid things that feel risky we give into fear. There are even more worms when others have trouble getting one.
I grabbed another worm
I took Dan’s advice and published my post anyway. My blog traffic was triple my previous best day. Was it because I was unique? Nope – Dan had just written something similar. I think it was because I knew it was a good idea and wasn’t afraid to put my unique spin on it. Even Dan can’t do that.
There are a lot of worms out there. Go get yours.
What idea have you given up because someone else already did it? Is it time you go after a different worm?
Tom Dixon works in demand planning at a big company, but don’t let that scare you off. He offers practical career advice at Monday Is Good and is passionate about doing meaningful work. Connect with him on Twitter or Facebook. Do you look forward to Monday?
Great post to keep perspective on our own direction and dreams.
Thanks, Ernie. Sometimes all it takes is a little different perspective to shed light on things.
Tom, thanks for this article. It is a great reminder that there is plenty of room for everyone who wants to get their stuff out there and connect with people. I’ll be honest–whenever I see another website or podcast on similar topics as mine, there’s a little part inside that feels defeated. But those of us who write, blog, do a podcast, etc. are into this stuff all the time, and we need to be reminded that most people are not trying to achieve things and make a difference. There is plenty of room for lots of books, blogs, etc. on similar topics because we all have different experiences and have something unique to share.
Thanks for your kind words. Sometimes we just fail to see how different the new blog or podcast is from what we are doing. My first reaction is usually to AVOID the new thing (because if I can’t see it, then it can’t exist) – but what I try to do instead is investigate it to see what I can learn and how I can differentiate myself that much more.
Very true. And we can take it one step further, which is to engage others who we may at first see as a “threat” to our territory. Then we become partners working toward the same goal and building each other up instead of working against each other.
Thanks, Tom and Jared, for this encouraging post. I am quick to think that I have nothing new to offer, or that others have already done/are doing the things I want to do. This is a good reminder to press on with our unique perspective and voice.
Exactly – no one else has the unique mix of experiences you have. It sure would get boring if we weren’t all unique!
I agree Tom that even though there is overlap you can make it your own and you should. There are too many people out there trying to be the echo of someone else and this won’t lead to true growth. People want to hear our unique voice.
Thanks, Kimanzi. Totally agree – I wouldn’t advocate trying to echo someone else, but to be your own version with your own things to add.
Great job Tom, looks like it’s been well received! You hit the nail on the head with the analogy and it makes total sense. I whole heartedly believe that we all have something unique.
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for having me, Jared. Glad I could contribute – love what you are doing.
Great story Tom!!! Being creative helps when it come to the writing process. I want to write a book in the future about leadership and how it relates to becoming an online success which several people have already written about that topic.
I really enjoyed reading this post!
I think you will have a interesting angle on the same topic, Dan. Don’t let all other books out there discourage you!
Thank you Tom:)
Love this post, guys. Featuring it on The Inspired Day on Monday morning. I think you’ll like the quote I’m including with it. I do! 🙂 God bless your weekend.
Sounds great Melanie. I’m always happy to see my name pop up on your blog!
Tom, it’s funny you mention this as it’s happened to me before as well. I’m glad you went ahead and published what you had created anyways. Your message may have been the same as Dan’s but your delivery is different and you reach different people.
Must be an blogging occupational hazard: post idea theft. I’ll quit when I don’t have anything unique to add – until then I’m pressing on. Thanks, Joe!
While I haven’t given up on the idea, I have been holding back on writing a book because I just didn’t think others would want to read it. I suppose if it’s relevant to me, maybe it will connect for someone else too. I am trying to convince myself, and some days I almost do. I am a pretry confident person, but that confidence seems to hide when I get to this topic. Your post helped push me in the right direction, I hope.
My best advice is to just get started. Get pen to paper..maybe slowly at first – but you will build momentum as you go. I wrote about this a while back – http://www.mondayisgood.com/kill-procrastination-today-by-going-small/ Best of luck to you!
Thanks, Tom. I actually write a ton. Just haven’t ventured into putting together a large project like a book.
It’s amazing how often we feel like the worm is gone. We’re fortunate to have boundless opportunities, if we choose to pursue them. Thanks for sharing your ‘real’ example as well as what you learned – it’s encouraging!
It is a different way to think, for sure – and I’d argue a better one.
Amen. Being the first is just one strategy, but it’s not really the most effective in the long run. The best way is just to be good!
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