Go ahead and steal it

The world is exploding with incredible people doing remarkable things.

Maybe it discourages you. Rather than marveling at a work of art you’re sadly reminded of the game you’re not playing. Maybe you resent them. That probably means you care, though. You care enough to shoulder the burden of responsibility to deliver your art to the world. It should help to remind you that talent and success aren’t a zero-sum game. Someone else’s greatness will never take away from yours.

But you just can’t shake that nagging question: Is there any room left for my original art?

The affirmative answer lies with one major precept. It’s okay to steal. Seriously. Everything that could ever be said or done on this earth has already been said and done. Real artists and innovators are comfortable with the notion that nothing they think or do is entirely original. Good artists merely recognize the things worth stealing and make them better.

The widely-acclaimed marketing expert Seth Godin readily admits he wouldn’t be where he was without the contributions of Zig Ziglar. And scores of younger authors have cited Godin’s influence on their work. Just because they learned from others that came before them doesn’t make their art any less remarkable. And it doesn’t make it any less their own.

All my experience and the suggestions people pay me to make are ripped off from people smarter than me (including the idea to say that, by the way).

Embrace your inner-thief and share this post with other people you care about. Heck, steal it and pawn it off as your own if you’d like. Whatever it takes to make the point.

Then go find something good and make it something great remarkable. Have an idea to do something awesome? Perfect. Look at how someone you admire does it. Find two more people, too. Write down things you like and things you don’t. Then create your art accordingly. Without breaking a sweat, it will be uniquely yours. You don’t need anyone’s permission and no one will call you a phony. Stop over-thinking it and do something. You’re the best in the world at being yourself.