Have you ever stopped to consider the value of an idea? Maybe you haven’t — at least not specifically — but I bet you have a sense for that value, and I bet that sense is inflated.
Or, in other words, your ideas are probably not as valuable as you think they are. They’re certainly not as unique.
In fact, many of the most important ideas that have shaped history were just as unoriginal as your ideas are. I’m serious. Most of them were thought of by multiple people at the same time. You can’t get much more unoriginal than that!
This is the basic premise of the Theory of Multiples — that ideas are ultimately the product of people + environment; that they’re inevitable.
Think of all the ideas in the world as one, big, unfinished tower. New ideas are continually being stacked on top of old ones, which are strong enough to keep the whole thing from toppling over. Every now and then, an old block gets yanked out and replaced, but for the most part, ideas pile upward. What you end up with is a tower that, at its base, is bigger and simpler and becomes more delicate and complex toward the top. Cool image, right?
So, now think about us, adding blocks to that tower. Is it any wonder that we’d add blocks to it, or that some of us might do that in the same way, at the same time? Of course not. It’s not like the inventors of radio (Guglielmo Marconi and Nikola Tesla, simultaneously, by the way), also came up with electricity, electrical fields, and antennae in one mega-idea. No, the invention of radio was a response to an existing field of knowledge that was pretty close to tuning in itself… so to speak. Or, back to the tower, a smaller block added to a bunch of bigger, stronger ones.
Ok, ok. So ideas aren’t that special. But what about genius? Well, aside from being somewhat subjective, genius — whatever it means — is certainly in short supply. That’s what makes it something we feel we must name. And, many big, important ideas have been attributed to people who simply weren’t geniuses, whether on the basis of speculating an IQ score of higher than 125 or simply recognizing them as uber-exceptional. Sometimes ideas come from reasonably intelligent people who just happen to be paying attention at the right time and place. Like us.
So why does this matter?
It matters because when you overestimate the value of an idea, you start acting in unproductive ways. You start hoarding them because you’re afraid they might be stolen and someone else might reap the reward that you feel you deserve. But hoarding doesn’t preserve value, it hides it. Maybe you’ve seen Hoarders? Great. In that case, it buries it under piles of worthless junk for so long that it rots and causes damage to other things. But in that pile are plenty of things that could be used. That should be used.
Being precious with your ideas will do nothing for you other than to stifle your output. It won’t make you the most brilliant blogger of all time. It will make you the blogger who blogged that one time. Blogging is meant to exercise ideas, not just to deliver them. In fact, thinking of blogging as simply an idea-delivery-tool is almost as absurd as saying that Michael Jordan was a great basketball player because of that one three-pointer he made mid-season in 1991. Ridiculous! Michael Jordan was a great basketball player because of the way he played, which included far more than those isolated demonstrations of prowess (and good luck). Michael Jordan was a basketball player, not a guy who played brilliant basketball once or twice.
You are in far greater danger of squandering your own ideas by not putting them into practice and/or sharing them than you are of having them plundered by some idea-thief! Sharing your ideas in the form of content isn’t about turning the idea into a deliverable. It’s about demonstrating the form of your thinking.
That idea you write down surely won’t be your last idea, and it surely will occur to someone else (if it hasn’t already) and be written down by them (if it hasn’t already). So why not put it out there?