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?