Working in a creative discipline and being a creator of things, I often hear people talking about how other people steal their ideas. I mean, yeah, I know–it sucks when people take your ideas and pass them off as their own. Even as someone who doesn’t especially like the limelight, I appreciate it when ONE person, ANYONE thanks me and then credits me for suggesting something ingenious! We all do! It’s natural to want even the smallest bit of recognition and a thank you for something brilliant we do.
But then I remember, that sometimes the idea is more important than all the recognition and credit in the world. Because the thing I want more than anything else is to impact someone in a meaningful way. And if my idea has helped them learn and grow and realize something important, I want that message to spread so that others can learn and grow and realize something important from it. And as that spreads and becomes epidemic, there is something really great about quietly knowing that you influenced someone to get the idea out there and see the ripple effect of that idea. Because only brilliant ideas are stolen and made into something near a phenomena. And imagine that–you were the person who came up with it. Can’t there be quiet satisfaction in knowing that?
Whenever I have these conversations, with others and myself, I always go back to the examples that help me remember that our goal shouldn’t be to try to be the best and brightest at whatever we do and hoard our ideas. But that we should aspire to be the person that others listen to and feel inspired by to do more amazing things on their own. And I remember that it’s not what I do directly but the net positive that comes out of what I put out into the world.
Point in case is Milton Glaser’s I love NY logo. Glaser did the work pro-bono, thinking the campaign would last a month or two. Today, people around the world know the logo–but almost no one who encounters an I love NY shirt, keychain, or mug realizes or give credit to Glaser as the designer. But beyond the credit consider how WIDESPREAD that IMPACT has been over a LONG ASS PERIOD OF TIME in creating pride for that city… And other cities!
So share your ideas. Spread them wide and far. Although you might not always get credit for them, you can know that you were a source of brilliance.