Thanks to Seth Godin, who has has blogged about “the fear that you’re doing something that’s already been done before, that everything that can be done has been done.”
As I near completion of the first half of The Churning, I know this has been a worry for me from time to time. Despite the signals from the marketplace that the book is needed, the feedback I’ve received from these generous people about how valuable they are finding what I’ve written so far, and despite my own deep urge to write the book, still the fears occasionally surface.
So it is reassuring on the one hand to have Seth Godin reminding me that everything new has to some extent been done before. It is inevitable. (Even Isaac Newton stood “on the shoulders of [previous] giants.”)
And on the other hand, it is slightly troubling because I now have to ask myself two questions:
First, does The Churning pass Seth Godin’s test? Does it add “more value than a mere cut and paste”?
Here I think the answer is undoubtedly “Yes.” Other people have written about strategy and execution. Other people have written about finding inner purpose and true north leadership. But nobody, to my knowledge, has combined the two together. Nobody has produced an integrated set of practical scalable exercises for finding inner meaning, and combined them with flexible, wholistic/sustainable tools for applying that meaning to deliver outer results in the real world.
So, yes. It is much more than a simple ‘cut and paste’.
The second question that I have to ask myself is, does it pass my own test? Does The Churning help its readers to address the issue Seth Godin raises? Having provided the tools to create an inspiring vision, does the book also show its readers how to get over the potential hump of “Oh, but it’s been done before”?
Synchronistically, I am writing about this now, in the final chapter of inner leadership.
Seth Godin’s answer to his own question is: “Sure, it’s been done before. But not by you. And not for us.”
The Churning’s answer is similar, but slightly different. The Churning says it doesn’t matter who else has done what before. The question is as irrelevant as asking who else has worn shoes before, or eaten lunch before.
What matters, what is important, is that you have gone through the steps laid out in The Churning — you have done the exercises, and you have found the top priority that matters most to you.
If someone else has done something similar before, so what? Learn from what they did if you want to. And if it is useful, spend some time to get clear on what you’re doing that is the same and what is different.
But ultimately, whether or not someone else has done something similar before is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that this is your priority. So use the tools of outer leadership to manage your risks, develop your opportunities, and get it done. (Or if the risks turn out to be too high, reassess your top priority and get that done instead.)
Once you know what matters most to you, so what if something similar has been done before?
And after all, there were other search engines before Google, and other social networks before Facebook…
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