When someone else already has your idea.

One of the first things that will happen to you as you take steps to manifesting your dream career or as you head in the direction of your calling in life is doubt. We all undoubtedly doubt ourselves at some point in time. Yes, even Kanye! You will doubt, you will feel dumb, you will feel overwhelmed, you will feel silly. As you swim in doubt, a wave so powerful will hit that it may drown you along with your dreams. It’s the someone-else-already-has-my-idea wave. It can take on many shapes, but it may sound something like:

  • “Someone else is already doing this.”
  • “This product already exists.”
  • “This concept has already been invented.”
  • “This person is already light years ahead of me in doing this.”
  • “Someone else is much better at doing this than I’ll ever be.”
  • “Why would people buy mine, when this one is already out there?”
  • “My idea isn’t original and everyone says you can’t be profitable if you don’t have an original idea.”

It has happened to me many times. I have thought of a product and got super excited because I had never heard of it only to Google and realize someone was already making millions with it. Those products or ideas always died there.

R.I.P. Touchscreen Gloves!

But, what happens when you keep coming back to something you love? What happens when you feel it’s your calling, but someone has already answered the phone before you? What happens when the product has already been invented? What happens when the idea is already out there killin’ it? What do you do when someone is already being successful at something that you would love to do? What happens when someone else is already living your calling? I’ll tell you.

YOU DO IT ANYWAY.

Yes, you still do it. I’ll tell you why my advice is this and why I’m willing to disagree with anyone out there who tells you that you can only be profitable or successful at something that is original. I will use a simple analogy here to begin.

Elizabeth, Wendy, Tasha, Emily and Tom are all bakers. You give all of them the same exact recipe for apple pie. Do you think that all five pies will taste the same when they’re done?

If you know anything about cooking, you know that the answer is no. No two pies will taste the same because even though the recipe is the same, each baker has their own flavor. You, dear reader, have your own flavor. Do not judge or measure your success at something based on what others have done. Nobody can be you. Let me say that again: NOBODY CAN BE YOU. Nobody can have your flavor. Nobody can pepper the world with your unique pepper. Nobody has the experiences that you have, in the order you’ve had them, at the time you had them, in the place you had them. Nobody is you.

Let’s take this concept a step further. What would history look like if the following things had happened:

  • A young, black man sits in Brooklyn staring at a TV. He’s watching Richard Pryor perform and the crowd is absolutely losing it with laughter. The young boy is funny and he dreams of being like Pryor except he rationalizes that he could never be successful in stand-up comedy because there is already another black man out there doing what he dreams of doing.
  • Over in Louisiana, a young female comedian watches Oprah on TV and is captivated by the way the queen of daytime talkshows spreads happiness and joy to her audience. She thinks to herself, “how could I ever go from starving stand-up to living my dream of doing good things for others on such a large scale. It’s impossible. Who could even begin to dream of being like Oprah?”
  • A 5-year old boy in Indiana is watching Elvis Presley performing Hound Dog – those moves, that captivated crowd, that ownership of the mic. He knows for a fact that he’s small and that even if he tried he could never come even remotely close to creating moves like those or having people cheer that way for him. He turns the TV off and just goes on about his life.
  • At Harvard, a brilliant student logs into his MySpace. He thinks it’s an excellent social media network and although he thinks he can launch his own network he doesn’t because MySpace is already a culmination of his own idea.

If these things happened and if those people really believed that they could never be as good or original as the people they were watching or the things that existed, we wouldn’t have Eddie Murphy, Ellen DeGeneres, Michael Jackson or FACEBOOK. These are only four examples of millions. No, Eddie can’t be Richard Pryor, Ellen can’t be Oprah, Michael can’t be Elvis, Facebook can’t be MySpace. They’re not meant to be someone or something else. They are meant to answer their calling and take their chair at the table of dreams. Each of these people came to understand that even if it existed, that even if they looked up to those people, they still had something unique to offer in the space they shared with the people they admired.

Take your seat.

If you are swimming in an ocean of doubt about your calling and you feel small because someone out there is big, then aim to be big. You don’t drown, you look at the doubt in the face and you tell it, “It might have been done before, but never by me.”

And then you offer us your version of the pie. We’re waiting.

With love,

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