There are no new ideas. Embrace it.
For many creative-types, this can be a hard pill to swallow. Your ideas are not new. Sorry, but it’s true, every idea is a combination of two or more previous ideas.
So except for the first couple ideas on the cave walls – like maybe self-preservation, shelter, fire and tools (and even those obviously came from some other event or thought), ideas are borrowed and mixed and it is only the limitless combinations and the ability of our mind to map experience and imagination together into endless mashups, that we perceive things as new or original. You may have heard this before, no artist or thinker in history has become the master before being the student and learning the ideas that existed before them.
You see, something great happens once you accept there are no new ideas – you stop thinking you’re on the quest for something completely original. And you start to understand that you are a filter. A very complex filter, wired similar to others, but consisting of a unique combination of influences, experiences and perceptions that make you different than other filters. And so, your filter will mix previous ideas in ways that other filters might not. That is your originality. Your freedom to let all other ideas effect and change your ideas for the benefit of new ideas. It’s ok. There’s no other way to go about it. You must borrow from everything that has come before you.
We often think some individuals possess more genius or original ideas, but really those are simply mashups of all the same or similar experiences, interpretations and frameworks remixed, presented and perceived anew. Take for example, the talent of a young athlete, artist or student. They will each possess some limits created by our 99% shared DNA, added to that is their own experiences, which are then multiplied by interpretation and reformulated by framework. The result is the individuality or uniqueness reappearing as part of the process of perception. Both uniquely mashed up by each individual, but also uniquely perceived by others.
So take pride in your mash-ups. They are truly your only original creations. And although they are really combinations of other ideas, the world will see them as fresh and new.
And while embracing this view is liberating, there is more to take away from this than the fact that your mashups are your most original creations. There is also the counter-point that we are, beneath the unique filtering, all the same. And so our inherent understanding of what is meaningful and what is not, are much the same. We all do basically the same things each day of our lives. We sleep, eat, work, play and procreate. After that there is a endless list of experiences that we all share. From the colors of the spectrum, to the keys of music, to the smell of bacon or the sound of a baby crying. Then we share knowledge as widely as possible so that every individual uses many or most of the same references and subject matter to organize their thoughts and thinking framework.
There is no breaking out of the box – no escape from our sameness. Which means… and I know you’ve been waiting patiently – it means our work as communicators and persuaders relies on this shared sameness. It means you will know when that which your are communicating is powerful and universally true. It doesn’t require endless testing and surveys and focused-groups. No I’m not saying don’t test your work – there is value in getting perspectives and perceptions. But if you focus on the level where our most-shared experiences matter, it will lead to the core messages that make the deepest impact. And nearly anyone can tell you whether you’ve hit that mark – not just your ideal prospect. Usually you already know.
So trust your instincts and your shared experiences to help you find the universal truths that make us all react and respond. Then let your unique mashups reflect that universal truth in ways that will be perceived as big, original and new ideas.
Kent Land is a marketing and communications strategist, creative director, social entrepreneur and musician who can be found at brand67.com. Read other marketing and creative articles at Brand67 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
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