One of my fears when writing is that I will replicate, nay steal, what someone else has already said. – “Come on, everything has been said before”, was what I was told when I revealed my fear to a couple of speaking partners at the AYE conference a couple of years ago.
Speaking of the AYE conference. AYE, or Amplifying Your Effectiveness (which is not about some personal productivity technique, but rather about discovering more about how you can use yourself to get the results you’re after in your work), was instigated by Jerry Weinberg, whom I know as the world’s greatest consultant. I’ve learned so much from Jerry: a lot from his books, and a lot from attending his workshops and speaking to him. Every so often, I just grab one of his books from my shelf and read a random passage. It always inspires me, and sometimes surprises me.
Tonight, I was both inspired and surprised. Rereading a random passage from one of Jerry’s loveliest books – Secrets of Consulting – I found that what I read was just what I needed.
The passage I stumbled upon was one about the value of “listening to the music”. In essence, this is about how, as a consultant, you need to be in touch with all your senses and emotions, because they can all give you useful information.
What fit me so well this time was the fact that contrary to what I remembered, Jerry was not the source of the phrase “listen to the music”. In his book, Jerry very clearly attributes this phrase to a person he calls one of the world’s greatest consultants: Nancy Brown. I had no idea who Nancy Brown was, but I was completely sure that that phrase was Jerry’s, and nobody else’s.
This finding comforts me, because it reminds me of something I know I knew, but that I keep forgetting: even great writer’s are inspired by someone else. Or maybe more correctly: great writers especially, are inspired by someone else. Either way, there really seems to be nothing new under the sun. The story one person tells originated with someone else. The originator learned it somewhere else, and so on.
So what have I learned? Nothing really. I already knew I shouldn’t be afraid to publish on the grounds that what I say might already have been said. I remembered this one more time today. However, I did something else too. I published this little text, even though I’m quite certain I’m not the first person coming to this insight. And guess what: I’m almost OK with that.