Why it’s good to be grateful when someone steals your creative ideas

It has happened to all of us at some point. You have a great idea, even an original idea (or so you thought) and someone else likes it so much they “borrow” from you – or outright steal. Your idea may show up as a variation of itself, or perhaps only key elements lifted. If you are fortunate, the other party(ies) may even thank you for “inspiring” them.

Think of the amount of money that is spent annually around the globe on trademarks, patents and copyright protection. When we initially get those “unique” ideas, whether it is a new business concept, book title, movie plot, and whatnot, we naturally wonder or worry about “what if” someone else will run with it.

Well, the truth of the matter is this: someone will. The World Wide Web will make certain of it.

This is something I have experienced in my own life — many times. No surprise here, since I am writing about it. For instance, during my years working in the PR industry, an apparel manufacturer took my concept for a PR campaign that I pitched to them, and although they did not hire our company, the concept – a hot and unique one – was used anyway.

In another more recent case, I was asked to contribute a short story to a book with a number of other collective authors. Apparently my story concept was so good, the authors decided to launch a book series using my concept, after I declined to be a part of the book. Nice.

And here is another truth: you have done it to someone, somewhere, too. Gasp! Yes, you have done it, too.

Original ideas are few and far in between. Some people would argue there is no such thing as an original idea. Since the minds of human beings are essentially broadcast transmitters and receivers — broadcasting and receiving thoughts 24/7 — our ideas get picked up by others and are then built upon, twisted, refined, modified – and it just grows and multiplies in this continuum. People latch on to trends and ideas that sell, and then tailor these to their own needs and flavour.

In the big picture, there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, if we were able to copyright ideas, creativity would be stifled.

So what do you do when someone steals your ideas?

You can choose to be upset or angry, or play the victim role. These emotions would be justified. But, perhaps there is another choice that is more empowering. Perhaps a change of perspective will do it – here’s how:

1. Discover where you have stolen or borrowed ideas from others.  So before you play the blame game, discover where you have done the same in your life. Where have you borrowed or even outright stolen ideas or creative concepts from someone else? Who would see you as having stolen from them? Once you identify it (and you have done it more than once), OWN it.

2. Be grateful. By being grateful for those people who have borrowed from or outright stolen your creative ideas, you can shift the negative energy and use it to fuel your own creativity. Thank them, either in person, or in your thoughts.

3. Stay focused on your creation. No matter what, you are creating something that is important to you and has value. If it is in your heart to create, or if you were divinely guided to do it, then it is on your path and you will reap the rewards of having done it. By staying focused, you will see your project or initiative through to the end and not give away your valuable energy to others.

By changing your perspective, you can harness your energy and create the opportunity to refine, modify, build-upon and improve your ideas – and make them better than ever. It is often said: “imitation is the best form of flattery.” So be grateful for others who have put a mirror up in front of you for you to see your great idea reflected back.

Shannon Skinner is an author, inspirational speaker, consultant, and creator and host of Extraordinary Women TV with Shannon Skinner.

© Shannon Skinner 2012. All rights reserved.