Did you know that “Yesterday” by the Beatles is the most covered song of all-time? Funny thing is, it was almost never written.
The Beatles almost left it off the album “Help!” because it only featured Paul and didn’t really fit with the rest of their catalogue. Even before that, Paul thought he had ripped off the chord progression and melody from someone else. He heard it in a dream of his one night and woke up and thought for sure it was a melody he’d heard before.
For weeks, the Beatles did nothing with the melody except make up funny lyrics. Like the opening line, “Scrambled eggs… oh my baby how I love your legs.” After a while, Paul finally accepted that the melody was all his and wrote out the song we all know and love. (And maybe have cried while listening to. I mean… what?)
Usually, the exact opposite of that story happens to me. I get an idea that I think is completely original, only to get on the internet for two seconds and find out that 90 other people already had the same idea, and sometimes even the same name for it. It’s always a nice way to kill the wind in my sails. Maybe you can relate.
Do you remember the days before the Internet? They were pretty amazing. You could have an idea and there was a chance that no one around you had thought of it. You could even just for a moment feel original. Apparently, though, this feeling of being unoriginal has been around for a few thousand years.
Most people believe King Solomon wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes. Somewhere in the 900s B.C., King Solomon wrote, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new’?” If you’re trying to have a completely original idea, you might be out of luck.
I fear that many people let the Internet stop them from doing something truly great. They see that someone else has done it and they think that it doesn’t need to be done again. I do it, too.
But what I’m coming to realize is that it’s ok to not have a completely new idea or concept. God made me the only me. You are the only you. Each of us is an original person, and when original people do unoriginal ideas, it becomes a sort of new-original in itself.
How many 3rd grade teachers are there in the world? Thousands. But you needed your own 3rd grade teacher to teach you in their own way and speak directly to you.
Has anyone written a blog before? Of course. But you’re reading this one right now.
This massive world gives us plenty of room to be unoriginally original. Each person you come in contact with every day is a life worth impacting. It’s a life worth investing in. You may have read every single book on leadership, but your cube-mate may not have read any, and they may need you to share what you’ve been learning, even if so many others have already taught the same lessons before.
I’m not telling you rip off other people’s ideas or plagiarize, but we can’t let thoughts like “It’s been done before,” and “He’s way better than me at this” get in the way of us producing something that someone might need to hear, read, or see from us.
You don’t have to be completely original, you just have to do it and put your spin on it. People might be more open to it than you’d think.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a list I came up with just off the top of my head of ideas that have been done and redone that no one seemed to care about.
TV comedies about a family with a wacky husband
The Honeymooners, All in the Family, The Cosby Show, Home Improvement, Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, According to Jim, Modern Family
TV comedies about young people trying to figure out their love lives
Friends, Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother, New Girl
Top 40 bands I can’t tell apart (ie. “Dude Rock”)
Creed, Alter Bridge, Hinder, Daughtry, Nickleback
The lists go on. And again, I’m not saying be copycat. I’m definitely not saying be anything like Nickleback. I’m just saying don’t be afraid to try something that is new to you even if someone on the Internet already is doing their version of it.
You are the only you.