Thanks to Seth Godin, who has has blogged about “the fear that you’re doing something that’s already been done before, that everything that can be done has been done.”
As I near completion of the first half of The Churning (on Inner Leadership) I know this has been a worry for me from time to time. Despite the signals from the marketplace that the book is needed, the feedback I’ve received from these generous people about how valuable they are finding what I’ve written so far, and despite my own deep urge to write the book, still the fears sometimes surface: what if what I am doing has already been done?
So it is reassuring to have Seth Godin remind me that everything new has to some extent been done before. (Even Isaac Newton stood “on the shoulders of giants.”)
But then there are two tests for deciding whether something is worth doing anyway.
The first is Seth’s test: does the work add “more value than a mere cut and paste”?
Here my answer is undoubtedly Yes. Other people have written about strategy and execution. Other people have written about finding inner purpose and ‘true north’ leadership. But nobody, to my knowledge, has combined the two together. Nobody has produced an integrated set of practical scalable exercises for finding inner meaning and applying that to deliver results in the real world. So, yes, my work is much more than a simple ‘cut and paste’.
The second question is my own test? Does The Churning help its readers to address this issue for themselves? Does it show them how to get over the potential hump of “Oh, but it’s been done before”? Synchronistically I am writing about this now, in the final chapter of Inner Leadership.
Seth Godin’s answer to this question is: “Sure, it’s been done before. But not by you. And not for us.”
The Churning’s answer is slightly deeper. Other people have worn shoes before and eaten lunch before and that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do those things. What matters is that the tools laid out in Inner Leadership will help you find the priorities that matter to you.
Once you know what matters to you, it doesn’t matter who has done what before. This is the work that is most important for you to do. And The Churning, Inner Leadership will help you to get clear on what it is and find more ways to put it into practice, more inspiringly.
After all, there were other search engines before Google, and other social networks before Facebook. Their founders succeeded because they did what mattered most to them.