Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Shannon Skinner

GET UPDATES FROM Shannon Skinner
 

If Someone Steals Your Idea, Be Flattered

Posted: 12/10/2012 12:18 pm

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 or parties 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 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 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 that "imitation is the best form of flattery." So be grateful for others who have put a mirror in front of you for you to see your great idea reflected back.

This article originally appeared at www.ShannonSkinner.com.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Good For Teens' Mental Health

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/11/gratitude-teens-happier_n_1749118.html">Grateful teens are happier</a>, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association this year. Researchers also found that teens who are grateful -- in the study, defined as having a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/11/gratitude-teens-happier_n_1749118.html">positive outlook on life</a> -- are more well-behaved at school and more hopeful than their less-grateful peers. "More gratitude may be precisely what our society needs to raise a generation that is ready to make a difference in the world," study researcher Giacomo Bono, Ph.D., a psychology professor at California State University, said in a statement.

  • Boosts Well-Being

    Being constantly mindful of all the things you have to be thankful for can boost your well-being, research suggests. In a series of experiments detailed in a 2003 study in <a href="http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/pdfs/GratitudePDFs/6Emmons-BlessingsBurdens.pdf">the <em>Journal of Personality and Social Psychology</em></a>, daily exercise practices and listing off all the things you are thankful for are linked with a brighter outlook on life and a greater sense of positivity. "There do appear to exist benefits to regularly <a href="http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/pdfs/GratitudePDFs/6Emmons-BlessingsBurdens.pdf">focusing on one's blessings</a>," the researchers wrote in the study. "The advantages are most pronounced when compared with a focus on hassles or complaints, yet are still apparent in comparison with simply reflecting the major events in one’s life, on ways in which one believes one is better off than comparison with others, or with a control group."

  • Linked With Better Grades

    Grateful high-schoolers have <a href="http://people.hofstra.edu/jeffrey_j_froh/spring%202010%20web/10.1007_s10902-010-9195-9[1].pdf">higher GPAs</a> -- as well as better social integration and satisfaction with life -- than their not-grateful counterparts, according to a 2010 study in the <em>Journal of Happiness Studies</em>. Researchers also found that grateful teens were less depressed or envious. "When combined with previous research, a clearer picture is beginning to emerge about the <a href="http://people.hofstra.edu/jeffrey_j_froh/spring%202010%20web/10.1007_s10902-010-9195-9[1].pdf">benefits of gratitude</a> in adolescents, and thus an important gap in the literature on gratitude and well-being is beginning to be filled," researchers wrote.

  • Makes You A Better Friend To Others

    According to a 2003 study in the <a href="http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/pdfs/GratitudePDFs/6Emmons-BlessingsBurdens.pdf">the <em>Journal of Personality and Social Psychology</em></a>, gratitude could also boost pro-social behaviors, such as helping other people who have problems or lending emotional support to another person.

  • Helps You Sleep Better

    Writing down what you're thankful for as you drift off to sleep can help you get better ZZs, according to a study in the <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1758-0854.2011.01049.x/abstract">journal <em>Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being</em></a>. Specifically, researchers found that when people spent 15 minutes jotting down what they're grateful for in a journal before bedtime, they <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/minding-the-body/201111/how-gratitude-helps-you-sleep-night">fell asleep faster</a> and stayed asleep longer, <em>Psychology Today</em> reported.

  • Strengthens Your Relationship

    Being thankful for the little things your partner does could make your relationship stronger, according to a study in the journal <em>Personal Relationships</em>. <em>The Telegraph</em> reported on the study, which showed that journaling about the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/7756775/Gratitude-for-little-things-is-key-to-relationships.html">thoughtful things your partner did</a> was linked with a beneficial outcome on the relationship.

  • Benefits The Heart

    A 1995 study in the <em>American Journal of Cardiology</em> showed that <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7484873">appreciation and positive emotions</a> are linked with changes in heart rate variability. <blockquote>[This] may be beneficial in the treatment of hypertension and in reducing the likelihood of sudden death in patients with congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease.</blockquote>

  • Is Good For Team Morale

    Athletes are <a href="http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ811262&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ811262">less likely to burn out</a> and more likely to experience high life satisfaction and team satisfaction when they are grateful, according to a 2008 study in the journal <em>Social Indicators Research</em> of high-schoolers.

  • Linked WIth Better Immune Health

    Gratefulness is linked with optimism, which in turn is linked with <a href="http://women.webmd.com/features/gratitute-health-boost">better immune health</a>, WebMD reported. For example, a University of Utah study showed that stressed-out law students who were optimistic had more immune-boosting blood cells than people who were pessimistic, according to WebMD.

  • Protects You From Negative Emotions That Come With Extreme Loss

    WebMD reported that negative events can boost gratitude, and that gratitude can help to <a href="http://women.webmd.com/features/gratitute-health-boost">boost feelings of belonging</a> and decrease feelings of stress. For example, a survey showed that feelings of gratitude were at high levels after 9/11, according to WebMD.

 

Follow Shannon Skinner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Shannon_Skinner

FOLLOW CANADA BUSINESS