We could march to the same beat or sing the same melody. Look to your left, look to your right, just copy the person to your side.
When Sam Parker started Inspire Your People, it was a unique marketplace for corporations to buy inspiring content like DVDs, posters, and books. Then, everyone started hanging the same motivational posters around their offices, reading the same books, and watching the same DVDs.
In many of these offices, they operate in direct contradiction with the message. They are unable to shift the company culture of their behemoth of a company from under the weight of old school hierarchical power structures and ego driven managers through posters and DVDs.
And so, the message became corporate wall art catchphrase, and it started being ignored.
But because it was successful, others started selling similar posters, books, and DVDs.
Foundr magazine started dominating Instagram with entrepreneurial quotes over stock imagery.
Then came the explosion of banal Pinterest and Instagram accounts sharing other people’s quotes over stock imagery, often without attribution.
Now it’s one of the dominant Instagram “strategies” because people love double tapping on motivational quotes.
“Wow bruh, I’m so motivated!”
Gary V makes videos yelling about how people complain and whine too much and basically took ownership of the word hustle. He saturates the web looking for attention, and it’s worked. Now, Gary V minions roam the web giving his advice. A whole wave of pretendrepreneurs flash stacks of hundreds, post pictures of Bugattis, and drone on and on about “the hustle.”
“Sleep is for suckers”
Copies carry the same message as the original in the same way that a cover band plays the same song. And while you or I can sing along with virtually any song, we may not know why the song was written.
There’s a difference between doing something, and honoring the meaning behind it; between performing a ritual, and understanding a ritual.
I was raised Jewish, though I no longer practice. In the Jewish faith, there is a holiday called Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur, people fast from sundown to sundown. They are not supposed to work. They are supposed to focus on atoning for their wrongdoings from the past year. The pain from the hunger during the fast is supposed to cause you to think of where you caused others pain, or wronged them. And, if you’ve gone through that process, when you break the fast with food, you feel refreshed and spiritually rejuvenated.
The ritual has a purpose. I appreciate the meaning behind it even though I don’t participate.
Yet, many people simply observe Yom Kippur by not eating, then eating. They pay no mind to the meaning behind it. They simply go through the motions.
This happens in every religion, and in every aspect of human habitual behavior. We stop thinking about it. We go through the motions.
In a world of automatic response, thoughtful action is a rarity.
The internet makes everything accessible and easily imitated, and the speed of networks shortens the half-life of anything meaningful.
We move too fast to appreciate.
It doesn’t help that in our society, we have a survival imperative.
- Without money, we have no shelter and no food.
- Even if we do have enough for food and shelter, we need more, because without a safety net, we need to plan for our future needs.
- Even if we have our future needs covered, we certainly can’t have enough since others still have more.
While some are driven by purpose and passion, others simply need to survive. So, we’re driven to seek opportunities to make money and whether it is survival or greed, the goal is to acquire funds as effectively and easily as possible. So, too many people buy the get-rich-quick schemes. They copy, and as they copy, others copy…and the problem gets worse.
Recently, I gave one of my team members some advice. This advice was inspired by Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People…maybe you’ve heard of it? The words that left my mouth could be printed on posters, added over stock photos on Instagram, or recorded on a video for the world to see…but that’s not my style.
The advice was relevant to a specific situation. It was meant for HER, in that moment.
It wasn’t just something I’d read, but something I’d worked on and learned through experience. It was qualified, contextualized, and discussed in a conversation. It was adapted, specifically for her.
It is not enough for us to collectively copy and share what we’ve seen. We are not here to be clipboards.
If we really want to inspire others, or create something greater than the source material, we have to internalize it, experience it, and learn from it.
You get to choose what you share and why you share it.
You get to choose where you allocate your attention.
You can give your precious attention to anything you’d like.
You can follow the copycats, you can follow the originals. It’s your choice.
You can be a copycat, or you can be an original.
Should you choose to participate in the sing along, the least you can do is know the part you play.
Also published on Medium.