What I Have Learned - Part 7 Acceptance

What I Have Learned - Part 7 Acceptance

For a little while when I was younger I was angry.

(I have to be a little circumspect about details in order to protect people in this post but it will be worth it when you make it to the end.)

I was angry because I felt like I had been taken advantage of multiple times by people I considered friends.

  • I once wrote a piece of software for a small amount of money for a friend, who then went on to base a company around it and got acquired by a big tech company. Their life completely changed as a result.
  • I had an idea for a new security product for cloud operations. I was out with a friend and he asked what I was working on and I told him about the idea in detail because I was proud and excited about it. A month later I found out he started a company based on the idea.
  • Over drinks with a friend I told them about an idea I had for a new approach to dealing with malware. They based their PhD off of this idea.
  • I started a company with a particular name and focus in security and I told a friend about it at dinner while visiting him from out of state. A few months later I discovered he had founded a company with almost exactly the same name and the same focus and gotten VC funding for it.

I have a bunch of similar stories, but that's enough to get the idea across. Now you might say "Hey, maybe stop telling people about your ideas if you don't want them to steal them." Or you might say "Don't be jealous that they were able to execute when you weren't." Or you might even say "don't be envious of your friends success." and there is some merit to all of these thoughts.

After some time and reflection, and some success of my own, I realized that what I had was a problem of acceptance not betrayal. I wasn't recognizing and accepting my role. Regardless of practical matters like copyright or intellectual property, in a metaphysical sense no one owns ideas. We are conduits for ideas to manifest into the world. The details of this manifestation and our involvement in it can vary. I've gotten ideas while singing in the shower, or from dreams. How can I own them? Where did they actually come from?

Some of us are destined to take ideas and turn them into something material, build a company out of them. Others are destined to simply grab on to an idea from the stream of consciousness, communicate it, and hand it off to the first type of person, relay style.

And our role can change over time, or depending on the idea itself. Maybe for a few years as we are growing and learning and developing skills our job is to let the ideas pass through us to others, and once we are ready an idea will come that we ourselves can execute. If we tried to execute sooner, we might find ourselves in a disaster because of the other skills we lack.

For me I have found value and peace in watching ideas come to fruition, people become successful, and how it affects the world. I am no longer angry, but curious and in wonder of humanity's ability to create and all the forms it takes. Imitation, iteration, and innovation is how our world as progressed so fast in the last 100 years and cultivating gratitude rather than resentment allows us to participate in that advancement more openly.

The Takeway

  • Where do ideas come from? What is the source of thought?
  • When you have an idea it can be useful to evaluate if you have the skill and capability to manifest it into reality or if someone has a better shot at it. Once you have evaluated it objectively, accept your role.
  • When others succeed based off of your ideas, root for them, watch in excitement. Resentment doesn't make it more likely that you can build something yourself. Its an anti-fuel.
  • Don't be afraid that you will have a scarcity of ideas. That well is infinite as long as you stay open and present.

Thanks for listening,