Imitation is the Greatest Form of Flattery

How many times throughout your career have you invented or initiated a process, form, or new idea that quickly became the standard for your organization, school, or maybe even our sector?  More importantly how did you feel when that great idea was quickly adopted by others with no recognition for your ingenuity or hard work?

If you have encountered this scenario during your career then you might relate to the character in "Flash of Genius."  The movie is based on the true story of a college professor and part-time inventor Robert Kearns’ long battle with the U.S. automobile industry.  Granted you or I may not have come up with something as universal as the windshield wiper but it is still our work and we take pride in it.

I recently had one of these no recognition moments in my life.  A candidate form that I had created for another firm five years ago was actually sent to me by a potential client.  It had their logo on top and I was even told this is the standard they use company wide.  Keep in mind the form was exactly like my original. In fact the Microsoft Word author was still me!

My first reaction was similar to most.  A little upset, a bit frustrated, and even annoyed.  But then I remembered what a great football coach once said.  He told a reporter that he could hand his play book to his opponent.  That even if they knew exactly what his team was going to do they would still execute and win the game.  He was so confident in his player’s hard work, talent, and their ability to adapt that he knew it wouldn’t matter.

So the next time you see one of your great ideas being executed by someone else don’t get upset.  They will never utilize your innovation as effectively as you. More importantly, the same hard work and dedication that helped formulate that idea has probably created five new ones already. 

Now when I reflect on my form that was so easily adopted I smile because a few years later I had come up with something more efficient and don’t even use the original anymore.  You should smile too. After all, imitation is greatest form of flattery.

Vincent Scaramuzzo


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