I've received about 200 emails, Tweets, and Facebook messages alerting me to Seth Godin's daily blog post for today, April 11, 2011 which just so happens to be titled:
Egads! He must have stolen this idea from me!
No. Of course he didn't.
I'm not the first to write about failure nor will I be the last.
Yeah, maybe I'm the first to title something "How to Fail" but, again, many not since those are three very simple words arranged very simply. (I follow the hashtag "howtofail" on Twitter and all sorts of random people from all over the globe Tweet it when they fail. Many of them have no idea who I am.)
For the record, Seth does know who I am. And, I know who he is. I'm a big fan. If you read my blog more frequently than you apparently do, you'd see I write about him, his books, and his publishing venture The Domino Project all the time. Seth even owns a copy of "How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide" though I have no clue if he's actually read it. I assume he's at least read the title. It hardly matters.
Idea are "stolen" all the time. Actually, ideas are rarely stolen since few things are truly original. Seth himself even had a great post about this a few weeks ago. It's funny, when I came up with the idea for "How to Fail," with the idea for the world's first "self-hurt guide," the opposite of a self-help guide, I thought I was being completely original. Completely sui generis. And, thus, during the years I was writing the book, I was scared to death someone would steal my idea.
But they didn't. (I was googling "self-hurt guide" every few months just to make sure.) I often wondered during that time: How is no one else thinking of this simple idea? I felt like Darwin must have felt during that decade he was formulating the theory of natural selection, not realizing that there was an Alfred Russel Wallace over on the island of Ternate formulating the very same ideas. I thought, lucky for me, that there weren't any Wallaces in my life. But now I realize there are plenty of Wallaces. Plenty of people as interested in writing about the topic of failure as I am. Seth is one of those people.
I wrote "How to Fail" because I was sick of pathetic self-help gurus overly-optimistically telling us how to live our lives when they had never accomplished anything in their lives besides getting schnooks to buy their self-help books. I wanted to talk about something people weren't talking about: failure. Everyone talks about success, it's easy to encourage success, but no one seems to talk about failure. Failure in all aspects of life. The importance of failure being necessary in ultimately achieving success. In living a happy life. I talk about that in "How to Fail." I just happen to surround my message in sex scenes, drinking, and profanity. Seth doesn't, which makes his books better or worse depending on how you look at things (probably better).
The ironic thing is that Seth probably has 1000 times the number of fans I have (his "How to Fail" has already been LIKED 652 times and retweeted 948 times as of this second) so presumably, some time in the future, one such fan will discover my book and shoot Seth an email:
"hey d00d this guy goldfarb totally stole your idea!!!"
Actually that's how my fans write, I'm sure Seth's fans capitalize and don't use numbers in place of letters.
But I didn't steal his idea, and he certainly didn't steal mine. There's enough of this failure stuff to go around. So, feel free to keep sending me email and Tweets, but not about people stealing my ideas.
And buy a copy of my book if you want to know "How to Fail."