The Challenges in Being Original

Ink on Scrap Watercolor paper – words: Herman Melville

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation”. These words reminded me of our trips to Japan. When asked About the thing we admire about Japan it is their consistency, culture, personal accountability and their delight in clean lines. No clutter, no mess, everyone is responsible to the group and for their own actions. We have visited there for over a decade and always look forward to going back.

When we had Japanese visitors what they delighted in about Americans is that no two look the same. We dress and act anyway we want, we are free spirited and spread out. And we say and do anything we want. What I found interesting is that we want to be more like them and they want to be more like us. The things that make us original are the things that often cause our nation the most trouble. What makes the Japanese people strong is also what challenges them. The goal is to learn from each other and develop our own original solutions to modern day problems, imitating another country or people may not work for each nation.

Everyone wants to be original and yet we forget the lessons from our past where being original got us in trouble. I am reminded of the saying that if we fail to learn the lessons from our history we are destined to repeat them…no matter the topic that is correct. Until we see and understand what we are dealing with we cannot invent original ideas to solve our problems. But being original is tough. Being unique brings with it criticism and isolation. Everyone wants original yet far too few are willing to endure the battles originality presents.

So the struggle is being our original selves, learning the lessons and avoiding imitation simply for the ease it provides. We can never know how original we are being if we have not learned from those who went before us. Today’s challenge is to be original in one thing and also allow others to original in their thing. Whew! That sounds like a lot. I think we can do it if we practice personal accountability, do what we want AND learn how to work those two things together. I’m willing to try if you are?

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