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Copy Cats Are Boring. Why Is It Better To Be Original?

Copy Cats Are Boring. Why Is It Better To Be Original?

Plagiarism is rampant on the internet. It’s so easy for people to copy, paste, and claim an idea as their own. Unfortunately, lots of people get away with it. Some even thrive on the labors of others. They may be able to skate by, but what are they really getting out of copying someone else’s work?

The simple fact is, you can’t learn and grow if you don’t put in the effort.

We’re all on a quest for originality

Everyone wants to be unique. Originality showcases talent, and it gives you a competitive edge. People don’t want to buy an idea that has been repackaged. New ideas sell.

The pressure to be creative in a world in which everyone is creating and sharing all the time is enormous. To complicate matters, modern life doesn’t often allow us to have the time and focus that we need to innovate. When this happens, many people have a hard time coming up with new ideas and ways to solve problems.

At the first sign of a creative blockage, people may turn to the work of others for inspiration. Sometimes this is enough to get them on track, but they may also be tempted to copy someone else’s idea so that they can get their product out on time.

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Over time, a person can develop a habit of repackaging someone else’s work instead of coming up with fresh ideas. Operating in this fashion may provide short-term relief, but it’s a formula for failure.

    Plagiarism is like skipping levels in a video game

    Imagine you’re playing a game, and you get to a challenging level. Your friend is an expert at this game, so you hand the controller off to him. He easily completes the level, but when he returns the controller to you, you find the new level almost impossible to play.

    Video games, like life, are designed so that you can only advance when you get the skills that you need. Until you are ready to move on, you won’t be able to beat the level.

    Copying is like handing off the controller. You never actually learn how to do what you need to do because someone else did all the legwork. You miss out on developing any real understanding of whatever you’re trying to do when you just copy, paste, and make a few minor adjustments.

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    Just like you won’t have the skills to make it to the next level if you let someone else do the hard work in the game, you won’t have the knowledge to carry out future assignments if you don’t put in the time on the one in front of you. You’ll be stuck living in the shadows of others’ greatness. When you’re in over your head, you’ll be more tempted to continue plagiarizing in the future.

    You can’t copy the spirit of originality

    When someone comes up with something entirely new, there’s this beautiful process that brings it into being. Their experiences combined with their skillsets produce this innovation. This is an invisible but ever-present force in new ideas.

    A copycat won’t be able to give an idea new life because they don’t have the spark. They don’t understand why a material behaves the way it does, or why this model will work for their customers better than that other one.

    The depth of understanding that comes with going through the process of discovery just isn’t there. There’s no substance, and there’s no way to grow. It’s like trying to grow a tree by starting with the trunk instead of beginning with a seed and a root system.

    Copycats can never be first in anything, either. Someone who copies has to wait for somebody else to come up with the original idea before they can remix it for themselves. No matter what you make, it’s always going to be one step behind. It’s the knockoff– the less desirable version of the original. It’s a miserable way to live.

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      Accept nothing less than your personal best

      In The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, Twyla Tharp states:[1]

      “Our ability to grow is directly proportional to an ability to entertain the uncomfortable.”

      Instead of panicking and copying someone else’s work, embrace your discomfort and be original! It’s fine to be inspired by others’ works, but you don’t have to plagiarize. You have to believe that you can come up with your own one-of-a-kind idea.

      From the outside, there can be a fine line between being inspired by someone and copying, but if you’re the one completing the project, it’s easy to tell if you’re copying. If someone else is doing most of the work, your idea isn’t original.

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      Finding inspiration without resorting to plagiarism is not difficult. Diversifying the places from which you draw inspiration helps. Talk to others working in your field, read lots of books, and continue to consume content related to your work. This builds your frame of reference so that you can create something different.

      Becoming this well-informed is time-consuming, but it’s what will make you an authority in your field. As you learn more, you can learn to ask the right kinds of questions. Knowing what to ask leads you to come up with your own ideas.

      Plagiarism is a cop-out

      You are capable of doing profound things, but you have to give yourself a chance. No matter how tough it seems, keep striving to be an original. In the end, you’ll hold your head high knowing you’ve done something nobody has done before.

      Featured photo credit: Fancy Crave/ Minimography.com via fancycrave.com

      Reference

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      Leon Ho

      Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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      Last Updated on July 18, 2019

      How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

      How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

      Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

      However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

      Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

      Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

      There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

      Better Job Offers

      Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

      People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

      Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

      You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

      Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

      A Shot at Entrepreneurship

      Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

      We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

      13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

      1. Update Your Resume

      You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

      Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

      While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

      There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

      2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

      Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

      That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

      To hone this skill:

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      Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

      Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

      This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

      How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

      3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

      Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

      Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

      To hone this skill:

      Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

      4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

      No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

      Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

      To hone this skill:

      Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

      Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

      These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

      The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

      5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

      Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

      How to hone this skill:

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      Practice being resourceful.

      Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

      Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

      No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

      If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

      6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

      6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

      Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

      The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

      Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

      How to hone this skill:

      Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

      Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

      17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

      7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

      Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

      What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

      How to hone this skill:

      Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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      Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

      5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

      8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

      Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

      Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

      How to hone this skill:

      Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

      Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

      What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

      9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

      How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

      Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

      How to hone this skill:

      Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

      Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

      The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

      10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

      Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

      How to hone this skill:

      Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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      Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

      What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

      11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

      Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

      You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

      How to hone this skill:

      All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

      How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

      12. Build Networks and Relationships

      You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

      Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

      How to hone this skill:

      Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

      To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

      How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

      Final Thoughts

      Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

      You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

      Happy career switching!

      More Resources About Career Advancement

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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