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Wise Future Self


Last week, I was visiting my family in Canada.  I decided to sneak in a few hours of work at the beginning of my trip, to complete a few things I’d left undone.  I needed a blog post I’d written for reference, so I popped over to Google and typed in a line I remembered from the post.

The search results revealed my post…and hers.

I clicked over to her website to see what was up, and felt my stomach turn as I read my carefully crafted post, being passed off as hers.  I went to her blog to see what else I could find, and in the course of an hour, I found a total of 22 plagiarized posts of mine.  My words, signed off with an “xoxo, tami”.  Assuming that none of her content was original, I then started searching passages from her other posts (spanning 3 years), and discovered that every single one of her over-80 posts were ripped-off content that was written by someone else.  While most of the posts were copied word-for-word, this one was the most tragic-comic because she actually spun my hospital and divorce stories into her own:

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Over the course of that day and the following – when I was supposed to be enjoying time with my family – I spent a total of about 8 hours searching posts, emailing all the people whose work she’d stolen,  emailing with my lawyer and Business Manager, and gathering evidence of all of my other content she’d spread across the internet (on social media and syndicated sites).

I was livid, and I was hurt.

I’ve shared this experience on Facebook and several close people in my life, and everyone has been amazingly supportive.  I’ve noticed, though, that we also tend to want to believe a few things (myself included), and I want to address them here:

1.  ” Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”
Actually, this isn’t imitation, it’s plagiarism.  And no, I’m not flattered.  Listen, I know that people don’t rip-off stuff they think stinks, but theft isn’t a compliment.  While I understand that we pull inspiration from the world, it’s critical that we check ourselves – out of respect for others and ourselves – and choose inspiration over imitation. {tweet it} You’ll never be the best [Your Idol’s Name here] – she’s got that claim to fame – so be the brightest you.

2. “This comes with the territory”
Perhaps that may be true right now (I’m shocked at how many people share a similar story to mine), but that doesn’t make it okay.  There’s a difference between awareness and apathy.  I want to support a change, and the fact that I want a change doesn’t mean I can’t forgive her (I have) and move forward (I am)…I can cultivate peace in my heart and give attention to creating change around this cause.  Let’s begin truly honoring the work of others and ourselves, so we can step out of competition and into collaboration and celebration.

3. “Nothing is original”
Yes, it’s safe to assume that none of my ideas are unique to me.  Even with the most innovative concepts, there’s probably someone, somewhere, who’s imagining something similar.  But when I create, what I produce has my imprint on it – it’s infused with me – and I am an original.  It’s natural to be inspired by the things we read, the beauty we see in the world, and the creations we love.  So take that raw inspiration and use it to express in your unique way, creating art and solutions that the world needs.  There’s room for everyone here, and we need more creativity.  Please, please be self-expressed.

Finally, to the woman who stole my work:

Dear Sister,

My anger and hurt have eased since I found my – and so many other sisters’ – posts on your blog last week.  You’ve been stealing from us for 3 years, and I don’t know that I can express what it felt like to discover that.  It cut deep.  I felt betrayed, dishonored, and pissed.  I was angry that you stole the work I spent days of my life producing with care, throughout years of honing my craft as a writer and coach.  I was angry that you were using other people’s work to get clients for yourself.  I was angry that it caused me so many more hours to dig to the surface, account for, and deal with.  I was angry that you cost me time with my family and the drained energy of emotional upset.  I was angry that you cost many of our other sisters these same things.

I was hurt that, as a sister, you’d steal our work and call it your own.

And I felt compassion for you.  I imagined how misaligned it must feel to be doing this while calling yourself a “Creative Business Coach” – stealing from others is neither creative nor good business.  I imagined the possibility that you’re really overwhelmed, or stressed, or perhaps something else that I can’t even imagine.  I imagined the possibility that you may have somehow justified this to yourself as acceptable, and how difficult it may feel to have lawyers and Google tell you otherwise.   I imagined that you are, still and after all, my sister…  I can forgive you.

What I want for you is what I want for all of us: that we cultivate the courage to create something original, and the tenacity to put it out into the world over and over again, until we get better and better.  I want for us all to feel proud of our creations, even if only because we put one foot in front of the other and did it.  I want for all of us to celebrate what we admire in others, while honoring that what we each bring to the table is unique and beautiful.

Sister, I want you to be free.  Please look inside and ask yourself the important questions, then rise and shine.

With love,