Derek Sivers

Entrepreneur, programmer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Obvious to you. Amazing to others.

Any creator of anything knows this feeling:

You experience someone else's innovative work. It's beautiful, brilliant, breath-taking. You're stunned.

Their ideas are unexpected and surprising, but perfect.

You think, “I never would have thought of that. How do they even come up with that? It's genius!

Afterwards, you think, “My ideas are so obvious. I'll never be as inventive as that.”

I get this feeling often. Amazing books, music, movies, or even amazing conversations. I'm in awe at how the creator thinks like that. I'm humbled.

But I continue to do my work. I tell my little tales. I share my point of view. Nothing spectacular. Just my ordinary thoughts.

One day someone emailed me and said, “I never would have thought of that. How did you even come up with that? It's genius!”

Of course I disagreed, and explained why it was nothing special.

But afterwards, I realized something surprisingly profound:

Everybody's ideas seem obvious to them.

I'll bet even John Coltrane or Richard Feynman felt that everything they were playing or saying was pretty obvious.

So maybe what's obvious to me is amazing to someone else?

Hit songwriters, in interviews, often admit that their most successful hit song was one they thought was just stupid, even not worth recording.

We're clearly a bad judge of our own creations. We should just put it out and let the world decide.

Are you holding back something that seems too obvious to share?

E=MC²