Give Your Brain Away

If I had to put my finger on the most influential thought I’ve experienced in the past year, my finger would not hesitate to put itself on this one:

Give your brain away.
Ok, that’s my phrasing of the idea. The original idea came from Leo Babauta, author of the wildly successful Zen Habits blog (one of my personal favorites). Leo doesn’t copyright anything, he just puts it out there. He even reminds you once in awhile that it’s not copyrighted and you’re free to do whatever you wish with his thoughts and writings. 
At first I thought he was nuts. After all, I’ve always learned to copyright everything to “protect what I’ve created.” In other words, to hopefully someday make money with it.
But the concept of giving my brain away made me realize just how small I had been thinking. And how ridiculous it was to try to claim ownership over something that I’d already given away.
Think about it. If you write or speak something and then publish it in any way, you just gave it away. It is now out of your head and out in the world. Unless you can gather back all of the books, blogs, Facebook and Twitter posts, YouTube videos, and water cooler stories about it, you’ve pretty much released ownership of it…whether it has one of those little c-in-a-circle marks attached to it or not. The only way you can truly own something is to keep it to yourself. 
And ideas that you keep to yourself don’t even do YOU any good. So what’s the point?
I recently saw a marketing professor from a major university give a presentation based on the research that she had done. She shared facts and figures, flow charts, graphs, and a few conclusions she had drawn from her work. And then she said, “I see may of you taking notes and that’s ok, but please remember that this data and the models and charts I’ve shared with you are MINE.
I’m sure the people at my table wondered why I had such a big smile on my face. I was actually trying not to laugh at the absurdity of what she had said. You can’t share something, then claim it to be yours. That’s like giving somebody a bite of your filet mignon, then telling them, “Remember, that juicy piece of steak you’re about to swallow really belongs to me.”
Oh yeah? Try to get it back.
That’s when I started giving my brain away for real. I removed copyrights from my writing and even started tagging many of my posts and newsletter articles with a note that says “Republish this article! You always have permission to republish our articles. Period. No fine print. Go for it. And thank you.
A copyright has never stopped a thief. Never will.
Spending time and energy worrying that somebody will steal your idea only robs you of the energy required to create and share even more ideas. 
Please don’t mistake my generosity for charity. I like to make money. I want to make a gazillion dollars. I’d settle for a bazillion, but a gazillion would be even better. I’ve realized that the more of my brain I give away through my writing, videos, etc., the more people are willing to pay me to share my ideas firsthand through keynote speeches and workshops. Funny how that works. 
Giving my brain away somehow magically creates space for more ideas, too. I’m pretty sure that’s because my brain is a lot like my garage. If I try to keep what’s in there, well, that’s all I’ll ever have room for. But if I empty it out and give it away? Ah, now there’s room for more.
Let go. Give your brain away. Share your brilliance. You will be amazed at the freedom, energy, and prosperity it brings.
P.S. Republish this article! You always have permission to republish our articles. Period. No fine print. Go for it. And thank you.


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