One of the ways academic journals measure the originality of a paper is based on the directed citation network between its references and the subsequent papers citing it. Researchers call it citation impact. The more scientists who quote your work, the higher the relative importance of your work is, and the more original your ultimately are. Here’s a nerdy piece of trivia of this subject. Lowry, the late great physician and biochemist, has published the most cited paper of all time. Since the early fifties, his paper on measuring the concentration of proteins in solutions has been cited over three hundred thousand times. Isn’t it amazing how profound of an impact one person’s work can have?
THUMBPRINTING — The idiosyncratic process of making your work unique
We all have our own artistic thumbprint, the idiosyncratic stuff that makes our work unique. And if we dig down deep, we can pull that out and deploy it in the service of others. In fact, it probably matters less what that thing is, and more that we’re intentional and authentic about how we go about it. Are you brave enough to accept your originality? What could you do to add to the common stock of knowledge in the world? Look, your work might not get cited hundreds of thousands of times, but the experience of feeling like your true self is unparalleled. And as long as you’re not exhausting yourself and others by becoming terminally unique and pathologically special, it’s worth it.
Many of my mentors are expert at this skill. There isn’t anything they do that doesn’t have an interesting spin on it. All of them have a slightly skewed perspective on just about everything. They’re masters at absorbing what came before them and turning it uniquely into their own thing. Watching them motivates me to do the same. Echoes of their voices chime in my head all the time. Like when writing a new song. There’s this constant reminder from my role models, psst, hey, go make this thing your own. Scott, ask yourself how you would do it if you were you. It’s kind of hokey, but it keeps me connected to my own source of originality. Holding the intention that this work that’s coming through me right now is going to be mine and mine alone. I am touching a future that I believe I am uniquely built to invent.
Go make something that shows people how you see the world. You never know whose bibliography your name will show up in. What is the sacred creative law of your nature?
Stay connected to your source of creative originality
Build a brand and body of work that makes you proud
Consistently deploy your talents in the service of self and other
Masterfully absorb what came before you and turn it uniquely into your own thing