Learn the 3 secrets of the best artists and entrepreneurs: Stealing and recycling ideas to start successful projects

Sometimes, our emotions are more powerful than our reason. And that’s great…unless you don’t know how to funnel and take advantage of those emotions.

It’s also great having a lot of energy and enthusiasm about a new idea, but the real magic happens when we learn how to funnel that energy into something valuable.

Why having a plane if you are not going to fly in it? It’s not only about turning on the engine, consume fuel and show its power, it’s a matter of using that energy to let the plane take off and fly.

The thing is that 99.9% of people don’t want to build a plane from scratch.

I have good news for you: People are wrong when they think that starting something new means that every element, idea or process about that thing must be new. They forget the powerful concept of recycling: Recycled processes, ideas, and concepts from previous projects.

The fact that a previous project didn’t work doesn’t mean all its elements didn’t work. On the contrary, one of the best things of those forgotten (or undervalued) projects, is that you can recycle a lot of valuable elements, information, and learnings that you haven’t exploited yet.

One of the reasons why someone wouldn’t take the “risk” to jump on a new project or to execute something is because, when we start planning, we get intimidated about facing the challenge of starting something from scratch. In some cases, an empty canvas could be exciting, but other times it could be intimidating.

That’s why sometimes it’s better to have a canvas with some of the structure already built. In some situations, it’s a good idea to build over the things that are already built. Why don’t take a shortcut?

There are good shortcuts and bad shortcuts. A good shortcut is one that allows you to build efficiencies and make a better use of your time.

3 steps to learn how to recycle ideas and build efficiencies in your new project

1.Realize that taking shortcuts is not wrong and that “originality” is a misconception. No piece of content, of art, of work, is 100% original. That’s why I said that sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with building over things that are already built.

As Austin Kleon points out in his book Steal like an Artist, no artist’s work is ever completely original, and trying to be completely original will daunt an artist and eventually smothers his creativity.

And, as the Picasso’s cliché quote says: “Good artists copy, and great artists steal”. So, don’t worry about trying to be 100% original.

2.When starting a project, think about previous inputs from past projects that you can recycle. Sometimes we don’t see the value of what we consider “trash”. We could be sitting on gold without even realizing it.

So, it’s also a matter of mindfulness. Have you heard about the concept of mindfulness? It’s a very fashionable concept these days. Well, just don’t be mindful in the traditional way. Apply mindfulness also to your projects, the actual ones, and the past ones. Why? Because being mindful is the way to see and value the importance of the things you have previously done.

That’s one of the reasons I write and I keep a daily journal: I have a written record of every project I tackle. I have a record of my thinking and my behavior when I approach every situation.

This way, in the future, when I face a certain type of problem, I could come back to my writings and see how can I apply some of the concepts that I applied in previous situations to this new challenge.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a different context. A lot of concepts and ways to think are replicable to different scenarios.

3.Develop your ability to think in relative terms. Stop thinking in absolute terms. To be a good recycler, you need to think in relative terms. What this means, basically, is that you need to understand the fact that an idea, a concept, a process, or a way of thinking can be replicable in different contexts and scenarios:

– An idea to start an e-commerce company is not just an idea to start an e-commerce company: It’s an idea to start a company. In the future, you could use the principles you used to execute this idea and do it with another type of company.

– Developing the habit to wake up early to read is not just developing the habit to wake up early to read: It’s a mindset and a decision to wake up early and make a better use of your time. In the future, you could use this time to start a new project.

– The contacts you made in your previous job are not just the contacts you made in your previous job: They are potential partners, co-founders, mentors or investors for your next company.


So stop undervaluing the “trash”. The things you left behind, that you forgot, that you thought were not valuable, could be recycled to take your next Project or idea to the next level.

So…What are you waiting for? Recycling it’s the way…