Your influences are all worth sharing because they clue people in to who you are and what you do – sometimes even more than your own work.
-Austin Kleon, Show Your Work, p. 77
I appreciate people who share their influences. I can’t tell you how much I’ve been helped by a couple of people who simply took the time to make a recommended reading list. That’s why I put one on this blog. I once threw a book across the room because it kept quoting people but didn’t give references for the quotes. By giving credit to the people that influence you, you allow others not only to see what has shaped you, but to dig deeper and maybe be shaped themselves.
There’s a C.S. Lewis quote that I would give a reference for if I knew where it came from (I got it from John Piper). Lewis is talking about the author of the Canterbury Tales. He says, “Poets are, for Chaucer, not people who receive fame, but people who give it.”
We should want to bring fame to those who have helped us. Don’t take other people’s ideas and simply make them your own. That makes those ideas die with you. Tell people where you got the ideas so that they can visit the source and be helped when you’re not around.
When you’re at a party, tell people about what your reading. Tell them about the people who are helping you. This way you’re not talking about yourself, but you’re letting them get to know you nonetheless. Share it on social media. Kleon says, “Don’t show yourself, show your work.” Instead of posting a selfie, recommend a book. Brag about a book or an author instead of bragging about yourself. More on this to come…
More on this to come…