The Evolutionary Convergence of Ideas

The other morning I read a blog post from one of my business role models, Seth Godin.

He wrote:

Instead of outthinking the competition it’s worth trying to outlove them.”

When I read his post, I couldn’t believe it. “How cool is this?”, I thought. The idea of out-CARING the competition  is the business philosophy that has driven my  decisions for several years. I’ve written about out-caring the competition in the past on my blog, and now, uber-smart business guy, Seth Godin is writing about the same idea. Neat-o.

Seth and I are not unique though.  When I googled the phrase “out-care the competition” at least a dozen other people have written about this same concept.  Across the Interwebz, people had converged on this idea independently of each other.  This phenomenon happens all the time in the startup world (two companies in different parts of the world will start the same business at the same time without knowledge that the other company exists).

I recently learned that a similar phenomenon happens in nature as well.  It’s what is known in biological terms as evolutionary convergence.  (the acquisition of the same biological trait in different lineages). The wing is the classic example of evolutionary convergence.   In the survival of the fittest, flight is a pretty  useful characteristic to have. Because of this, birds, bats and insects have all evolved wings and the capacity to fly even though none of these animals are even closely related.  Birds, bats and insects have all converged on this useful trait.

Convergent evolution of the fin.


The lesson as applied to startups is that if you have an idea, don’t sit on it.  TAKE ACTION.   No matter how novel you think your idea is, chances are about one hundred other people are thinking of the same idea.  The ones who win are the ones who act on it.



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2 thoughts on “The Evolutionary Convergence of Ideas

  1. Tom says:

    Yep. Kindess pays. Remember that statement, “nice guys never win.” That whole paradigm is shifting. Seth Godin, the Heath brothers, and Tony Hsieh (among others) have done a good job of creating the momentum for this shift.

    Yes, many people share similar ideas. Either collaborate with them or be the first to act on it. Good advice.

    And cheers to anyone, ever, who uses science in a business/life analogy.

    • ethanaustin1 says:

      Seth and Tony are both people who have deeply influenced the way I think about business. Linchpin in mandatory reading for all employees at GiveForward and Delivering Happiness was our inspiration for talking, living, and sharing our company values. Don’t know the Heath brothers but I will def have to look them up.

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