If you want to do something, find someone who has already done that and follow the steps and you can achieve almost similar results.
I wish the above were true all the time and you didn’t have to think much.
In my opinion, getting inspired by someone is good but trying to mimic someone results in a not-so-happy situation most of the time.
Mimic makes it look easy
From far, mimic seems like a great strategy. Let’s take a simple example – you want to go to a town you have never been before. You ask someone who has been there and traced the same route and voila – you will end up in the same town. You would wonder – why would anyone want to do this any other way. Why reinvent the wheel when you can simply ask someone who is willing to help to get you to that town.
Your argument may be that other quests should follow the same argument.
Unfortunately, drawing analogies based on one example like the one above would be flawed.
Because, the town that you wanted to go won’t go away or change its location. It’s static. There may be many roads that are leading there but, barring weather conditions, the road that was suggested for you will work great.
That won’t be the case for other quests such as starting a company, publishing a book or recording an album. The paths leading these quests will rarely be similar to what someone experienced before and rarely can be copied.
Behind the scenes of a quest
Let’s take a look at “behind the scenes of a worthwhile quest.” The schematic below seems complicated at first look but please have some patience as I go through it
1. Internal vs External: There is a line that separates what happens internal in general and what happens external in general. A journey to a meaningful quest is rarely taken alone and your case won’t be in an exception.
2. Trigger: This could be an external or internal trigger that sets things in motion
3. Think: This is the first step in a quest – an intense desire to take the quest
4. Organize: Post the “Think” phase, the next step is to organize internal (mental) and external resources to take the quest
5. Do: This is the action phase and some quests may take days, some may take weeks or months and some quests may take years. During the action phase there are two distinct possibilities:
6. Succeed: This is the best case scenario. When this happens, in general you will go and update your goals to a new quest and go back to the “Think” phase.
7. Fail: In this case, believe it or not, the most common thing that happens is to “Give Up” and simply wait for another “Trigger” to initiate the next quest. In the eyes of the world, you will be a “loser” if you chose this option.
8. Adapt: In some cases of failure, you will quickly “adapt” and change certain parameters and go back to the “Think” phase again. You keep repeating this cycle of Think-> Organize->Do->Fail->Adapt (I call this the Persistence cycle or in startup terms you keep pivoting) until you can get out of this cycle and succeed.
The above happens in 90% of the cases. In the remaining 10% of the cases, you might take the journey a follows:
9. Synthesize: This is where you reflect on what really happened in your quest
10. Generalize: You start extracting ideas that are applicable in a broader context
11. Record: Record your thoughts in one way or the other
12. Publish: Publish to the external world.
Recreating magic in the real world is not easy
As you can see from “behind the scenes” discussion, recreating magic in the real world is not very easy. In fact, the data you will have about “behind the scenes” is very little and in many cases what data you have is diluted. Besides, you are not them. What internal conversations they were having internally and what conversations you are going to have internally would never be the same.
Unlike a town that won’t move away to a new location, the world around you is changing rapidly. Trying to mimic a strategy that worked yesterday and applying it in today’s world does not sound very promising, does it?
Even a simple decision that someone took would be influenced by a number of things.
What could you do?
This all seems very depressing you might think. But there are several things that you can do to set yourself up for reaching your quests. Here are three investments that you can make:
1. Relentlessly invest in yourself: You are the player in this game and the better you are in all respects, the better your chances of winning the game.
2. Relentlessly invest in the knowledge of the world that matters to you: The world that matters to you is your playground. If you don’t understand the playground, how can you expect to win the game?
3. Relentlessly invest in learning how to think better: Start with “to think” lists and ensure that every single day your thinking gets better.
All the best!