Uncovering parts of the universe hidden from you
🥤JUICE of the story
Successful people around me know wayyyyyy more stuff than I do. By imitating them, I get to uncover my hidden potential.
Here’s why I do it, things that have worked for me and the lessons I learned.
Imitation is a shortcut to excellence
Looking up to someone you want to be like, or a problem that you want solved more elegantly gives you a purpose. A motivating force.
But sometimes, this force isn’t there. Whenever a friend approaches me for advice about work, I ask them what do they want to do, I try to figure out what inspires them, what is there purpose.
Most of the time, people who need guidance don’t have anything that inspires them. They have no sense of their true north. Without a purpose, they feel stuck. They don’t like what they are doing currently and don’t know what they should do next.
There are so many things that we don’t know
All the knowledge in this world can be collected in 3 buckets :
- Stuff you know, you know — I know how to design and market tech. products. This is who you are. Your strengths.
- Stuff you know, you don’t know — I know that’ I don’t know kick boxing. This is who you are not. Your known weakness.
- Stuff you don’t know, you don’t know — The parts of the universe you have no access to. Your potential.
Every person around you has a different composition of the 3 buckets
I know a person who does well in structured environments and I also know a person who thrives in chaos. I know a person who is a great runner and also a person who likes dank memes.
But the most successful people have a humongous 2nd & 3rd buckets
Knowledge is power. Dr. Benjamin Franklin was a printing press operator, a politician, an author, an inventor and god knows what else.
(One of my favourites) Gandhi, travelled across India to get acquainted with it. To find things from his 3rd bucket.
This is what universities and school get right. There is so much that I learnt from my friends at school and work. This is what makes you stronger when you are a part of a team. This is why teams accomplish more than the sum of individuals.
If you don’t know what you should do, find people who you want to be like
It’s as simple as that. Look in your family, look at your friends. Look on the internet. Look in books. Travel and experience different cultures. Go deep, go wide. Explore.
[Realists must be thinking, how will I feed myself and people who depend on me ? Good thinking champ, you’ll have to do a boring job till what inspires you starts paying you too.]
Once found, imitate them
Imitation helps you systematically uncover parts of the universe that are hidden from you. In this process of discovery, you master new skills. You also get to know stuff you like and don’t.
I shamelessly imitate my teachers Dr. Amit Jain, who has a different way of living and Kapil Verma who is one of the world’s best software architect.
I shamelessly imitate Jason Fried who thinks that sales can be morally sound and Basecamp, a company that thinks that steady growth is good. I imitate Snapchat design team (I literally copied there UX language in my startup’s UX).
Become Them + You
The good news is that you have some stuff in your first bucket already. When you bring in stuff from other people’s buckets you create an alchemy of ideas.
The new elements have traces of both old and new, it’s a mutation. It might be better.
Don’t steal or plagiarise
I like Jason Fried’s company and his way of doing things. This doesn't mean that I should build a clone of Basecamp. It should always be Them + You.
When you do this for long, a new original will show up
Your mutations will lead to an original idea, something that you can call yours. Something that is different. Something that pushes the existing boundaries.
And this perhaps is one of the best feelings. This is what get creatives high. This is what gets you addicted to success.