Imitate and Then Get Your Own Ideas (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 190)
“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”
— The Imitation Game
They say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” And in a certain way, it is. To follow in the footsteps of someone else is the highest honor. But there is one thing that is deeper than imitation, and that is creativity. You don’t have to waste your time starting everything from scratch. But when you get the basic idea, it is your responsibility to create something new.
You imitate to begin. To be the best leader, you observe great leaders before you. To be the best singer, songwriter, or musician, you take lessons from the best that have already come. To be the best writer, you read the best writers and try to emulate their technique. To be the best athlete, you practice based on the strategies of all great athletes before you.
But imitation isn’t enough. After you imitate, you must create. You must build and improve upon all of the ideas and strategies that are before you. Imitate, then outperform. If you want to achieve something, there is someone who has already taken a similar path to achievement. It is your responsibility to observe and if you can meet just one of these such people, pick their brain.
The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, said “there is nothing new under the sun.” Indeed, there is not. Every idea that is put into action today is merely an improvement upon ideas that were put into action of years gone by. And that is something we all can do. Everyone possesses the ability and capability to make improvements that result in new products, organizations, and services.
Whether it is through a book, blog, article, magazine, website, video, or interview, get to know the masters of the universe you want to be a part of. Once you get their strategy, apply it. See how it works for you. Then get your own ideas from what you have learned and create your own strategies. The people who break the rules now and create new ones are those who learned the rules back then and decided to change them.
Here is the thing about imitation: you can imitate all you want, but you can never be exactly like the person you imitate. You could be worse, but you could also be much better. Samuel Johnson said, “No man was ever great by imitation.” He is right because most people stop at imitation. The hard work is what you do after you have nailed the strategies of others.
Trust yourself. Learn all you can. Then go out and create what has yet to be created. Think for yourself. The person you are trying to imitate also thought for himself or herself at one point. Successful people innovate. They gather all the knowledge and information from history and build upon it to create something new. It is better to fail ten thousand times at something new than to succeed at reproduction on an assembly line.
“Live up to your potential instead of imitating someone else’s.”
— Martha Burgess