We seem to be obsessed with emulating the habits and rituals of so called ‘successful’ people in our culture today. Leaving aside the obvious errors of not accounting for survival bias, coincidence and luck, there is no particular reason to assume that what worked for someone else will necessarily work for you. What is more important is seeking out your own unique path.

Surface behaviour

unique pathJust because Steve Jobbs had green tea at 5am every day, does not mean that you need to in order to be good at what you do. We can certainly draw inspiration and lessons from experts in their fields. But even these learnings have to be carefully distilled and examined to understand how they could be relevant to you and what you want to do.

The same philosophy or approach could manifest very differently when applied by two people. Someone who rises later in the day and stays up later into the night could be as effective as a person with the opposite sleeping habits.

What is important is not the surface behaviour of their waking time, but rather the passion and curiosity with which each engages in their work. 

Unique path

So, what could you do? It’s about finding your unique path and what works for you. Be curious, experiment, discuss, share, observe, ask, learn. But don’t simply adopt habits and rituals because you see someone else do it. Their unique path is to be walked by them.

When trying to learn from someone skilled in their field, ask yourself if you really understand the basis of their skill. If not, you run the risk of being distracted by their observed surface behaviour. The more you investigate deeply in this way, the more likely you are to create your own unique path, building on all the ideas and resources available to you.

Final thoughts

It is very easy for us to get distracted by surface behaviours and latch on to the habits of other people as we look for quick fix solutions. What is more difficult is to seek out the true underpinnings of skill and carve your own unique path.