Today, I am going to talk about one of the most critical topics I feel for success, copying mentors. One of the concepts that can accelerate your success the most, and probably one of the easiest. All that said, it is one that almost nobody does well or completely.
Let me explain this a little bit. Everybody agrees that it’s good and important to find a mentor. When you find a mentor, there’s really three possibilities when they make a recommendation or that you have something, that you have a question for them. Either it’s going to be very clear, and their advice is great, and you hadn’t thought about it, and it sounds reasonable to you, and you accept it. The other one in the opposite end is that it’s something that the mentor didn’t really know anything about it, but it is something that you know and understand, and it’s something that the mentor basically would just agree with you to go and follow your own path.
The middle one is the most critical area. That’s the area where I refer to as having a dichotomy between knowledge and wisdom. There’s nothing you can say to convince the mentor that your idea is correct or right, and there’s not a logical conclusion or a logical path that can get you to receive that mentor’s advice. That is: what is that critical area?
What I do in that situation is if I picked my mentor well and it’s in his area, I will pick and take their path, no matter how convinced I am that mine would be better but I can’t explain it, I can’t prove it. This really is a precept to getting into what I call copying mentors, and copying well.
Bear with me a moment as I explain how critical this topic is, and how well it’s been used by some people or countries or industries. Let me follow the Japanese. The Japanese have been very good at copying or mimicking other people’s products. Everybody knows about the car industry, but let’s think way back maybe 30-40 years, something like that. Originally, what the Japanese did is they started copying electronics, radios, etc. The Germans were the masters in that; they had all the great receivers, etc. but the Japanese decided to copy them.
What they did was they copied exactly to start out. They didn’t add their own flare to it at all until they had mastered the copy first. How else did they do that? They did it with watches. The Swiss had the watches, the Rolex, etc. Only after many, many years, the Japanese copying those very precisely, then they went on to make innovations or adaptations of them. It was only after they mastered that which already existed. Then they went on, of course, to do that in cameras and cars. In each case, they first copied very much so.
Actually, in Japanese, there’s a compliment that you can pay somebody by actually saying: “You copy well.” Where if you said that to an American engineer, he’d get very insulted and excited, etc. I actually have some stories in my forthcoming book about a General Manager in Chevrolet who actually tried to get some engineer just to do it the way it was already done, and how he had to fight with him for a month to get him to just copy something that already existed.
I’ve copied that exact same philosophy, those exact same ideas in things where I basically have tried to find the particular mentors, and it could have been in computer programming or it could have been in language, etc., I copied what I was told was the right way to do it by somebody who is knowledgeable. It worked very, very well for me.
Why do people seem to resist to it? They seem to resist because they always feel like: “I have a mind, too, and I thought…” Forget thinking for a moment. Save your thinking. Put it all down. First master what the master has already done. If you were to learn Karate or Taekwondo, a form of Karate or something like that – what would you do? You would go to the master, and you would mimic and do exactly what he said all the time. You wouldn’t say: “I thought I would do it a slightly different way.” That’s what you want to do when you’re mastering a lot of other things that are new for you in industry or business or success, the way you already know somebody that you can really like and trust, and see their success. Make sure, of course, that they do have that success before you follow them.
Yes, I’ve got a mind, too, and I really feel very comfortable with my mind, but I also know I can accelerate my learning dramatically by first getting down exactly what is done well. Let me give you an example of that. I went and actually invested in a company that had a product. It was a network marketing company. I didn’t even know what a network marketing company was at the time. Literally, I did not know. They invited me to something, I went, and there was a good friend of mine, and he told me: “Gee, better become a distributor because this is phenomenal. You’re at the very beginning.”
I went and did exactly that. I joined it, and I was there. It was in Vegas. I’m walking down the hall, and all of a sudden I realize and I say: “My god, I don’t even know what the heck this is. I’m going to be the biggest dud, biggest jerk in the industry or the company.” Here, the president of the company, everybody knows me.
What happened? There was a guy there, but he was paired up with me, introduced, etc. He was a master; really knew his stuff. He had been in many companies. He was the one brought in by the company to help them grow it. I just did exactly what he said. Actually, in about seven months from the startup, I became the number one distributor in the company. I didn’t invent anything. I just did exactly what I was told.
On the contrary, telling other people, these things usually have a script. I would tell other people what the script was, or I would tell with the new company that I happen to be with, I would explain to them and show them the script. I would go over to them and say: “Just follow it. Just do exactly what’s there. It’s proven. Every word has meaning, every word has an impact.” They come back: “Gee, it didn’t work.” Notice: “It didn’t work,” not that they didn’t work.
Then I’d say: “What did you say?” and I would get a reply like: “I did just what you said.” I said: “Let’s go over it. What’d you say?” What they would say would have nothing or very little to do with what was said there. I would sometimes sit next to people, handing them and putting down the script next to them, and they would get on the phone, and they would wander off on to something else and say something very different. They would not do what was already proven a success.
The same thing goes with sports and other things. I mentioned Karate, but also with baseball, etc. When people are learning… You take a look, again, how some of the Japanese come over here. When the Japanese come over here, you’ll notice that their form and everything is very, very precise; the way it’s supposed to be, supposedly. That ideal swing or the ideal fielding.
When I learned languages to begin with, actually I was taught Russian, the Russian Language School in Monterey, and they got up and they told us how, and they explained how people learn languages. They gave the analogy, they showed us: “Remember, and look, and watch. How a baby first learned its language, what does it do? You’ll see it in its mother’s arms, staring up at its mother’s mouth, mimicking the movements. That’s where it starts to learn.” The same thing going on.
They also told us that whenever we’re learning to speak the language, the only way you’re going to learn is for you to always, for the rest of your life, watch a native speaker’s mouth. Why? Because it’s those mouth movements that are different from your own. Different syllables, different language, so they’re different than yours, but your brain will pick up on them and you will learn them over time. I did exactly that when I was learning Japanese.
Learning programming, the same thing. What would happen was there was a former IBM engineer as my office mate at Berkeley, and he basically taught me, gave me the beginnings of programming. I just listened to and did exactly what he told me, the way he told me to do it. Then I assimilate. I learned through his methodology.
Then several years later, quite a few years later, actually programming itself changed from something we call object-oriented programming. I didn’t know what this was. It was very different, a very different method of thinking and everything else. What did I do? I sought out one of the best people that taught object-oriented programming, and that’s what I did. I just copied exactly what she said and did, I went through her book to copy her methodology, her approach, and then only later on did I start adapting and using that. I still was in the framework. I accelerated greatly my ideas and my learning by mimicking and copying what she had already done.
This, I am sure, is probably one of the most controversial topics, because most people just can’t stomach the idea of just copying mentors. I can do it. You can, too. It will accelerate your learning a great deal. There’s going to be many questions about it. Go to www.LifeUnsettled.com, the website there for this episode, go and add comments, give your thoughts, let me know what your questions are, and ideas and thoughts are.
This is one way that if you’re willing to do it… Just think of it: you have something new you’ve got to do. You find somebody who can do it and has proven they can do it well, and you just copy it to the point of success. I’m not saying copy somebody’s business. You’re talking about methodology or something. If somebody’s doing a particular type of business and you’re just going to copy exactly what they do, that may or may not work; there’s problems with market share, etc. I’m talking about skills and how to do something. This is one of the easiest, best ways.
Imagine if you could do it as well as the person you consider a master or a mentor. Only when you get to that point, you’ve gained the confidence, knowledge, and skillset, then you can make adjustments and adaptations to that.
Try it out, copying a mentor. Try it out, but not for a day or two. Try it out and make sure you get it done, and let me know how it went. If you have any questions about it, again, go to the comment section on www.LifeUnsettled.com, leave the questions with comments to me. Thank you.
Master what the master has already done!
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