Insight imitation

What got you here won’t get you there is an aphorism that indicates the changing the nature of the games we play. Strategies that get a person off the poverty line won’t get him a six-figure salary. The strategies required to lock in a six-figure salary are not the same as the strategies required to build a seven- or eight-figure business. The rules of the slum are not the rules of the boardroom.

A subtle modification of the above aphorism has been rattling around my skull recently: What got me here won’t get you here. In other words, paths to insight cannot be imitated.

We all agree that no two people see the world the same way. Even twins brought up by the same people in the same environment process their experience in drastically different ways. Yet we fall for the seductive idea that if X has read Y and done Z, then we too can read Y and do Z and end up in the same position. Nope.

If I admire someone’s ability to decipher illegible domains of political activity and want to have that same ability, I can’t just read what they read. I can’t just study what they study. I can’t just build relationships with the people they have built relationships with. I have to forge my own path. Yes, the path may run in parallel to theirs, but it is still outside of and distinct from theirs.

What got me here won’t get you here.