Success leaves clues, but not all clues are relevant. You need to know what you’re looking for so you can find the parts that matter.
Success Leaves Clues
We live in a culture where it’s common to try to shortcut our way to success by modeling others. We seek out the people who have succeeded. We read their books. We take their courses. We seek to know exactly what they did so we can do it too.
Tony Robbins says that the best way to get a result is to find someone who got the result you desire and model them.
Success leaves clues.
It is true that success leaves clues. But when solving a mystery, not all clues are relevant.
If we see someone else who has had success, we know it’s possible. Why reinvent the wheel if someone else found the way that works?
It’s so tempting to latch on to what we see working for others.
Once we have invested in learning from a mentor, we may feel compelled to force ourselves into the structure that worked for that person. Especially if we know others who have achieved results from applying that process.
When The Process Doesn’t Work
When we see that our mentor’s structure or process isn’t working for us, it’s easy to fall into the familiar pattern of what’s wrong with me?
I’ve seen so many people fall into this trap. Including myself.
This is a conditioned response
This is culturally conditioned from a young age. Consider what happens when kids have problems keeping up or learning in school. What is the common response?
Typically it’s one of two:
- label them as “not as smart” and hold them back, or put them in a different class
- disgnose them with a “disorder”: ADHD, dyslexic, learning disability, etc.
That conditioning — that our failure to learn things in the way that other people learn them is our fault — sticks with us.
So when we are adults, and we find the mentor who obtained the results we want, and the structure isn’t working for us, we fall back to that pattern of believing that the problem is with us:
We aren’t trying hard enough.
We aren’t focused.
We aren’t open minded.
The approach we take with kids when they are young is easier than exploring the other possibilities:
- Maybe the teaching style isn’t aligned with how the child learns.
- Maybe the classroom is the wrong environment for how this child learns best.
- Maybe the teacher isn’t communicating effectively.
These possibilities exist in our adult world too.
Perhaps you’ve heard this saying:
Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.
It’s complete bullshit.
The ability to teach effectively is a separate skill from the ability to do something effectively. There isn’t necessarily causation or correlation between the two skills.
Some people are great at doing things but lack the skills of breaking down what they do. They can’t make their unconscious competence conscious.
Or, even if they can, they lack the skills to effectively communicate what they do.
Even if the mentor can communicate effectively, that mentor may not teach in a way that fits with how you learn best.
Or maybe the mentor’s process isn’t aligned for how you work best.
A Mentor is Only Half the Equation
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t look for mentors or read books or take courses. Modeling someone who achieved what we desire can be extraordinarily helpful, if we remember two things:
- there are no shortcuts
- no process works for everyone
The Other Half of the Equation is You
Everything you do must be supported by a foundational layer of self-awareness and self-examination.
Blindly following someone else’s method without regard to your own process is a recipe for struggle and self-doubt.
When you find someone who has the results you want, learn what that person is doing. Be open to finding a better way.
And also keep your ears open for your own voice — for your inner wisdom. Notice what feels aligned for you and what doesn’t feel aligned.
Take the parts that work. Leave the parts that don’t work.
Create your way.