In setting the context for today’s post, it helps if I take a moment to shamelessly promote the good work a bunch of us have started with Like Minds. Last week I went from having a great idea, commitments from some speakers, and the help of a really great co-founder (Drew Ellis, take a bow) – to having a kicking website, paying sponsors, expert panelists, and best of all, actual paid bookings. It’s been a momentous seven days or so, but it would’ve been impossible if I wasn’t standing on the shoulders of giants.
You see this past week I’ve written copy, created press releases, and masterminded panels, but none of this thinking has been original on my part. It has been a case of finding those who’ve already done it, and copying and pasting. (Thank you, Media140.)
Of course this isn’t a secret. In any industry, you first find your voice by listening to the others around you, finding out how you are similar to them, and then once you have some confidence, establishing how you are different to them. In the digital industry this just happens far faster, and the advent of social media has made this ‘adaptation’ way of working quite the norm as long as your attribute the original author.
There is, for some people though, something unsettling about this, and I want to uncover it. In my mind, it’s about this:
The Truth and Lie of Experience
There is an understanding that the person with experience is not at the mercy of the person without it. I agree. Experience certainly trumps theory, and my first year of business has all been about gainly costly wisdom where there was once just mere knowledge.
Yet a lack of experience does not mean that we are left without any clue. The whole point of parenting is to guide the child’s decision making by providing ‘inside knowledge’ of life. Fast forward twenty or thirty years, put yourself around some great mentors, and it’s the same thing – you are getting insider knowledge.
The amount of pain I’ve avoided, mistakes I’ve sidestepped, etc etc has been reduced by copying and pasting the experience of others. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of failures, and I’m glad I have – but I often wonder how far I would’ve gone without the luxury of borrowing others’ experience.
In turn, providing others with your experience is then what blogging is largely about. That’s what wikis are about. That’s what church and the Bible is about. Knowledge share. Experience share. Copy and paste.
The question, then, is two fold:
- Are you copying? If so, from where? If not: find people who you not only respect, but want to mimic in a small way. This means in person, through social media, through books and biographies, through documentaries, etc.
- Are you pasting? If so, to where? If not: begin taking time out to think. Map out your life and see where you could be pasting in advice and experience from others.
What I’m thrilled about is in addition to the mentors in my life, I’m also copy and pasting from wonderful people who’re commenting on this blog. In particular, Robin Dickinson and Jim Connolly. You guys are great.