How to Master Your Craft by Copying Others: 6 Practical Tips

Lessons from Decoding Greatness by Ron Friedman

post written by:  Ken@ProductivityBird

Do you want to have a higher chance of achieving success?

“Success leaves clues. Go figure out what someone who was successful did, and model it. Improve it, but learn their steps.” - Tony Robbins

In Ron Friedman’s best-selling book Decoding Greatness: How the Best in the World Reverse Engineer Success, he revealed practical and brilliant ideas on how to “copy” or “steal” other people’s success, the “right” way.

Let’s now look at those powerful tips:

1. Collect great things (articles, songs, products, businesses) that you want to copy

“To know what we find impactful, we first need examples to study, so we can identify what they have in common.” - Ron Friedman

(Let’s assume your goal is to “write a great blog post”. You can use these tips for writing songs, developing apps, and creating successful businesses.) To write a good blog post, you first have to create blog posts that you think are great.

2. Find out the structure for the great things you have collected

Figure out the pattern or the list of necessary ingredients of the great blog posts you have collected. For example, you may write down something like this:

  • title: catchy and shorter than 65 characters
  • introduction: short and contains a great quote
  • content: listicle style, easy to read, 1000 - 1500 words
  • conclusion: 2-5 sentence recap, motivational, optionally end with a motivational question or a motivational quote

3. Ask yourself what makes the great thing better than other similar things

Look at a piece of great blog post that you have collected. Compare it to a good blog post that has the same topic. What makes the great one better than the good one? The differences may be the secret sauce that you need to pay attention to.

4. Practice by reproducing the great things

To become good, you have to practice. A great way to practice is to try to remake the thing that you think is great. You can learn a lot by doing that. Try writing a blog post with the same topic as the great blog post you are studying. Try applying the same structure and the same secret sauce. When you are done, compare and reflect.

5. Create your own great thing by applying what you have learned and add your own flavor

Now, you have learned the structure of a great blog post, its secret sauce. You also have a great feel of how a great blog post is created by remaking it. This is your formula. It’s time to create your own work by applying that formula. Add some of your own flavor to make it your work. Sometimes, you don’t even have to very intentionally add in your own flavor. You would very likely do that unconsciously.

6. Measure your progress

“The simple act of selecting measures, collecting data, and reflecting on the results is bound to lead to improvement.” - Ron Friedman

If you measure your progress, you will have a better chance to improve. Don’t only track metrics that can both directly reflect your success (these measures are called lag measures; e.g. number of blog visitors), but also track metrics that you have good control of (these measures are called lead measures; e.g. amount of hours you spend on writing each day). Very often, putting more focus on lead measures gives a better chance to

To learn more about goals, lead measures, lag measures, and scoreboards, check out this article The True Way to Build a Business from The 4 Disciplines of Execution (You can apply the 4 disciplines of execution to any type of work, not just to your business).

Final Thoughts

Learning from other people’s best work is an efficient way to improve yourself. The tips mentioned above are simple and practical. They can point you in the right direction but that doesn’t mean that the road has suddenly become very easy.

Are you willing to put in the work consistently?

Ken@ProductivityBird shares ideas about productivity and mindfulness that he has learned from books and his own experience on ProductivityBird.
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