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Working Under the Influence

working under the influenceWe all work under the influence of the masters who have come before us, or the ones that are alive and kicking right now.

We aim to emulate the best of what we see in pursuit of our own endeavors.

The key thing, it seems, is to take those lessons and use them…but also to create our own thing too.

We can study the way Steve Jobs gave a persuasive speech, but we shouldn’t emulate him directly. We should let his example flow through our own individuality and come out in a new way (slightly modified, or perhaps dramatically modified).

We should follow our inspirations and see where they lead. Often it’s not really everything someone does or teaches us, but some specific thing that we find interesting.

We pick up something here, another thing there. We follow different threads and go down different paths.

Each of them may seem to go in varying and unrelated directions. That’s ok.

They will all (or some or most) come together in our interpretation, in our creation.

I’m inspired by Keith Richards (musically and otherwise), and this post is very much some of my processing of the Netflix documentary, Keith Richards: Under The Influence (a great title!).

It was fascinating to see all his musical influences and how they flow through him to create new things that are unique, and uniquely Keith.

We should all do the same in our own endeavors.

How can we put that to practice this week?

Start with awareness.

As you work through the next report you write, presentation you give, or meeting you hold this week, contemplate your influences.

Who in your personal life and readings and life lessons influence how you approach that work?

Think on it a bit and you might be surprised at what turns up in your mind. (If I think about my writing, I can see that some of my favorite bloggers and authors are shining right through.)

Then, go a bit further and try figure out what your secret sauce is…where do your influences disappear and where does something uniquely you shine through? (I can see more of this now too, which is encouraging and helpful.)

Did you even notice that you invented something new in the way you do a certain thing or that you form a particular combination of things in a way that nobody else does?

This is no doubt happening, but you probably are either giving yourself too much credit or not enough in some areas. It’s helpful to try and break things down and see where the influences are and where you’re creating new stuff.

Once you take notice, you can build on each more deliberately.

Be inspired, be unique.