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It's not what Zune knows, it's how Zune thinks

We are often told to be original and be ourselves in our interviews, in our work. This is not a very sound piece of advice to receive when the person giving it doesn't know much about the original us. The original us simply may not be good enough. In this case, we have to look outside for inspiration and to understand what we ought to do to improve our chances of succeeding in whatever it is that we are pursuing.

The alternate path that many choose is to try and reach out to people who have successfully trudged down the path to the finish line before us and to learn the steps they took in their journey and aim to replicate those steps in our own journey.

Here's a line from The Truth about Marissa Mayer: An unauthorised Biography, that appeared in Business Insider a few days ago, that inspired this post.

“You know, you have it all wrong,” the counselor said to Mayer and the campers. “It’s not what Zune knows, it’s how Zune thinks.”

The counselor said that what made Nguyen so amazing wasn’t the facts that he knew, but rather how he approached the world and how he thought about problems. The counselor said the most remarkable thing about Nguyen was that you could put him in an entirely new environment or present him with an entirely new problem, and within a matter of minutes he would be asking the right questions and making the right observations.

We focus on the path taken by those before us, without understanding that it is not the path that matters. It is the reasoning behind choosing that path. After all, each person will have to take her own path that will resonate with her life so far. This is what is actually meant when we get advice asking us to be ourselves.

We learn a lot from failures. Only if we go down our own path with full understanding of why we're choosing it. If we go down a path defined by someone who reached success through it, without understanding if that is the best path for us, we will not even learn from the failure as we will attribute it to either not doing it right or to the person who defined the path. 

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