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Correlation and Causation

When we set out on a certain path, we look at others who have done something similar before us in a successful way, both to draw inspiration and to learn what led to their success so that we can replicate it ourselves. 


This is where people look up to successful people / celebrities and try to recreate their own habits and behaviours to look similar to that of the people they are considering as role models. This could be following their morning routines, reading the same books as them, etc.

All these individual attributes that are deconstructed lie on the spectrum of merely correlation to absolute causation, where merely correlation indicates that the attribute (like waking up at 5 everyday) had absolutely no effect on the success and absolute causation indicates that the attribute was solely responsible for the success. 

Most attributes are usually not at either of these extremes, but somewhere in the middle as partial causation. Each attribute in itself wasn't solely responsible for the success, but it made a certain contribution. It is important to isolate which attributes had a big contribution while which had minor contributions. 

Then, there is the add-on effect. Some attributes, because they work well with other attributes, amplify each other and together have a bigger effect than each attribute individually would. This is where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It is important to identify such synergies. 

I still find it extremely useful to learn from the habits and practices of successful people whom I consider role models. However, I look at them with the above framework and try to find out which attributes had an outsized impact and which attributes had synergies with others. 

Because, those are the ones to inculcate in our own lives first. 

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