Can You Copycat Your Way to Success?

Can You Copycat Your Way to Success?

“Why can’t I stay up as long as Jenny does?”
“Sam’s mommy lets him play with that toy. Can’t I, too? Puh-leeeeze???”

These questions, and others similar to it, are whined to asked of parents on a regular basis by their children. That whole sense of “I want what that person has” is pervasive in youth. In reality, it still sticks around in one form or another well into adulthood.

“I want to look like that famous person.”
“They have such a nice house. I wish we could live in a house like that, too.”
“Why can’t I have a job like Doug’s?”

Sometimes, that last thought has people resorting to desperate attempts to replicate someone else’s success. They try to get the same degree, belong to the same associations, use the same résumé. The problem for people who do this is — they are just copies. Nothing real is there if they are striving to be someone else.

It’s really sad when you think about it. These folks:

  • minimize the innovative solutions they have devised
  • downplay the unique set of experiences and education that have shaped their careers
  • underrate the contributions they have made to their companies
  • deemphasize the value they bring to their industry and people around them

Why would they do that?

1. They don’t recognize the value they bring to the table.

This is a tough one, and I get it. By far, the hardest writing I have to do is for this website. I can talk to my clients to learn more about them and pick up on the little nuggets of success that are important to telling their career story. That’s easy! But to do the same for myself when updating the content on my website? It’s much more challenging because I don’t have my clients’ perspectives. Things that they may be amazed by during our process, I see as run-of-the-mill.

My clients have the same issue with themselves. When I become excited about work they may have done on a project, they don’t get it at first. “Melissa,” they say, “I was just doing my job.” The fact that it was so effortless to them is part of the reason why they added tremendous value, but it’s hard to see it from a first-person point of view.

2. They think it’s the easy road to success.

I am left scratching my head over this. How can being a copy — an imitation — lead to success?

If too many job seekers use this tactic, they all start to blend together. Then guess what? They all get passed up for the person who is different, who shows that s/he can add something unique to the company.

This is not to say that a job seeker should not work to mirror aspects of the company culture. Knowing what corporate values are held dear and then conveying them in an interview will go a long way in the candidate demonstrating to the company how s/he would mesh well with the existing team. But too much of this can make it seem like a job seeker is pandering to a company and/or won’t add anything of substance to the team.

3. They’re getting caught up in the comparison game.

Comparisons can be beneficial if lessons are being learned in the process. Unfortunately, it all can quickly devolve into a competition where “keeping up with the Joneses” is the primary objective. When it becomes less about improving one’s abilities and more about having what other people have, persistent dissatisfaction is sure to follow.

Image courtesy of Lynn B.

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