May 06, 2022

The case for doing it on your own

Whatever career path that you have chosen in life, there are a lot of good reasons to seek mentors and outside help along the way.

You can learn from the countless mistakes others have made so that you don’t have to make them too. Someone who is already successful in the field that you have chosen can show you the way they made it and there are good odds that doing the same things will yield you a similar outcome.

Depending on the style of person you are, that might just be what you want out of life.

But if you like being original and hope to stumble upon a new way of doing things, perhaps you should try to carve your own path.

Seek inspiration from others but stay far enough removed that you have to figure a lot out yourself. You will repeat others’ mistakes. It will be a long, painful process. But if you find success this way, it will be more rewarding because it will be authentic.

In a passage from Range by David Epstien, Jack Cecchini, a jazz teacher who is one of the rare musicians that is world class in both jazz and classical music had this to say:

I get a lot of students from schools that are teaching jazz, and they all sound the same. They don’t seem to find their own voice. I think when you’re self-taught you experiment more, trying to find the same sound in different places, you learn how to solve problems.

It’s slow, but at the same time, there’s something to learning that way.

- Manchester, UK