Find your own path

During World War II, American soldiers landed on a remote island in the South Pacific to set up a temporary military base. It was here that the American soldiers met indigenous tribes, natives who had never come into contact with the modern world before.

The natives observed the American soldiers engaging in “rituals”, like marching around with rifles on their shoulders in formations.

The soldiers brought with them great wealth. They airdropped cargo such as medicine, weapons, manufactured clothing, and canned food. To the natives, it was as if the American soldiers had summoned the goods by magic. They literally fell from the heavens, after all.

The natives worked hard but were poor. They observed that the Americans did not work hard but instead carried out rituals and in return they received a shipment of wonderful things.

So, they natives copied the ritual hoping it would bring more cargo. They even maintained airstrips and built life-size replicas of airplanes from wood.

And, of course, no cargo ever returned.

It’s easy to look at a given situation and copy the circumstances associated with that success. A occurred, then B occurred. Therefore, A caused B.

The problem with copying is that you don’t understand why you’ve done what you’ve done. You’ve applied the solution without understanding the problem.

Listen to others. But then listen to yourself. Make your own mistakes. Learn as much as you can through your own experiments. You can’t fail running an experiment: there is always a result, always something to learn.

Don’t assume A caused B, like the natives of Tanna island did. You’ll learn far more by finding your own path.

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This entry is part of the 30 Day Writing Challenge, where I'm trying to write and publish every day during April. All my posts in this challenge can be found here.

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Marc Jenkins

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