Many people who are trying to grow are stuck in the “how.”
It’s possible that this is because it is the easiest question to ask. When you see something you want to replicate, or you see something you want to achieve, your impulse is to ask them “how” they did it.
We want to understand the simple steps that we can get so that we can get to that same place or be praised or accomplished in the same way as somebody else. It's only natural.
But I believe this deep assumption leaves us with two grave errors.
The first is that we merely seek to copy.
When asking how, our fantasies and visions are limited by what has already been done.
And if we know anything about innovation, not only is that less valuable, but it’s also impossible. Things can't be replicated twice exactly. And, you want to do something new, and by that it means you want to discover a new how, not just adhere to the old one.
It’s also limiting yourself to their success.
Why not go beyond it? Or rather, why not find your own version of success?
If there’s one thing it’s hard for us to internalize… It’s that success is not fixed.
The second reason is because we’re missing a massive amount of context.
The context of the entire history and set of skills a person brings to a craft. The context of their intentions, and their approach in how they are, not what they do.
The context of how they see the world.
This aspect is really hard to describe, so we instead default to the how. We're looking for a pattern when in reality most everything in art is a sample size of exactly one.
In business and in art, things are much more complex and context-dependent.
As they say, it is timing that is the hard part of investing, not making the investment. Because timing means you’re considering the most amount of variables, the full context.
When you see someone succeed, it’s much more important to understand the context of their vision.
Don’t ask for the how. Understand their why. Go a step deeper. Ask why again. Understand their intention, and question their understanding.
Your life is a rich landscape, and the decisions you make happen in the broader context of who you are, not just what you do.
If you could understand this aspect of yourself and others deeper, trust in it, and develop your own vision, I think you would be asking how from others less, and creating your own "how" more.
This post was inspired by Frank Chimero