#17 The Clarity Sessions Podcast — Emulate Before You Innovate

There is a concept that I have been applying to my life in many different ways. It’s called: emulate before you innovate. Let’s break down those two words real quick.

Emulate means to follow a model — to implement a plan and follow somebody else’s process. Innovate means to create your own script, your own journey, your own path, but that shouldn’t be done until you emulate. Emulate before you innovate.

Here is an example…my team and I have been going through this process called EOS — the entrepreneur operating system. As we go through EOS, it’s really easy to try to come up with new ideas and say, “Oh, we’re not going to do it that way.” For example, they have a weekly 90-minute meeting. My first thought was, “Well, we have a 60-minute meeting, so let’s just do a 60-minute meeting.” But what I’m learning to do is emulate before I innovate — to follow the system before I try to change the system.

The reason for that is because I need to acknowledge that I’m a beginner in a lot of things that I do.  I need experience before I can make modifications. But what often happens is we’ll get a book, we’ll read the book, and we’ll only try a small percentage of what we read. Or we sign up for a coaching program or an online course and we try to innovate right away. Instead, what I’m learning is to emulate before you innovate. Follow somebody else who’s successful. Tony Robbins would say, “Success leaves clues.” And if you want the results that somebody else has in her life, just follow their behavior, follow their habits, follow their routines, emulate what they’re doing before you try to change what they’re doing or, specifically, before you try to change their system to fit you.

What if you just followed their system?

I mentioned EOS, the entrepreneur operating system. Their level 10 meeting is a 90-minute meeting. So we’re going to have a 90-minute meeting and follow their plan. The system has a visionary who is an integrator. They don’t call it a project manager or a chief operating officer. They call this role integrator. So we’re going to call it an integrator, too. We’re going to follow the plan; we’re going to emulate the plan before we start changing it because it’s well-worn knowledge. They have figured out what works and what doesn’t based on time, failure, and testing with a lot of people. So I want to stand on their shoulders instead of trying to figure it out on my own

Another example is that I’m leaning into this tool called TicTok, which is a social media platform mostly for video, comedy, and music. But we’re finding that messengers like you are starting to use this platform too. And instead of me coming with my preconceived notions and trying to do TikTok the way Brian Dixon would do TikTok, what I want to do is emulate before I innovate. I want to follow somebody else who’s successful. This doesn’t mean I copy, it just means I model my behavior after their posts so that I can get to know the platform and get a little bit of success before I start making changes.

You’ve got to learn the rules before you break the rules.

So how might emulating before you innovate apply to you? Let’s say for example that you’re trying to get clear on your finances in your business. Well, who already has a financial model that works? Search around. Is there a book? Is there a course? Is there a coaching program or some sort of methodology that you can follow? Once you’ve found a trusted source, implement the plan and give it a year. Say to yourself, “I’m going to go all-in on this plan. I’m going to follow this plan and we’re going to follow every step. I’m not going to question at every single lesson, but I’m just going to follow it.” Then do it and trust that you will get results because you’re following somebody else’s proven plan.

I saw my wife recently do this with her half marathon she ran. Instead of trying to make up her own plan, she found somebody who had good reviews, good testimonials, good results, and followed the plan step-by-step. And as she did, she would start to find things she wanted to change, but she emulated before she innovated, She followed somebody else’s plan before making up her own or before modifying it to fit her.

So for you, think about where you are stuck in your business. Is it finances? Is it social media advertising? Is it creating the next product? Is it landing the next client? Is it trying to get more stages to speak on? Once you’ve identified the problem, now you can go look for the solution. Let’s say stages as an example, “I want to speak on more stages.” Search out someone who trained people to get on more stages and say, “I’m going all-in on following their plan, following their proven process, emulating what they teach me until I get to a point where I’ve tried it. Some of it works, some of it hasn’t. And now I’m going to start making some modifications.”


What will you choose to emulate and stick with before you innovate? Tell us in the comments!

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