Are You Reverse Engineering Your Success?

Retracing Your Footsteps

Here's something interesting to know: most people overestimate what they can do in a year, and underestimate what they can achieve in 10.

This likely happens because humans have a hard time mapping out what brought us to where we are now, and therefore even though most of us have a vision of what we want our lives to be, we don't have a way of figuring out how to repeat and build on past success.

Enter reverse engineering; in a nutshell, the concept of RE is simple: you take apart an object to see how it works in order to duplicate or enhance the object.

The interesting part about this process, is that it need not be limited to certain fields or particular endeavors. It can very well be adapted for many different purposes.

Let's take success; when we define success, we all have differences as to what it means. Crafting a vision comes naturally, our imagination provides us with all we need to determine a desired outcome.

But when we take a closer look, and ask what the steps will be to get from point a to point b there are not a lot of answers that we come up with.

Here's where the wisdom of reverse engineering comes into play; when Maytag wants to make an electronic widget to compete with General Electric's widget, they buy several of GE's widgets, and take them apart. They run them, benchmark them, x-ray them, and subject every part of them to interpretive analysis. Why did they use this part? What is the function of this and that? How does this fit into that?

If you pay attention, there's an underlying assumption that's being made here and it's that all of the questions have answers. Everything has its reason to be, GE did nothing fruitlessly.

Surely you've heard the saying that "success leaves clues", this is a key realization if you want to leverage reverse engineering to achieve your vision.

A problem faced when people try to look for ways of getting what they want, is that they are so bent up in finding a new solution, that they overlook the answer that's staring at them in their face. Most likely somebody else has found a process, or come up with a solution that can be easily used to their particular circumstance.

Creativity does not mean reinventing the wheel, but in the ability to look at similar problems or opportunities from many vantage points and then modeling a successful process to bring it completion.

It's much easier to look at the life of people that you define as successful and break down the path they've followed into different components. You might even find patterns in what many of them are doing. You can then emulate what they did and take it as a road map to your success.

It also gives you the possibility of bringing in your own ideas to the board. You'll probably be amazed at the possibilities you'll begin to find.

Imagine that 50 years from now you'll be interviewed and asked for the "secret of your success"; this is a perfect opportunity for you to do some reverse engineering; you can retrace your footsteps, find out what you did that made a difference. And you can repeat this process over and over again with any problem you're faced with.

You have stepped out of the proverbial box that's always talked about. And it really didn't take much effort on your part, just a lot of questions and a willingness to take things apart.


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