William Liao

February 25, 2022

originality

Charlie Munger has a famous quote, “mimicking the herd invites regression to the mean.”

Another way of translating his words is: “copying what most do will give you the results that most get — average results.”

Average, by the way, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Average is actually a good starting point. 

In the early stages of learning, we mimic — we’re doing as the experts do to understand the craft we are learning. 

After a certain point, though, the same habit of mimicry that served your learning journey is also the same habit that holds you (and many) back. 

In the long run…

Businesses don’t get rewarded for duplicating another business’ offerings.
Artists don’t get rewarded for producing identical art. 

The opposite of Munger’s quote might sound something like this: “deviating from the herd invites transcendence beyond the mean.” 

Or, put another way: “being original invites getting extraordinary results — sometimes, by the way, extraordinarily bad results.” 

Originality, by definition, is untranslatable. 

It represents something unlike what is known. 

It’s a remix of existing ideas. 

It’s an addition. 

It’s an act of courage that accepts the necessary risk of rejection — of flopping — in exchange for the chance to be great.