Smart People Copy

If you look at many of the smart people throughout history, you’ll begin to realize that most of them were copiers. That’s right — copiers. History’s smartest people almost always found a way to copy ideas from others.

Ronald Reagan is a good example. Some of his best political work was borrowed work. Many of his famous one-liners and foreign policy strategies were copied directly from movies he stared in as a young man.

And yet, for some unknown reason, there’s this notion that copying ideas is somehow not good enough. It’s commonly believed that by copying other people’s hard work, you aren’t smart yourself. Yet the true smart people of history say the opposite.

It was Pablo Picasso who once said that “good artists copy; great artists steal.” This quote applies to more than just art.

Ideas are just building blocks. It doesn’t really matter how those blocks were made or who made them; it only matters that they’re made well enough to function as part of something bigger.

If ideas work, they work regardless of who came up with them to begin with. And if your purpose in life is to create something magnificent, then trying to figure it out all by yourself isn’t going to be enough. You have to use the recourses already made by others. You have copy and steal ideas of those smarter than you, applying them whenever you can.

This is a difficult concept to grasp. Not everyone likes the thought of using other people’s work for their own advantage. That’s because deep-down, they’re prideful.

They’re prideful enough to think they can figure out the world all by themselves. But the truth is, you can’t figure it out all by yourself. If you’re truly smart, you’ll copy the work of other people, doing your best to incorporate it into your daily life.