I never wanted to be the next…

I never wanted to be the next Bruce Lee. I just wanted to be the first Jackie Chan.Jackie Chan

What does that mean?
This speaks to me of the challenge of being an original in a world full of pigeon holes.  Asian martial artist, that must be the next Bruce Lee.  Black guy on guitar, that must be the next Jimi Hendrix.  And how many careers were ruined with the label of “the next Bob Dylan”?

Can’t anyone just be themselves anymore?  A lot of that has to do with marketing, but it also has a lot to do with the human brain and how it stores information.  It is easier to remember someone if we associate them with an established person than it is to keep track of everyone as an individual.  I use this trick to remember a new person’s name, associating their face with a face I remember the name of, and by association, the new person’s name as well.

Why is originality important?
It also shows up in families.  How many of you have heard, or worse yet, said “Why can’t you be more like (someone else)?”  It can be to a friend, a family member, or worse yet, one of your kids (and referring to another one of your kids), but the result is the same.  Aren’t you telling them that they aren’t as good as the other person, that they would have more value if they were more like some one else, and less like them selves?  Ouch.

Originality is the ability to see what everyone else sees, but find something new or different.  To see the notes, but hear the music.  To see the painting, but feel the emotion within it.  Yes, those are trivial examples, but I’m trying to find things that most of you will recognize and be able to understand.

An original design would be the Edsel.  Might not have been the prettiest car, even by the gaudy styles of the day, but it was definitely original.  Might have sold better if it looked more like a Ford, right?

In the corporate world, as shown in the classic Apple ad, originality is often frowned on, even to the point of being a firing offense.  It’s the same in Hollywood.  You’re an Action type, a Drama type or a Comedy type, and you’re not allowed to cross over.  How well have any of the Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy movies done? Yes, he did several, I can think of three without looking it up.  Can you name one?  But you can name a dozen or so action flicks, right?

So Jackie’s problem was carving out some space to be himself, to be something other than Bruce Lee.  Jackie has (from what I can tell from watching both of their movies) a very different approach to life and to film making than did Bruce.  So Jackie probably disappointed some people, who probably said that the movie would have been better if he had been more like Bruce Lee.  Big deal.  Now everyone knows what they’re going to get in a Jackie Chan movie, and looks forward to his unique, original style.

Where can I apply this in my life?
If you have any hangups on being more like someone else, please stop.  Be yourself.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t become a better you by taking on some attributes of some one else.  I would love to be a little more like Warren Buffett (finance, philanthropic), or Walter Payton (athletic, philanthropic) but that’s not likely to happen (because I’m not that gifted, nor will I be able to put in that kind of effort over a great number of years to achieve those results).  But I remain myself.  I try to become a better me by following a mentor, but not being part of the herd.  Does that make sense?

Yes, it’s a fine line between being yourself, no matter what, and finding qualities in others you wish to emulate.  But in that mix, there is originality.  Finding your own path is rarely easy.  That’s why we have categories for people who behave the same.  They do it because it’s easier to do what everyone else around them are doing, and they just follow the leader.

Most of us have at least a little more originality than that.  One of my favorite images is a cartoon of a bunch of lemmings heading into the water, but one is looking out of the screen with a smile and is wearing a life preserver.  If you have to follow the crowd, there is still a little room for originality.  A friend of mine, when forced to wear a suit, has a button with a rude or crass saying on it pinned to the back of the lapel.  Just to be a little different, to show some originality (although rarely show the button).

Not that anti-social buttons are the only way to go, but you have to find some kind of spark.  You don’t have to stand out, either.  Very few people know about the button under the lapel.  Just the having of the button is part of the spark.

What makes you different from your friends and your family?  If you tell good jokes, that doesn’t mean to be original you have to tell jokes all the time.  Just often enough that they don’t mistake you for your cousin.  Find little things you can do, collect or have that make you a little different.  In my cube at work, I have a couple different things (besides my kid’s artwork) to dress it up and make it unique in the office.  My cars have all had a custom touch, even if it was a chunk of sheet aluminum screwed on over a rust hole.

Yeah, I’m an original, how about you?  Now, I have to wonder, who is going to be the next Jackie Chan? 8)

From: Twitter, @GreatestQuotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jackiechan410598.html


About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
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One Response to I never wanted to be the next…

  1. Pingback: In everything truth surpasses the imitation and copy. | philosiblog

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