Ryan Rodenbaugh's personal site

Copy, Paste and Modify

There was a comment I read on Producthunt.com a while back, that really stuck with me.


This comment was in reference to a product that showed you the morning routines of successful people (think: Bill Gates, Michelle Obama, etc.) and then allowed users to model their own routines off of these other people’s.

As someone who is a big listener/reader of Tim Ferriss, I must admit that a lot of my daily routines are modeled off of the routines of already successful people and I have found this to be a very effective way to built new and improve upon old habits.  That is, for many, we enter the real world (which is a different point for many, but usually the point at which we move out of our parents’ house) without a good sense of routine.

In high school, I was up early everyday because I had to catch the bus at 7:30. This carried over into the weekends and in turn, my senior yearbook quote was “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” What I did not realize though was that this was not my routine, this was the routine that school had set for me. When I went away to college the next year and didn’t have a class before noon, I realized that I was a bit lazier than I thought. I quickly learned that this routine wasn’t great for me (I find something about starting the day around noon to be extremely depressing). I turned to the routines of successful people to help me craft a routine. I took bits and pieces of different routines I liked (maybe some from Naval Ravikant, some from Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc.) and made one that worked for me. At no point did I ever think that by just cut and pasting someone else’s routine onto my own life, I would become like them, but I did think it would help to point me in the right direction.

I think the same goes for topics like dieting, workouts, book recommendations, etc. When I re-fell in love with reading, I read recommendations from really successful people, which lead to me finding really interesting books on my own.
My old fraternity President and friend (Alex Mallison) summed this idea up very nicely once. He was speaking to the chapter about the fraternity values (friendship, knowledge, service, morality, excellence). He encouraged us all to follow them in our decision making, but added an important caveat, which was that if we already had a firm set of values instilled in us, to follow those instead. The lesson was to follow whichever values felt more natural and worked for us. He added that, coming into college, a lot of young men are looking for guidance and are at this coming of age point and that the 5 fraternity values served as a great placeholder as we set out to discover the values that truly mattered to us. I have carried that same lesson into how I think about other parts of my life. I’ve tried many different diets, workout plans, reading habits, and sleep schedules all molded off of the “greats” and not one of them has worked 100% perfectly for me, but I have taken bits and pieces of each and crafted my own unique set of habits. Hopefully, one day someone will be able to use my habits as a part of their own!

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First published on August 3, 2017