Even Kobe Was Never Jordan

Kobe was never Jordan. Because Kobe was Kobe. And Jordan was Jordan. We can compare the two. But a person is only ever themselves. 

It carries further. 

Lola Mure made the comment, “Even if you did the same trainings, spent the same hours and had the same philosophy as Michael Jordan, you’d never be him. You could be as good, but never the same. Just because you are you and he is him. That’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to imitate.”

It reminds me of Twyla Tharp’s story too. Tharp is known today as one of the great modern ballet choreographers. But as she explains in her book, The Creative Habit, she learned by stealing. 

In class, she realized she didn’t know anything. So she’d stand behind whoever was best and copy them. Relentlessly. 

I can’t tell if this note is from her book or Jeffrey Goins’ Real Artists Don’t Starve (where I believe I first found Tharp’s work), but know I’m copying this out of my personal notes,

You’re not an artist because you steal, you steal because you are an artist. The difference between an artist and a copycat is that the artist builds on the works she has received, and the copycat just mimics it. 

The artist builds on the work they’ve received. 

That’s the rule. 

Yes, honor your influence and cite your sources too, but BUILD. 

Kobe can’t be Jordan. You can’t be Kobe, or Jordan, or Tharp. But you can learn, you can copy, and you can create. 

You can build on the work you’ve received. 

The world needs you to. The world needs us, too. I feel it – do you?