Don’t follow in other’s footsteps because those are other’s footsteps. Your footsteps are yours; created by your feet. Simply, you can’t borrow other’s feet, can you? The answer is a big NO.
So, how can you follow other’s footsteps even if they are created by the wisest of all wise people? Instead of doing that, you should create your footsteps and walk through them.
If you blindly follow in other’s footsteps, you would end up reaching nowhere. You would not even know where the wise man has gone or whose footsteps you are following.
People often misread the famous quote of Matsuo Basho.
What Exactly did Matsuo Basho want to Convey?
Some three hundred years ago Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) once said “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.”
Basho was a great Japanese poet known for his haiku poems. He said not to simply follow in others’ footsteps, rather try to seek what they sought.
Everybody’s path is different, created by his own feet. When we follow other’s footsteps, especially, wise person, we should not only follow in his path but also try to understand what he conveyed, what he did, how he could create path towards greatness, and eventually towards enlightenment.
You should try to understand the internal meaning of great people’s life and work. You should not simply follow in their work or lifestyle; instead seek to understand how they could achieve greatness.
That would inspire you indirectly to create your footsteps by finding your path of journey.
Follow the First Mile: Create Your Next Miles
It is not always recommended that you should not follow/ get influenced by/ imitate others in the initial phase of your journey in whatever life or profession you are pursuing.
In the initial years, you should understand how the masters have traveled the path. But later you should create your footsteps or path of journey.
A scientist should understand what others have done and get acquainted with different styles propagated by others before he could create his/her style.
Here you don’t follow in the footsteps of others but understand the intricacies and inner meaning of others’ journey towards greatness.
Examples of Great People who Followed Others but Found their Path
In their initial phase of life, many great people including artists, singers, actors, scientists, etc. have followed the greats in their respective fields. They were influenced by the greats of their times.
They tried to follow others’ footsteps by imitating the greats for some time before having their style. They could create their aura and shed off the aura of greats under which they had once sheltered. This way they were successful to create their footsteps.
It is believed that the melody queen Lata Mangeshkar was inspired by K.L. Saigal’s music; Suman Kalyanpur & Asha Bhonsle were greatly influenced by Lata Mangeskar; Manoj Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, and Shahrukh Khan were imitating Dilip Kumar in many instances; Deb Mukherjee was so much infatuated by Shammi Kapoor style; Raj Kapoor had copied Charlie Chaplin.
The list is unending. Sachin Tendulkar was inspired by Sunil Gavaskar; Virender Sehwag copied legendary batsman Sachin; Varun Dhawan is copying Salman Khan and Govinda, and Tiger Shroff is copying Hrithik Roshan.
All these great artists and sports personalities have copied/ inspired by/ influenced by others in their initial phase of career or say they followed others’ footsteps but later they could create their footsteps or their style, casting their footprint and leaving behind the initial influencers.
A Guru can provide a Lantern but You have to Search Your Path
Most of us have one or more role models in our lives. To great success in our field of work, we search for a Guru who can show us the path towards success or enlightenment.
Once, OSHO said to his disciples – “a Guru can’t show you your path but can give you a lantern which will be helpful for you to search your path”.
Everybody’s path towards enlightenment is different. So, one must walk through his path with his own feet to reach his destination.
When voyaging through the pathway of wisdom, don’t follow in others’ footsteps. Seek what the great masters have sought. Seek the inner meaning of their footsteps, and not upon the steps themselves.
If you only follow the footsteps of others, you would end up creating a mirror image of their footprints.
In due course, you are bound to encounter unanticipated hindrances. But in seeking the meaning behind their footsteps, you’re sure to see a clear path ahead.
What Other Masters Opined about “Don’t follow in other’s footsteps”?
- Eileen Caddy, a spiritual teacher and new age author from Egypt once said “Never be afraid to tread the path alone. Know which is your path and follow it wherever it may lead you; do not feel you have to follow in someone else’s footsteps”.
- Saint-John Perse a French poet-diplomat and noble laureate opined that “A world to be born under your footsteps”.
- Pocahontas was a Native American woman who had has warned “If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew”.
- Karin Slaughter is an American crime writer who said “Don’t try to follow in my footsteps. Make your footsteps! No one else can tell the stories that are inside of you except for you”.
It’s quite clear that you should not follow others’ footsteps but try to read the underneath meaning of others’ journey or footsteps.
That way you can create your footsteps and find your path to journey, explore your own life and attain great heights as well as achieve enlightenment.