Steve Jobs was brilliant.   Elon Musk is brilliant. That's not news to you. But they were and are brilliant at driving their own vision. Not yours. Nor mine.

Jobs was a fanatic at delivering impeccable design. If I waited until my work was perfect, I'd never deliver. Musk is following a path building vehicles that just a few years ago were unimaginable. I don't have that kind of time to deliver my executive speaker coach services.

If I followed their path and made decisions the way they have, my business would have gone up in flames.

We do have a quality in common, though--a stubbornness to do things our way.

Copying someone else will never end well

A competitor of mine doggedly follows me. She questions colleagues about how I work and my plans for the future. She hovers over my social media accounts and website.

I want to share this with her (I know she will be reading this). Don't look to your answers from me. I'm on a different path than you. My success is not (or should not be) your tool for measurement.

Sure I've won a number of proposals that you were vying for. I suspect my winning them ticked you off. Those clients weren't a good fit for you. There are many others who are.

Of course, it's a compliment to be looked at as someone who has created a successful business and as a person to emulate.  But it is a false god and that's why I'm cautioning her to tread lightly following my footsteps. 

Follow your gut

Often in your business, you'll make decisions on your gut or intuition. It would be bad advice as a mentor to recommend you follow my gut instincts. You need to follow yours.

The path I've chosen to run my business has been to not look backwards (too often) or copy models of my competitors. I'm doing things my way with services such as my Presentation Crunch Time Intervention and for that reason create services that my competitors aren't able or want to.

Sure, you don't need to reinvent the wheel and it's okay to 'steal' frameworks, however, morph those frameworks into creating products and services that are an expression of you.

Remember too, from the outside things can look wonderfully rosy. They're not always. The blood, sweat, and tears it takes to achieve a nickel of success can be brutal and you wouldn't know that unless you had a good look inside the planning and operations. 

Create your own plan

I have a strong clear vision of where I want to be in five years. It's not the same place you want to be. I know the 'why' of my business and whom I want to work with. It's not the same as your five-year plan.

Like you, I've stacks of business books I pore over, read the latest online information, and often reach out to mentors. But here's the key, you need to pull out the gold - the nuggets that are the answers to YOUR problems and questions.

That's how Jobs put iPhones in our hands and Musk put drivers behind the wheel of Teslas. And how my clients stand behind a podium with confidence.

Published on: Jul 27, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.