Over time, I’ve learned that there are many, many as to why comparing yourself to other people just isn’t a good idea. At the same time, it’s great to have role models – people who seem to be totally rocking the character traits, skills, attitude and behaviours that you want in your life.
One of the earliest NLP techniques I learned when I was trying to overcome my public speaking phobia, was to look to someone who seemed to be naturally good at this, and mimic their body language and speaking style, becoming them in my head. Side-note: I’ve had wavering levels of success with this strategy – sometimes finding that it worked well, but for the most part, it didn’t really feel right. I wanted to be a better version of me, not someone else.
So in general, that’s what I try to do now – be a better version of me, whilst using other people as inspiration. If someone has something I want, then I need to know how they got it so that I might replicate their success in my own way.
When I’m teaching, I’m watching those people who can inspire downtrodden teachers and disengaged kids; who get everything done while still maintaining a sunny demeanor; who handle the most hideous of situations and stresses with charm and grace.
When I’m at Jiu Jitsu, I’m looking at the people who absorb techniques at lightning speed; who just seem to have brilliant defence and attack; who always seem to be a few steps ahead.
When I’m teaching, I often tell the children that the best resource they have is often the person sitting right next to them. We can learn so much from each other.
At the same time it’s important to be realistic, and not make your role-models into otherworldly super-humans.
You are seeing this person in one specific situation, doing something that they happen to be particularly awesome at. Don’t imagine that they’re just as hot in every situation that life throws at them. The Jiu Jitsu superstar might well crumble in the teaching world, just as the world-class teacher might faint at the thought of someone attempting to ‘choke them out.’ Even the most able of us humans have at least one area of their lives where they’re failing in some way, or just not very good. Everyone has at least one thing that causes them to feel nervous, upset, defeated…
When you watch your role-model at work, you’re seeing a snapshot of their life. Like watching an actor in a film; it’s the character that you’re watching in the moment, not the actor underneath. It’s not a true reflection of who this person is all the time, in every situation.
Alongside this, recognise that you’re often looking at someone who is at the top of a mountain: you’re haven’t seen the climb up. Don’t assume that someone is naturally just great at something when you have no real idea of the struggles and hardships that they might have endured along the way.
Having role models is brilliant. Just know that they’re still just people: faults and all.
Knowing this might actually make stepping into their shoes a little more achievable.