Monday, January 5, 2009

Key to Success

January 2, 2009
Becoming Just Awesome Part 9: Finding Role Models To Achieve Success In All Areas of Your Life in 2009
by Michelle RogersHappy New Year everyone! 2009 is here, and so is Part 9 in our 19-part FinerMinds series on Becoming Just Awesome. The weather may be cold and dreary where you’re living, but January, the first month of the New Year, represents an awesome opportunity for reflection, planning and action. There’s nothing dreary about that.

This week is all about the power of a good role model and how modeling their behavior can help you achieve your goals.

From the time you were a wee sprout crawling about your parents ankles, you were absorbing information about how to be and act in the world through observing your parents. For better or for worse, you learned a multitude of attitudes, beliefs and practices around such things as money, love, food, stress, communication, work, etc. And all of this learning was unconscious – you simply started to model them.

I imagine many of you have since reflected on this modeling process. You’ve reflected on your patterns of thinking and behaving as a function of the individuals who raised you. Some patterns have probably served you very well; others have probably not. That’s life.

The point here is not to level blame at your parents for your bad habits. Ruminating on the past and playing the blame game is not going to move you forward towards greater success, happiness and inner peace.

What is important is to understand how this modeling behavior works, because it is such a powerful force in how we learn and pick up new ways of being. You can consciously harness modeling to propel you towards your personal and professional goals.

How You Can Harness
the Power of a Good Role Model
1. Identify the Area You Want to Improve
The first step is to identify the skills, characteristics or patterns of thinking and behaving you want to improve. It can be one area or many. But try not to have too many areas or it can be overwhelming for you. For example, someone might have four areas they want to work on: 1) confidence and leadership; 2) physical and mental health and well-being; 3) financial management; and 4) relationships.

2. Choose Your Role Models
Chances are if you’ve identified an area you need to work on, you’ve done some thinking about this. You’re cognizant this area isn’t your strong suit. You’re also probably aware of individuals who possess these qualities or skills. Who do you admire and look up to when think about each area you want to improve? For each area, identify a role model. They can be individuals who you communicate with everyday – colleagues or even your partner – or individuals who you know through the media, whether CEOs, athletes, authors, educators, etc. And you may even harbor a smidgen of envy and resentment towards them. They have what you desperately want. Try to manage this. See these individuals as a golden opportunity to help you achieve what you desire. A final word: As much as you can, make sure your role models mirror your own core values (e.g. kindness, respect and compassion for others) or else it will make modeling them a disheartening endeavor.

3. Study What They Do
Consciously put your role model under the microscope. Really observe how they navigate through their lives – how they carry themselves, act and make decisions – particularly when it comes to the area you admire. You’re in luck if you get to encounter your role model on a day-to-day basis. But if you admire a public figure, try to learn as much as you can about this person through books and other media. For example, if you hold a certain famous person’s public speaking ability in high esteem, watch as many speeches as you can and take notes. How do they stand? Where do they look? How fast are they speaking? How do they grab the audience’s attention? How do they make their message come alive through the content of their speech? Breakdown what the person does, so you can work on these different components and model what they do.

4. Be Them
Yes, the idea of ‘being’ your role model might seem a bit odd. Of course you should always strive to be authentically you, but a little bit of acting every now and then can be a positive exercise. If you’re experiencing a moment where the abilities or skills that your role model possesses would come in handy, simply pretend you’re your role model. Channel this person – imagine what this person would feel like and then do what this person would do. You take the focus off of you (and the negative expectation you have built up about yourself in this area) and instead adopt a positive, confident frame of reference. Over time, this exercise will allow you to increase your confidence until it is actually you who possesses these traits and abilities.

5. From Role Model to Mentor
If you’re fortunate enough to have your role model within reach, make the effort to get to know them better. Ask them to have lunch with you or to go for coffee. And by all means ask them questions about how they do what they do. Chances are they will be completely flattered, and you’ll get the inside scoop on how they got to where they are today – you’ll learn about their influences, techniques, experiences, etc. Here’s another thing they’ll likely disclose: they too had role models and mentors along the way, individuals who guided and taught them. If you have more questions than you can cover in the span of a lunch break, ask this person if you can get together every so often to talk about the area you’re interested in. They’ll likely relish the good fortune of having someone to pass on their wisdom to.

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