Learning from people you admire

Silhouetted toy figuresIn times of change it becomes important to be able to take decisions based on incomplete information and without knowing how things are going to turn out. This prevents us from getting stuck and brings us more energy to move forward.

On top of the techniques of Chapters 1-3, Chapter 4 brings us four more approaches for choosing the best direction to move forward in. The first of these is to learn from people you admire. It comes in three stages.

Stage One is to choose between one and three people you have never met but whom you admire greatly: role models who taught you something important even though you never met them. They might still be alive or they could be people from the past.

For each one, write down or (better) discuss with a close friend or partner:

  1. Who do you admire?
  2. What are the values you admire in them?
  3. What flaws or weaknesses did or do they have?
  4. What, despite those flaws, did they manage to achieve that you admire them for?

Discussing this with someone you trust will enable them to ask you open questions (such as, “Why? What do you mean by that? Can you give me an example?”) that help you draw out and uncover what is most important to you.

For Stage Two, choose between one and three mentors, friends, leaders, teachers, or managers whom you have known in real life and who have taught you something that helped to shape the person you have become.

Again, either write down or discuss with a close friend or partner:

  1. Who is the person?
  2. What did he or she love that you loved them for loving?
  3. What were their flaws or weaknesses?
  4. What, despite those flaws, did they managed to achieve that you admire them for?

When you have completed these two stages, review your answers:

  • Reminding yourself of the qualities and achievements you admire in others will help you to choose a way forward for yourself.
  • Most importantly, it also reminds us that even the people we most admire have flaws. And despite those flaws, they still managed to achieve something worthwhile. If they can then so can we.

Would you like to improve your ability to take decisions based on incomplete information and without knowing how things are going to turn out? Discuss your answers to these questions with a friend.


Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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