Learning from people you admire

Silhouetted toy figuresIn a time of massive change it becomes important to be able to take decisions without knowing how things are going to turn out, plus and with limited information, ambiguity, and possibly under pressure.

This stops us getting stuck and brings us more energy to move forward.

As well as the tools of Chapters 1-3, Chapter 4 brings us four more approaches for choosing the best direction to move forward. The first of these is to learn from people you admire.

You can do this in three steps.

Step One:

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 could be people who are still alive or people from the past.)

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

  1. Who do you admire, even though you never met them?
  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?

If you discuss this with someone you trust they will be able to help you draw out and uncover what is most important to you by asking open questions such as: “Why? What do you mean by that? Can you give me an example?”

Step Two:

Choose between one and three mentors, friends, leaders, teachers, or managers whom you have known in real life and who 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?

Step Three:

Now compare your answers. What stands out to you?

  • Noticing the qualities and achievements you admire in others will help you to choose a way forward for yourself.
  • Noticing what you think of as flaws and weaknesses shows you you what you want to avoid — the opposites of these show you the direction you want to face
  • Most importantly, notice that even the people we admire most are not perfect. But still they manage to achieve something worthwhile, despite their flaws. If they can, so can we. We don’t need to be perfect.

Would you like to become better at taking decisions in times of change?

Would it be worth discussing your answers to these questions with a friend or colleague?


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

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