Learning from people you admire

In a time of change it becomes increasingly important to be able to take decisions without knowing how things are going to turn out. This stops us getting stuck and it brings us more energy and inspiration to move forward.

One way to acquire this skill is by learning from people we admireWe can do this in three steps.

Step One: Identify People You Admire

Choose between one and three people you have never met but whom you admire greatly: role models who have taught you something important even though you never met them. (They might still be alive or they could be people from history.)

For each person write down or (better) discuss with a friend or colleague:

  1. Who is the person?
  2. What are the values you admire in them?
  3. What flaws or weaknesses did they or do they have?
  4. What, despite those flaws, have they achieved 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 matters most to you by asking open questions such as: “Why? What do you mean by that? Can you give me an example?”

Step Two: Identify People Who Helped to Shape You

Now choose between one and three friends, mentors, leaders, teachers, or managers who you have known in real life and who taught you something along the way that has 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 achieve that you admire them for?

Step Three: Compare, Contrast, and Focus

Now compare your answers. What stands out as particularly important to you?

Use that to remind yourself of three things:

  • What we admire in others shows us who or what we want like to become. This can help you find a way forward that inspires you.
  • What you think of as flaws and weaknesses in others shows you what you want to avoid in yourself. And the opposites of those qualities again make it clearer who you want to become.
  • Most importantly: realise that even the people we admire most are not perfect. And if they can still achieve something worthwhile then so can we.

We don’t need to wait to be perfect to start to do what matters most to us. All we need is to get clearer what that is — and begin.

Would you like to become better at taking decisions in times of change? Who do you most admire? Why? Who could you discuss that with?


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

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(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also need to practice.)


Photo By liladepo via StockPholio.net

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