Successful people in every field have certain characteristics in common. These common characteristics do not occur by chance, they are an integral part of goal attainment. It is worth your time to analyze the constructive characteristics of people who are now where you would like to be—role models. These are people to admire and emulate. Your choices can include people who are dead or living as long as you are familiar with their personalities and accomplishments.

Harry Truman knew the value of role models. When he was in the White House he reportedly went into the Lincoln bedroom, looked at the late president’s picture and asked, “What would Lincoln have done if he were in my situation?” The answers to this question gave Truman the insight and direction he was seeking. It worked because Truman felt Lincoln was a man worth emulating.

In choosing a role model, several things must be kept in mind:
1 — Keep them off the pedestal. There is no doubt that you will choose people whom you see as being “above” you because of what they have accomplished. That is good. What is not good is to put them on a pedestal, thereby making them larger than life. We are all human. We all have strengths and weaknesses. You must not lose this perspective on people. Putting them on pedestals only further separates you from them.

2 — Isolate their strong points. You need to look at that person you wish to emulate and analyze the precise qualities he or she possesses which you need to acquire. Sit down and write out the characteristics that seem to encourage their success. Use concrete examples of their behaviors that you can adapt to our own situation.

3 — Remain yourself. Quite often the tendency when admiring someone is to try to become his or her clone. People who seem to “have it all together” have done all the “work” for you. It seems that all you have to do is imitate them. This is a dangerous way to think because you are not working on your own personality.

In the final analysis, you are you. It is impossible to become exactly like someone else. And why should you want to? Remain yourself while you acquire new traits to help you achieve your goals.

Sometimes it is helpful to have a symbol of another person’s virtues. This symbol will actually remind you of that person and his or her qualities. It can take the form of a picture, a possession (e.g., your father’s pocket watch), or some abstract thing such as a rock. It will be useful as long as it makes the association in your mind.

©2001-03, Tony Alessandra

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