100 Ways To Live A Better Life – 90. Stop Being A Follower

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Admiring is nice. But being admired is even better. Stop trying to fit in other people’s shoes. Find your own path. If that means breaking up completely your lifestyle, so be it. If you are “like” somebody else you can’t be “like” yourself anymore.

A role model is as good as a kick in your ass. If it doesn’t act like this, if it doesn’t force you to advance, even in a disruptive way, this is not a role model. It’s an object of adulation and, if you ask me, adulation is a waste of time.

Too much admiring will take you off course eventually. Exercise caution when you appreciate somebody and see if it really gives you the urge to do the same or better. That’s what a role model should do.

Walking in somebody else’s footsteps will be incredibly boring and predictable at some point. Stop it before you reach that point.

Why It’s Difficult To Stop Being A Follower

Every story is different. Every person is unique. Thinking that a certain “blueprint for success” will work 100%, guaranteed, is a mistake. A mistake so subtle that we’re keep doing it over and over again, without even realizing (more on that in a second).

Fact is there is no “blueprint for success”. There is no guarantee that following the same steps a successful person followed will lead to the same results. You can’t “replicate” the success of another person.

What you can do, though, is to learn from their experience. To accumulate knowledge. That’s where admiring should lead to. Not to some dumb following, cheap imitation, mindless monkeying – as it does in 99% of the cases.

That’s the theory. And the theory sounds wonderful.

The problem is practice, not theory. In practice, we have a very hard time to just learn form somebody who’s been successful. Most of the time, we imitate.

And what generates this imitation process is not necessarily our need to be as successful as that person is. Because we don’t know how it feels to be that person (which is kind of obvious, if you think for a while – we don’t have what they have, hence we don’t know what it is that we think we want). We may believe that we’re attracted by their money, their houses, their lifestyle, but only at the conscious, at the somehow “superficial” level. Deep down, unconsciously, we’re thriving for something else.

We’re thriving for validation. We’re thriving for recognition. We want to be seen just like them: people who did something significant (that’s another “brain blunder”: thinking that only success is significant, and failure is not, but we’ll talk about this some other time, today we’re talking about dumb admiration and the courage to be yourself).

We look up to other people because we want to see us in their places. We want to be them. We want their power to change the world.

But in this process we forget something fundamental. We can’t be them. We are us.

If we become something else, we also cease to exist. We die.

So, admiring should be about understanding new paradigms, learning new things, enlarging our vision, smashing our ignorance.

All of these while keeping whatever makes us, us.

photo source: Philip Halling [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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