How to have a role model and actually learn something from it.

Have you ever admired somebody? I bet that at anything you tried to learn and master you watched carefully at those who did it way better than you. Everybody admires someone, everybody has a few role models. This is because of the human natural tendency to improve and feel fulfilled.

But having role models is not enough, you should actually ‘use them’ (I know how silly that sounds) and get something good from it. Focusing on people that are more advanced than you – your role models – will be intuitive after reading this. Let me help you.

Credit Oberazzi.

I’ll give you a few tips on ‘how to use’ a role model so you learn faster:

  1. Watch. This is probably the easiest, yet the most important one, thing you can do to learn from your role model. Watch so you know what they’re capable of do and you can have a direction to go. Set goals based on what you watch.
  2. Compare. Mastery is about little, subtle things. Don’t look for the tricks. Instead, watch your role model execute the basics and compare it to how you do it. Anyone can do a trick, but mastery is about the basics.
  3. Ask. If you are too good to ask for help and advice, forget learning. Do you have a problem? Don’t beat your head against the wall. There’s a lot of people in this world who have walked the path before you, and had a similar problem – if not the same. The clever thing to do is to ask, to make yourself a fool and admit that you can’t do it right now. Ask them for help, they will give you advice that will save you a lot of time.
  4. Tell. Instead of asking, you can also talk with them about the subject you both are passionate about. Thus, you will have a new friend who you will enjoy talking to. As you are talking you will inevitably say how you do something. Don’t be afraid, if you give an ‘I want to learn’ vibe he or she will notice it and the role model will rock your world with tons of things you can improve. A master sees in a second thousands of things that a newbie can improve.
  5. Show. Say to your role model that you want to show him or her what you can do and that you want some advice. Execute the thing. It’s similar – but better – to the tip above.
  6. Give. If you ‘are friends’ with your role model because you see him/her as a means to you learning you won’t get anything in the long-term. Don’t think about how can them help you. Help them, in a real authentic way, they will return because, you know what?, most people are really nice and kind ;].
  7. Understand. With all the advice, with everything you see, try to form strong principles. Try to understand what is more important and what works in each situation. This you will create a value system, that is like a personal role model.
  8. Imitate. Repeat exactly what they until you do something very similar. If you doubt, continue to repeat.

Those are the principles I apply to my learning and to teach. If you want more information on the topic start by reading my mate’s post The Law of Average Joes and then get the book Mastery, by George Leonard. Next time you admire someone apply these principles and you will get so good, if not more, than that person. And remember that, as my sifu says: ‘You can learn from everybody. I learn even from a white belt.’

Do you have any other ideas about the proper use of a role model? Write them in the comments section!