Modeling After Others, The Right Way
From athletes to entrepreneurs, people often ask me how they can best follow in the footsteps of their favorites by doing what those people do.
Practice dribbling like Kyrie Irving.
Create content like Gary Vaynerchuk.
Shoot like Steph Curry.
Modeling after others is a great idea for three simple reasons.
- Others who have dive what you want to do provide a real-life blueprint, albeit a lose blueprint, for how to do it.
- Their success shows you that their strategy, at least in some ways, works.
- Following this person, you can get real-time updates on your subject’s new ideas and any details about/changes to their strategies and tactics.
The challenge with modeling though, especially in our social media word, is that we sometimes only have snippets on the big picture.
We see 15- and 60-second glimpses of people, noticing the bright, shiny objects, while conveniently missing (or ignoring, or not being shown) the unpretty grunt work or omitted details that make it all possible.
Modeling others to the best of our ability, even with limited information, has to be done the right way, taking in all the necessary pieces— especially the unsexy stuff.
Read on to learn how it’s done.
Though You’re Modeling, You Are Not Them
I got my jobs in professional basketball by attending exposure camps, incessantly emailing professional clubs, and repeating this process until something popped. But my career began in 2005, when the Internet was still pretty new, game footage was still on VHS tapes, and there were no blueprints for emailing teams (and not everyone was doing it yet). There was space for me to do what I did; it was unique.
It isn’t unique anymore.
It’s a little bit harder to stand out now, due to the sheer volume of players and ubiquity of recording devices available to us.
While I’ve supplied new blueprints for players to follow, I still get players asking me how they should go about following the same actions that I took back then. While nothing is stopping you from doing so, you’re jumping into a crowded pond that offers very little room for swimming.
When you’re following someone else’s path, always run that person’s actions through the filter of you being YOU. If you like how 50 Cent made his come up in music, for example, that doesn’t mean you should sell drugs or arrange to get yourself shot 9 times. Take what makes sense for who and where you are.
How can you make their strategy work for who and where you are?
Pick And Choose What To Model, But NOT By Convenience
Years ago, many basketball players had heard that Kyrie Irving allegedly had honed his ball handling skill by dribbling a basketball that was wrapped inside of a plastic bag. Would it help me, the player would ask, if I did the same?
First of all, I had no idea of that story was true or not, and frankly it doesn’t matter. Secondly, and more importantly, there’s a whole lot more to modeling Kyrie, or anyone else, than just dribbling a ball.
Putting a basketball in a plastic bag is easy; you could even get some cheap attention if you record your drills and put it on Instagram. But to be Kyrie, don’t forget the miles of early morning jogging, strength training, and practicing of the same shots and moves over and over again — stuff that isn’t on camera, but I know is required of anyone to “make it” in basketball.
The same applies to business.
A business owner once told me that he wanted to “start building my brand online like Gary V.” By that he meant, making spur-of-the-moment vlogs and doing live Q&As at a moment’s notice to bulk up the business owner’s YouTube channel and online presence.
Well, I asked, what about the years of public speaking, thinking, writing, and question-answering Gary was doing before he became so popular? You gonna do that too?
I’m still waiting on an answer from that guy.
When following in the footsteps of the successful, make sure you follow not only what’s easy to pick up on, but also the tedious, not-so-easy elements that may probably will make you uncomfortable.
If all the stuff they do was already easy for you, you’d already be doing it.
Modeling Is Not Suspension Of Thought
Though you’re modeling, you’re still yourself.
You’re still responsible for your thoughts, words and actions. You still need to consider how what they did would work for who, what and where you are today and in your future. You may not have the exact same goals as that other person, and you probably don’t have the exact same circumstances as them.
What makes sense for you? How does it apply to your life? What would be smart and what would not be? Ask these questions of yourself, then take action on the answers.
Modeling after other people is a smart hack for creating your own success. Just remember that, while doing this, you have to custom-fit actions borrowed from others to make sense for your own purposes — and that will require some critical thought.
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