Role Models

When you think of the future you want for yourself, you naturally model it after celebrities, personalities, people you’ve read people you know, or people you want to know. To live is to be influenced. This much is a given. But how you absorb that influence makes all the difference.

Two way:

  1. You see Don Draper and you decide you want to be an ad executive. You see Nikki Minaj and you want to be a dancer. You remember your college professor who just had the most enviable sense of humor, who seemed to like his job and you want to teach English at a college. You want to be a writer not because you want to write, but because you want the lifestyle that you think a writer lives. You’re bound to struggle along the way, and when you arrive, if you ever do, it won’t be what you expected. Be careful that the likeness you’re after is not only superficial. Go deeper.
  2. There is another option. You observe the people you admire and you ask yourself why you admire them. Why they’re worth or admiration. You start to realize that you aren’t really attracted to the lives they lead, but to the principles that they lead them by. They can be things like freedom, authority, curiosity, erudition, efficiency, or sincerity. I can look at someone like Taleb or Ryan Holiday and see this all over them. But it doesn’t mean I need to be a trader or a marketer. Once you grasp the underlying principles, you’re free to pursue them in your own way. If I’m thinking deeper, I can admire a man like Richard Feynman and want to be like him without wanting to be a physicist. If I’m thinking superficially, I can’t.

The first way is rooted in fantasy. You allow yourself to buy into the deception of appearances. These deceptions are not always intentional, but they always are there trying to trip you up. The second approach is based firmly in reality. You see through the facades and understand just how it would feel to live a certain way.

Method 1

Why do you want to be an astronaut?

Because I want to be like John Glenn. He’s an American hero.

OK, that’s super vague, but whatever. If you’re thinking this way, the minute ‘astronaut’ gets ruled out because you don’t get the job, or you don’t have the right degree, or your eyesight isn’t good enough, you’re back to square one, feeling lost. Your dream was robbed from you.

Method 2

Why do you want to be an astronaut?

Because I want a life that is rich, mathematical, glamorous, and adventurous.

It’s a tall order, for sure, but if the whole astronaut thing doesn’t work out, you at least have a direction forward. Now in order to achieve your dream, you just need to steer your lifestyle toward the rich, mathemaical, glamourous, and adventurous.

See the difference?