Think Imitation Is Wrong? Not So Fast!

There is a reason why we can buy knockoffs of designer handbags, sunglasses, watches and clothes. Why? Because the original items are worth imitating due to their quality and winning status.

But did you know imitating the behavior and traits of people we admire can also often be the first step toward achieving more success?  How so?  The people we admire are often worth imitating because they possess exemplary skills and traits!


Why Imitation?

One of the first concepts I discuss in my strategic program I call WINology is imitation (I cover this in detail in Chapter 2 of my book, WINology – World Class Performance).

From the time we are infants, we look at the people around us and use them as models for how we should act. After all, this is how we learn to dress, behave properly, and even learn to how to swim or ride a bike.

And beyond the basics of acceptable social behavior, imitation helps us learn who we want to be. How many times have you witnessed a child pretending to be a firefighter, famous athlete, teacher or other admirable person?

Well, it works for adults too! No, I don’t mean just because you admire your Italian neighbor who rides a Ducati motorcycle and woos women with his accent that you should adopt a fake accent and buy a bike!

What I mean is there are people in your world worth imitating because of the quality of their character. Imitation is the phase you pass through on your way to developing your own identity. 

For example, if you admire your boss because she is always able to soothe upset clients and resolve their concerns quickly, that’s a skill worth imitating! She probably has excellent listening skills, so she knows how to ask probing questions that “peel the onion” and get to the bottom of their concerns.


Imitation Leads to Integration

If you start out imitating the skills you admire, eventually those skills will become your own, modified to fit your individual personality.

So don’t think imitating others will be enough — imitation is basically just practice until you get it, and then the trait or skill becomes integrated into who you are, how you think, and how you act.


How to Choose Who to Imitate

Before you race out and start imitating people you admire, take a few moments to think about it first. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:

Look Beyond the Facade of Success

There are a plenty of heroes out there to emulate in every field – from scientists to athletes, businessmen to educators.

But the key to picking a role model is to identify the people who genuinely succeeded because of their hard work and abilities — not because of their birthright or circumstance.

Some people succeed because of deceitful actions or by taking advantage of others. So, look at how and why a person achieved, versus only looking at what they achieved.

What Traits Do You Want to Develop?

Before you can really choose who to imitate, you have to determine which skills or traits you want to develop or strengthen. For example, suppose a close friend is a master orator and can keep an audience entertained for hours. While you may admire his or her oratory skills, you’re not really interested in developing that skill yourself.

  • Identify a few character traits or skills of your own you want to improve.
  • Now think about who in your world is an exemplary master of those traits.

Read a Book or Two

If you’re struggling to find a person you know to emulate, don’t hesitate to read books written by people who have achieved greatness in their lives — these can be athletes, entrepreneurs, politicians, veterans, or people who have overcome extreme adversity.

As a matter of fact, I recommend you read a book or two because you’ll learn details about the skills and traits these winners have that got them to where they are. As part of my research for developing WINology, I read several books and articles about winners because I wanted to learn what they were doing differently from those they surpassed.

Identifying what deserves imitation will go a long way in shaping the person you want to become, so do your research. Study, hypothesize, and become a “scientist” of sorts on the keys to success! Winning is not luck – it’s a scientific process. I talk about the science of winning in my book, WINology, World Class Performance!

Who would you choose to imitate and why? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image quote attribution: Charles Caleb Colton, writer

Article Name
Think Imitation Is Wrong? Not So Fast!
Imitating the traits and behaviors of successful people is the first step to developing those traits yourself. Learn how imitation can help you achieve more success!