You know that warm, bright feeling you get when you see someone do something amazing? The feeling that, if it had a face, would tilt its head to one side and say through a half-crooked smile, wow. you are incredible! That’s admiration.
It’s not envy. It’s not jealousy. It’s not covetous. Or greed. Admiration is full-hearted. And says, without reservation, good for you! And it also says, silently, I want that, too.
Admiration is a window into your heart’s desire and a door that opens your mind to instruction.
It helps you identify who you would like to learn from, and primes you to take in everything they have to offer. It is critical, therefore, that you deploy the full force of your curiosity to uncover exactly what it is about this person (or organization) that you admire. Surely it isn’t everything. Guaranteed there are aspects of this person’s life that you would never want to relive, character traits that are too dissimilar from your own to make a total-life-swap desirable. And yet, you admire. You want something that they’ve got. What is it?
Naming the thing you admire, and not just the person, puts you on the path toward achieving it. It can be incredibly useful when you feel stuck, or don’t know what to do next, to ask yourself, what would so-and-so do in this situation? It can be completely life-changing to seek them out as a mentor. But only if you are clear, up front, about what you want to learn.
Following too closely in someone else's footsteps can leave you burred hip deep in the snow.
So, how do you do it? How do you uncover and name the things you admire about the people you admire and set yourself up to become what you want to become?
Tell yourself their story. Write it down even. And then go back and circle the themes.
Our brains are naturally selective about what we observe, store, and remember. There is far too much information pouring into each of our five senses at every moment to make sense of even a large fraction. The world around us and the feelings and thoughts within us are Niagara Falls. And our vast mental resources can take in - at most - the flow from a standard garden hose.
And so the brain filters. Based on what we are doing. On our past experience. On what has been important to us in similar situations. And based on what we want to accomplish in the future.
No matter how many times you have heard or read or watched the story of the object of your admiration, you could not possibly take in it all. You digested what was important the first time. And every subsequent time you’ve filled in around the edges and reinforced the things that you found important.
So write for yourself their story. And go back and circle the themes.
What is jumping out for you? And how do you feel when you think about that action or idea or character trait? Are you impressed? Are you energized? Are you thinking, me too, I want that, too!? You’ve found it! Your admiration. And a window into what you want most dearly to do.
You can repeat this trick for every area of your life. Who are the leaders you admire? What did they do that caused you to pick them? Which business owners do you admire? What is the story of their success? Who are the parents or couples you admire? What about their relationships inspires you? What behaviors or characteristics did you identify with most strongly? How can you implement those behaviors in your own life? Does it feel exciting to think about doing so?
What can you do? How will you do it? And then you’re on your way!
It also can be diagnostic to think about the other themes. The things you remember about people that do not resonate with you. The things that make you think, ugh, I hope I never… The trouble is, useful as it is to know what not to do, that type of thinking lacks energy. It lacks movement. It keeps you where you are, not doing things. So yes, make that mental check-list, and then get back to work uncovering what you admire. And get on the pathway to doing the things you aspire to do.
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The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms (affiliate link) by Danielle LaPorte
Getting There: A Book of Mentors by Gillian Zoe Segal
Mastery by Robert Greene
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath