First published on Chasing ED

Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Mo Farah, your parents, maybe even your teacher… The list of idols in our lives is endless. People who have been there and done that, people who live the life you want to live. Whatever the key to success is, they know it and they live it – don’t they?

“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of who you are.” – Kurt Cobain

“Role models and idols are important in life because they help to guide us. We can learn from what they have done and hope to recreate their success.” That is probably the expected answer if you ask someone why they have an idol. I agree it is extremely important to have an idol to look up to, to study and learn from. However, they are often taken too seriously.

Perfection is not attainable

If Bill Gates dropped out of university then to be successful I must, right? Ok, I am exaggerating. I doubt many people have dropped out of education purely because their idol did, however the principle is still in play in lots of situations.

It is easy to assume that the path your hero took is the ‘perfect path’. However in reality it may be the worst path for you, there are lots of different factors that need to be taken into account when making career decisions. It is up to you to work out what the best move is in your situation. That may include seeking advice or considering what others have done, however when considering an option also think about the number of people who didn’t succeed from that choice, they are almost always overlooked.

Question your idol

A common trait of successful people is the ability to constantly question and be curious, not being afraid to act differently and implement new methods. Consider this; no matter who you idol is, they could be smarter, funnier, stronger, improved in some way. They didn’t make all the correct choices, they haven’t always had the best outcome.

Challenge yourself to study successful people in your chosen career and look to see how they could improve, what they could have done better. You’ll be surprised at what you find.

“Give a man a fish..”

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

The principal behind this well-known quote holds true here; perhaps re-wording it may make it more applicable:

“Act as another has and you follow in their shadow; act as you decide and you’re open to the sun.”

When you are faced with a decision to make, you are forced to learn about your current position; environment, people around you, future prospect etc. This teaches you about your strengths and what needs changing. Only then will you be open to where you want to go and how to get there. Don’t get me wrong, having the sun in your eyes can be uncomfortable but without sunlight nothing will grow!

Metaphors aside; the future belongs to us individually and we must decide ourselves where we want to go, learning as much as we can on the way.