When it comes to choosing the right role model, I see too many people choosing … the wrong one. It’s a trend that’s been exacerbated by the online world.
That’s because if someone is smart about building an online profile, they get exposure and visibility. However, it’s so important not to confuse “profile” with “success”.
Here’s an example. I was talking to my friend, Alice (not her real name). She talked about how inspired she was about the journey of a famous blogger/startup entrepreneur who has managed to carve out an enviable lifestyle travelling the world and running his business from his laptop. We’ll call him John.
As a result, Alice modelled her blog and her business on John’s. She wrote headlines, just like John’s. She talked about creating products, just like John’s. And I began to notice certain graphics and phrases creep into her blog that looked eerily like those I’d seen on John’s blog.
Alice aspires to have a healthy income well in excess of six figures. (You know, closer to seven figures.) She wants to make enough money to invest in long-term assets, and she has plans to create a mini-empire.
The trouble is that she’s modelling herself after the wrong person.
It came to a head for Alice one day. Excited to hear that her role model was coming to town to speak at an event, she booked a ticket straight away. With notepad at the ready – and sitting in the front row no less – she was determined to document any pearls of wisdom he might have uttered.
“Then it all came crashing down,” she told me. “He said something that hit me like a tonne of bricks.”
I waited with bated breath.
“He said that he loves his lifestyle because he gets to blog, travel and earn $50,000 a year. I was in shock. There’s nothing wrong with earning $50,000 a year but the impression I had was that he was earning at least over $1,000,000. I already earn more than he does from my blog. Why am I trying to be like him?”
Alice’s illusions were shattered. She had been modelling the monetisation of her blog on someone who was not as financially successful as she was.
Yes, she learnt a travel hack or two from her role model, but ultimately, she realised that his visibility and profile clouded her perception.
She assumed that just because he was high profile – featured in articles, interviewed on podcasts and speaking at events – he must have been successful. Or rather, HER definition of successful.
Alice’s misconception wasn’t this guy’s fault. He just did a great job of building his profile.
It’s easy to blindly admire the entrepreneur du jour, just because everyone else is. Or because they produce slick videos. Or an awesome podcast.
But if you really want an effective role model, make sure that they truly are leaders in the area where you want to be successful. Make sure that you’re modelling yourself – or your business – after a person with substance, someone with real wins. Not just the person who gets the most publicity or who has the biggest social media following.