I know how tempting it is to want to look to the people you idolize and mimic their exact life choices.
I know how soothing it is to live like this, and that art is nothing but the mastery of imitation.
I know that we must learn from our mentors, we must consult the people who have succeeded before us, we must look toward those standing at the top of the mountain and allow them to hand us the map to arrive there, too.
But a real mentor doesn’t just hand you their success script.
They help you write your own.
The honest truth is that another person’s path to success is not ever going to fulfill you, and it’s probably the honest reason why your best efforts never quite seem to be good enough.
You’re probably right — they aren’t good enough, because they are a mimic of someone else’s mastery.
This is not what it means to follow in someone’s footsteps, to learn, to be coached. This is what it means to abandon our authenticity in favor of something that feels safer, a path that may be rough, but mapped nonetheless.
This is what happens when we look at what worked for someone else and then follow that formula blindly, failing to take into consideration that we’re standing in someone else’s zone of genius when it is merely our zone of adequacy.
The people who we admire are not teaching us what to do, they are trying to show us how to do it.
When we follow someone else’s success script, we neglect the unique gifts that we were given — the intersection of our passions and interests and talents — in favor of something that might get us more attention or money or praise.
We wear clothes that don’t suit us because they look right on someone else, we take on projects that other people have succeeded in without really questioning whether or not it’s something we want to do.
Overall, we start to design a life that looks less and less like our own, and that is precisely the problem.
Sometimes, we look to other people to give us guidance when we need encouragement to pursue our truth, and other times, we look to them when we feel lost and just want success at any cost. The latter never works.
Instead of copying precisely what someone else is doing, we can take cues from them to write our own story, our own narrative, and our own truth into existence.
We can watch someone wear flattering clothes with effortless self-confidence, and we can learn to do the same.
We can watch someone make a living off of their art, and we can learn to monetize what it is that we love to do.
We can watch someone have a thriving relationship, and we can take those principles back into our own love lives.
The point is not that we take what isn’t ours — it’s that we learn the lesson.
The goal is not to live in a way that most resembles someone else, but that makes you feel free and inspired and light and appreciative every single day.
Doing this is hard.
It will take everything you have.
But there are so many incredible people who have done it before us, and to them we can turn when we need a reminder that we are likewise capable of living out all that which we know ourselves to be, and all that we have yet to learn.