Most people have a hero. Someone whose work they admire. Someone who does something that stirs you up.
When I ask my clients to tell me their heroes, they often feel that they need to come up with some big name and then decide that they have to have the goals to go along with it.
They imagine it should be a film star, like Emma Thompson, or Bruce Willis, or Scarlet Johansson. Or they think I want them to choose a successful business person, like Oprah Winfrey or Richard Branson.
There’s nothing wrong having someone like this as your hero, and just because you admire someone like Beyoncé, doesn’t meant that you then have to set a goal to be a world-class singer.
What I really mean though, when I ask you about your hero, is simply – who in your life inspires you when you read about them, meet them or experience what they have done?
I have always had an admiration for Tove Jansson, for example, the writer and artist responsible for the classic ‘Moomin’ books. I also think that in many ways the actor, composer, script writer and film-maker, Charlie Chaplin reflects for me what is possible and achievable if you believe in yourself and aren’t defined by the boundaries of convention. My drawing is juvenile, I can’t act and I don’t know one end of a camera from another. But there are aspects of these two people that mean they are role models for me.
The point is that we admire these people for a reason. If you think Mary Berry is an amazing cook, but also a calming influence with her head screwed on tight, then these are qualities that in some way we are likely to aspire to ourselves.
What we admire in others, is usually what we would like to see in ourselves.
So asking the question ‘What would Mary Berry do?’ in any given situation – or ‘What would Charlie Chaplin do?’ or even ‘What would Beyoncé do?’, is really asking ‘what would the best version of myself do in this situation?
Many self-help books will encourage you to have an imaginary ‘mastermind group’ of successful people, to help quide you and motivate you. I am a great believer in small steps however.
So why not, as an experiment, pick one person that you admire – anybody, living or dead – and for a few weeks just ask yourself, in tough moments ‘What would xxxx do?’
Decide. Right now. Who will it be?