Building New or Improved Skills from Your Role Models

Role ModelsIf you want to build or improve skills for yourself generally and for your career development in particular, here is an exercise sometimes known as the “shoe-stepping exercise” which is well worth using. By tapping into your own experience and observations you can select behaviours and strengths which you admire in others and learn to cultivate them yourself. Step into the shoes of a role model of yours; this could even be a colleague or a friend.

First: consider what behaviours/strengths you would like most to build or improve for yourself and the situations in which you would make good use of them. Make a list. The behaviours/strengths need to be really specific, really drilling down into the detail of what it is that you have experienced or observed about them. So, things like how your role model speaks – their pace and tone of delivery; the kind of words and language style they use; how they look, including facial expression, posture, gestures, body language; how they hold themselves generally; and how they dress.

Then, you need to build the template of the desired behaviour/strength in your mind. This takes practice. Take the time to imagine your role model and build a detailed image of them in your mind. Take your time with this and make it as detailed and vivid as possible. Not only what you can see, but also what you hear and what you sense they feel. Then take that image and set it, in your mind’s eye, in a situation where you would like to use the particular behaviour/strength. Having done that, just imagine that you can float into your role model’s body and really get a sense of how it feels to experience that behaviour/strength first hand – in their shoes and through their eyes. Recognising then how that makes you feel as you deepen that experience in your mind’s eye. When you have a really good sense of having those new or improved skills and the feelings which accompany them, you can gently drift out again, taking those skills and feelings with you. The more you practise this, the more detailed the images will become and the more you will strengthen the template in your own mind.

Furthermore, you can use the same approach to identify resources which you already have yourself which you use in one context but which you might not yet use in another context. A common example is confidence. If a person does not feel confident in a particular situation at work there will definitely be other aspects of their work or personal life where they do feel confident. Even those who are adamant that they have little or no confidence have to concede that, well yes, they do feel confident in brushing their teeth. So, it is possible to harness a skill in another part of your life and become your own role model by building that sense of confidence (or whatever the behaviour/strength might be), putting oneself in the memory of the feelings and sensations that are involved, amplifying those feelings and sensations so they are at least doubled in intensity, and projecting them then into the future in a situation where that skill would benefit you and so building on your own inner resources in that other situation.