Idols are not often what they seem…
In the tech world, for example, Steve Jobs is considered one of the most influential Americans of all time. It goes without saying that he was influential. In his lifetime he revolutionised computers, telephones, and even retail stores. Author, reporter and political commentator, Thomas Friedman said of his passing, ‘it is about the loss of someone who personified so many of the leadership traits we know are missing from our national politics.‘
However, as a quote from Scientific American puts it, ‘the problem with using his interpersonal style as a management role model is that [it] is a recipe for unintentionally delivering your best employees as new hires to your closest competitors.‘ He was known for being temperamental and throwing fits when his team couldn’t meet his perfectionist visions.
Of course, you could argue that this perfectionist vision is what made him so influential and his products so revolutionary. The point is not to bash icons but instead to remind us that while we may strive to emulate their success, we sometimes forget the entire picture of that person and their personal history as we idolise them.
It also depends on what your own personal goals and motivations are. In this case, if your goal was to inspire your team and see them work well together, Jobs may not be the most appropriate idol. The basis and drive for success must come from within.
Passion for your role
In order to be successful at what you do, you must care deeply about it. It’s said so many times it has become somewhat clichéd, but you need a passion for what you do and to make a difference for the people you serve. The desire to become proficient at it, the immense satisfaction you feel when you’ve done it well, the motivation and discipline to keep at it no matter the difficulties or situations you’ve encountered. These are all required to be successful in business, especially as an entrepreneur, where challenges will almost certainly arise.
As great as role models can be, they won’t help you find what you are passionate about. This is because the desire to succeed must come from within yourself. It is a mistake to seek inspiration from someone who is, effectively, a stranger because you are attempting to live someone else’s life instead of your own.
Find your motivation
This is not to say that I don’t have sources of inspiration. On a personal level, I’ve always been inspired by my dad, who owned and ran his own successful business. My sister is also self-employed, so it definitely runs in the family. As the years have passed, it’s become my own family that inspires me to create opportunities for them, especially so my young daughters can have the best possible start in life. I also feel as you look around and listen to other people’s stories, I have a lot to be thankful for. Yes, there’s been challenges along the way, but there are others who have fought much tougher battles than I have to achieve their own version of success.
Of course, the difference here is that my drive for success is not necessarily externally motivated. This is not about emulating another’s success. It’s about being passionate about the job and aspiring to success because of what (and who) you deeply know and care about.
Live your own success
Success is, more often than not, a personal endeavour. It is for personal satisfaction and, mostly, personal gain. So to succeed, look within yourself for the reason and the means to do so, not someone else’s. It’s your life, and not everyone can be the next Steve Jobs. Maybe, all things considered, you wouldn’t want to be anyway. Success is a relative concept. If you measure your own against someone else’s, then you are living your life by somebody else’s standards, not your own.
Featured image: Gulom Nazarov / Unsplash