July 16, 2019 Chris Fuller

Imitation: The Easiest Path to Leadership Success without Starting from Scratch

Find Awesome and Copy It!

Inspiration is contagious. 

Oprah Winfrey started out as a small-town newsperson and became a media mogul. 

Mother Teresa served the poor in the worst conditions. 

Gandhi, Steve Jobs, Malala from Pakistan, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein—the list goes on. 

Each of these people had drastically different personalities, values, and vision, yet they all inspired millions.

Of course, you don’t have to meet a tech giant or join the Peace Corp. to find those electric people who inspire leadership success.

One of the first people to speak deeply into my life was a guy named Jim. He put a John Maxwell book in one hand and Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People in the other and began to teach me about leadership. As one of my first mentors, he told me he believed in me and saw amazing talent in me. 

It changed me and made me want to elevate my game.  And it made me realize—no great leaders are 100% original. 

It’s shocking, but true. 

We all model our lives after somebody. The difference is who and what do we choose to model. That decision changes everything.

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Inspiration Is Everywhere—If We Only Look

Inspirational people have a way of affecting our souls and changing our thinking. 

As kids, we model what we see in our parents and older siblings. Our word choices, actions, attitudes, and way of viewing the world all are shaped by what we see modeled for us. 

As adults, we encounter more and different viewpoints, we get to choose new patterns to imitate and replicate. 

So who inspires you? You may have never given it much thought. 

I encourage you to pause and consider it now. Who are your heroes? What leaders inspire you? It could be a… 

  • Teacher
  • Mentor
  • Boss
  • Coworker
  • Friend
  • Podcaster
  • Family member
  • Community figure
  • Spiritual leader
  • Author 

They could be your closest friend, but could also be someone whose perspective you value, whose work you’ve read, whose smile you pass everyday and take encouragement from. 

Great leaders have a way of bringing out the best in us. It’s the simplest way to gain your own leadership growth without starting absolutely from scratch! 

(I call it, “Copying Awesome!”)

They encourage, uplift, and inspire. Their presence inspires you to bigger and better things. You want what they “have” and are willing to listen up to find out how they got it. 

PRO Tip: Inspired From Afar

You don’t have to know someone personally to gain wisdom from them. You can engage some of the best mentors in the pages of books or via an online course or video. Use it all. 

Read voraciously, take notes, and apply what you learn to your own life to equip you for your own leadership journey.  

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Key Markers of Inspiring Leadership

When you know who inspires you, you can identify the individual components that make them who they are and find things to replicate in your own life and leadership.

Some key characteristics may be:

Passion. They know why their work matters. They have a spark that comes from real engagement with their mission— if they lose their way, it always guides them back to what’s important.  

Honesty. They share ideas and opinions without fear of what their peers might think. They aren’t working in the spin room, but from a place of authenticity. 

Positivity. They don’t see failures, they see lessons. Unexpected changes are opportunities to grow. These people inspire hope, progress, and a big-picture mentality in the middle of seemingly discouraging circumstances. 

Inclusivity. They value the perspectives of others—even people who disagree with them. They actively encourage communication, creativity, and team thinking from every player. 

Wisdom. They may not be the oldest or the longest-working team member, but you can tell they don’t just bring knowledge to the table, but perspective and wisdom. 

Patience. They create space for trying, failing, and trying again. They are the listening ear you want to take frustrations and struggles to. 

Determination. When others want to quit, they dig deeper. They ask questions. They make moves. They have the grit and willpower to endure the dry spells and still reap the rewards of hard work. 

And this is only a starting list! Inspiration can strike from any direction. 

Now it’s your turn. 

As you think about leaders who’ve inspired you, ask what it is about them that speaks to you on a deep level. What is it about them that energizes you and makes you want to make them proud?

(Everyone’s life can be a lesson if you understand how to let it teach you.)

If you want to take it one powerful step forward—start a Board of Inspiration. Here’s how. 

  1. Get a posterboard, whiteboard, or personal journal. (Something with lots of room.) 
  2. Whenever you notice an encouraging, inspiring, or challenging characteristic—in anyone, friend, coworker, public figure—put it on the board! 
  3. Add books, articles, or resources that catch your attention.
  4. Add quotes that encapsulate your personal brand or mission. 
  5. Keep it somewhere you can see it! 

Imitation isn’t just the sincerest form of flattery, it’s also the quickest way to get remarkable results.

Why reinvent the wheel when so much of what you need to live an inspired life has already been modeled for you? Why start at the drawing board when leadership success is there in front of you in full color? 

Find awesome and copy it.

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