Looking to others to learn from can be a really useful, really straightforward, and entirely free method of self-development. You can work at your own pace and focus on the issues that are going to make the biggest difference to you personally.
Here are a few pointers to get you started:
What are your core values? What does success mean to you? Try not to be restricted by other people’s influences (whether those influences come from media, family or friends). What are you already doing well? Write down some of your recent achievements and think about what you did specifically to get those results. It’s really important not to lose sight of your personal strengths and abilities.
Who do see around you that is successful in the way that you want to be successful?
Try to identify what they have done, or do regularly, to achieve these successes. For example, if you want to improve your management capabilities, identify someone that you see as a great manager of people – notice what behaviours they exhibit as they do this, and reflect on how their team responds to them. If you know them directly, then have a conversation and see what advice they can share.
Once you have noted the specific actions that have made other people successful, work out ways that you can try to incorporate them into your own activities. You don’t need to mirror your role-model’s behaviours exactly (that could be a bit weird), and it isn’t about trying to emulate them in every way, but by being open to new methods of working, you may be able to learn some new tricks to suit your own context and priorities.
Realistically, as with any self-development activity, it is advisable just to look to make a couple of changes at a time and embed them properly.
This is not the same as mentorship, which tends to be a longer-term, structured relationship. And it’s not about trying to reinvent yourself as a copycat model of those around you. What I am talking about here is a more subtle, observational, ‘casual discussion’ kind of activity: ‘I am so impressed at the way you manage to get out of the office at 5.30 every night – how do you do that?’
And then actually listen to their answer and see if their strategies could work for you.