Imitation is Not a 4-Letter Word – Choose your Models Carefully
It’s blindness to think you aren’t an imitator.
Luke Burgis changed the way I understand myself. Let’s begin with wanting.
“Humans learn – through imitation – to want the same things other people want, just as they learn how to speak the same language and play by the same cultural rules.” (Luke Burgis in Wanting)
The clothes you wear, the places you live, the positions you aspire to earn reflect the wants you see in others.
“Desire usually is born out of the contemplation of someone else who is desiring.” Rene’ Girard
Imitation is not a four-letter word. It’s a reality of life.
You are never an uneffected self. You are a social and relational self.
Two toddlers in a room full of toys end up wanting the same toy.
Celebrity advertising succeeds because we imitate the desires of those we admire.
I desire a playful relationship with my wife because dad modeled a playful relationship with mom.
I want a simple life because my people believed in simple living. If I’d been born wealthy, simplicity would be less desirable.
I don’t really need a lot unless the people around me have a lot.
“Desire usually is born out of the contemplation of someone else who is desiring.” Rene Girard
Example is the key to bad as well as good behavior.
“Models are people or things that show us what is worth wanting.” Luke Burgis
Aspiration is memetic (imitative) desire.
Admiration forms and fuels aspiration.
Noticing and choosing models is one of life’s most important decisions.
Burgis writes, “Wanting well, like thinking clearly, is not an ability we are born with.”
I highly recommend Luke’s book. “Wanting” teaches us how to want well.
How have models taught you what is worth wanting?
The first function of leadership is ‘model the way.’ What will people be like if you are their model?
Purchase “Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life“
Connect with Luke:
Linkedin: Luke Burgis
Website: Luke Burgis | Builder, Author, Educator
Years ago, I was at a retirement dinner for one of my husband’s coworkers. The room was packed, and everyone who spoke said how much the retiree had impacted them personally and the business operations. I decided then and there that I wanted that type of retirement dinner for myself. When I retire, I want everyone to show up because they know who I am and because they are sorry to see me go. I never worked with that man and yet I am still imitating him.
Wow! What a wonderful story. If we are alert, people cross our paths that we may not know, but their life can change ours. But only if we are alert, aspirational, and humble enough to learn from others. I’m glad you dropped in today, Jennifer.
The apostle Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul was the first to admit his shortcomings, but he knew his example in general was good and could help others. You have to love his qualifier, “as I imitate Christ,” because he pointed to the ultimate standard, one above himself. We need to set the example but be humble enough to recognize that we don’t model everything in the ideals we try for.
Thanks Peter. You cite an example of a person who continues to impact the world today. In large part, his impact is a result of imitation.
So inspiring, I remember in younger years as kids we emulated sports stars that inspired us like Dr. J, Pete Rose, Lou Brock, Jerry West, and hundreds more, etc. in the sense they inspired us to be seen, as greatness applied to them. Little did we know the nose dive slides into 2nd base or home plate hurt…. The hook shot that the guy we played against laughed as they stuffed the shot.. At that time that was our surroundings. So if we look around what we surround ourselves with, that becomes our shapes of our futures, the goals we set sometimes unobtainable sometimes they are, we have to craft the journey that fits us. As “Luke” mentions not all of that person, yet a special part that reaches us to endeavor ourselves to life’s challenges that makes each one of us unique.