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.

wooden model.

Noticing and choosing models is one of the life's most important decisions.

“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

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Twitter: @LukeBurgis

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Website: Luke Burgis | Builder, Author, Educator