Lately I’ve been writing a lot about the influence of our environment in our behavior and today I want to consider the effect of the people that we look up to because I believe that they have a disproportionate effect in shaping who we are.
If you think about it the people that we tend to imitate fall in one of three buckets:
- The Close
- The Many
- The Powerful
The Close: we imitate the behavior of those closest to us. We adopt the language of our parents and many of their believes, mannerisms, personality traits. When I become friends with a fellow Spanish speaker that’s from a different country then I am I will tend to adopt their accent after a few days of speaking to them.
The Many: we adopt the social conventions of the place where we live. Society has dictated a bunch of rules about what’s appropriate and convential and what’s not. We adopt most of these rules in order to coexist with others.
The Powerful: we look up to accomplished, famous and powerful individuals because they have something that we want and we hope that by replicating their behavior some of that success will rub off on us.
I think that what these three group of individuals value will dictate the type of behavior and qualities that we find the most attractive and consequently the type of behavior that we will imitate. This is normal and there’s probably strong evolutionary evidence to show that following what these three groups did in an tribal setting would help you survive.
Now I think that if you know the type of person that you want to become you can surround yourself with and get exposure to the type of people that you want to be like. For example, if you want to become a minimalist becoming friends with minimalists and reading minimalist blogs can be a great start to becoming the person that you want.
Right now I am in the process of evaluating and redesigning my environment and that includes the people that I am close with, where I live and who I look up to. It’s a work in progress but I will keep writing about my progress.