How to Model Successful People and Become a High Achiever

Anthony Robbins

It’s not what you do once in a while that makes you successful, it’s what you do consistently.


What is Psychological Modeling?

Just imagine you could be Richard Branson, Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Nelson Mandela, or Walt Disney for a day, a week, or how about an entire year. I’m of course not suggesting that you become them physically, but rather mentally, emotionally and psychologically. Just imagine you started thinking like one of these iconic legends. How would that change your life? How would that transform your choices, decisions and actions?

There is no need imagining these things, because this is very possible once you come to understand the process of psychological modeling.

Psychological modeling is a form of copying or mirroring the behavior of another person. This can be done on a conscious level of awareness, however we often tend to do this at an unconscious level of awareness during our day-to-day interactions with others.

There’s a theory which states that you will only be as successful as the sum-total average of your five closest friends. There is actually an ounce of truth to this theory if we take into account the process of psychological modeling. Let me explain.

The people you hang around with most are often the people you admire and respect above all others. These are your friends and your confidants who provide you with an emotional bedrock you can use for support during times of need. Now, whether you realize it or not, you are in fact mirroring in some respects how these people talk, how they move, how they dress, the decisions they make, the actions they take, etc. At the same time these people are also mirroring your decisions, actions and behaviors without even consciously realizing it. And all this is significant because as you mirror others, you begin to think as they do, and as you begin to think as they do you also start adopting their beliefs, their values, their perspectives and their approach to life. You in essence become somewhat like them, and this inevitably influences your day-to-day undertakings.

This is all well and good if you are mostly spending your time with positive, inspiring, motivated, caring and goal oriented individuals. However, what if you’re spending most of your time with pessimistic, angry, and dispassionate individuals? What are these people turning you into? How are they influencing your life? How are they influencing your daily choices, decisions and actions?

It’s important to reflect upon the impact that others have on your life, because you are in some respects mirroring their psychological tendencies. And this is happening whether you consciously realize it or not. Are you going to allow these people to influence your life? Are you going to allow them to shape your destiny?

Is it then surprising that you are essentially only as successful as the average sum-total of the success attained by your five closest friends? Or, to put it another way, you are only as caring as the average sum-total of these people; you are only as decisive as the average sum-total of these people; you are only as courageous as the average sum-total of these people; you are only as intelligent as the average sum-total of these people, etc. Does all this raise any concerns?

It’s important to take all this into consideration while working through the psychological modeling process. However, for the purpose of this discussion, let’s forget the impact that your five closest friends have on your life, and instead let’s focus on consciously modeling people who can help you become the person you desire to be.

Psychological Modeling Definition


What Does it Mean to Mirror Someone?

Mirroring is a form of copying of internal and external behavior patterns.

There are two ways to look at this. You can mirror other people’s psychological patterns and their external behavior. Or you can look to your past and mirror what has worked for you in the past in order to obtain similar results in the present moment.

When it comes to mirroring your past, you can for instance mirror your past successes. This requires determining what worked or didn’t work for you in the past, and then bringing those lessons into the “now” by attempting to recreate those behaviors, decisions, actions and internal states in the present moment. This is particularly helpful when bringing back empowering states that served you in the past and can now be used to help you handle difficult emotional moments in the present. For instance, there was probably a time in the past when you felt emotionally resilient. Think about this time and ask yourself:

How was I feeling resilient at the time?

What was I thinking about?

What did I believe about myself?

What did I believe about others?

What did I believe about the situation or my circumstances?

How did I talk to myself?

What kinds of questions did I ask myself?

What decisions did make?

What specific actions did I take?

How can I bring these patterns into the present moment to help me become more resilient in this situation?

This process of mirroring yourself is not the focus of this discussion. However, it is important to understand what’s worked for you in the past, and how you can bring those same patterns forward into your present moment to help you handle your difficulties far more effectively. For this to happen though, you need to thoroughly come to understand your tendencies and patterns of behavior under different circumstances and conditions. Ask yourself:

What do I do when I’m feeling (stressed, worried, frustrated, etc) under pressure?

What do I pay attention to during these moments?

How do I use my physiology?

What kinds of habits do I indulge in?

What decisions do I tend to make?

What does all this mean?

How have I learned this behavior?

Are there any specific individuals in my life who behave in exactly the same way?

Could these people have influenced me, or maybe I influenced them? Or just maybe we both influenced each other?

What’s the significance of all this?

What lessons can I take away from this for the future?

Once you understand yourself and your own psychological tendencies, you will be in a better position to make the necessary adjustments that will help you to model the external behavior and the psychological tendencies of other people on a conscious level of awareness. And this is what will essentially make a positive difference to your life.

Let’s now quickly take a look at the “act of modeling” another person’s psychological patterns and their external behavior. You can for instance model a person’s:

  • External actions and behaviors: This is achieved by physically copying the decisions they make and how they do things on a daily basis.
  • Physiology: This can include how they move their body, how they breathe, their muscle tension, posture, eye movements and facial gestures.
  • Style of dress: Here you are modeling their style of dress from head to toe.
  • Habits: This requires looking a little deeper within the person to get a sense of the kinds of habits and rituals they indulge in that get them their desired outcomes.
  • Internal patterns: This includes thoughts, beliefs, values, needs and emotions. This is somewhat more difficult to pinpoint, however once you unlock these patterns you will get a better understanding of the motivations behind this person’s actions.
  • Interests: These are the thing they enjoy doing. This is where their passions lie, and this is where they find the most joy in life.
  • Language: This is the kinds of words they speak, the phrases they use, and the pitch, tone, volume, and pace of their voice.
  • Peer groups: This requires modeling the kinds of people they tend to spend most of their time with. This might also mean getting a deeper understanding into their “peer group selection criteria”. How do they choose who they will interact with? And why do they choose these particular people?

Mirroring another person can also be achieved at very deep levels that go beyond the scope of this article. However, nevertheless, I think it’s important to mention them briefly in order to provide some context for future analysis.

You can for instance mirror a person’s:

Submodalities

These are the ways in which we interpret and then represent our world using our five senses. It’s all about how we visualize things, how we hear things, and how we feel things internally.

Every person has their own unique way of interpreting and representing their world. And this is of particular significance when it comes to psychological modeling. A person’s internal representations reveal very specific habits-of-mind that you can mirror in order to experience the world from their unique point-of-view. This is valuable because all of a sudden it’s as though you’re stepping into their mind and gaining insight into their deepest thoughts, habits and emotional tendencies.

Meta-Programs

These are mental shortcuts that direct your decisions, behaviors, actions and interactions with others. They are internal representations of your external experience of reality. They determine how your brain pays attention to things, and what it pays attention to. It’s a form of pattern recognition, where your brain attempts to sort through what the body is sensing and experiencing.

Meta-programs are like software applications for the brain where one software program controls the execution of a number of other programs. The software runs in the background and directs your thoughts, beliefs, values, memories and responses.

By modeling these psychological software applications (meta-programs), you are effectively tapping into the other person’s methods of processing the world around them. You gain insights into how they do things and why they do things, which can provide you with the answers you need to help you achieve similar outcomes and results in your own life.

Mental Syntax

This is a form of strategy elicitation. Here you are taking what you have observed externally about the person, and the insights you have gathered about their submodalities and meta-programs, and putting them together to form a mental syntax or strategy of how they do and think-through things in very specific ways. This is relevant for modeling because once you gain insight into the specific steps that a person takes internally and externally to get a certain outcome, that is when you can effectively begin modeling their process and thereby obtaining similar outcomes in your own life.

Say for instance you might want to gain insight into how this person makes specific kinds of decisions. Once you understand their mental syntax and the process for making these decisions, you can then model their decision-making process in your own life, and hopefully attain the same or similar outcomes.

All three of these methods of modeling have been taken from Neural Linguistic Programming (NLP). For more information about each of these methods and about NLP, please refer to the following links:

Psychological Modeling: What to Mirror and Match


Here is Why You Might Want to Model Someone

There are a number of reasons why you might want to follow through with this approach and begin consciously modeling people you respect and admire. Let’s explore three of these reasons here.

For starters, you might not be where you want to be in your life. You have all these goals that you would like to achieve, however you also have all these unhelpful habits, thoughts, and beliefs that are preventing you from moving forward. Consciously modeling another person’s habits, thoughts and beliefs can potentially help you to break out of old patterns of behavior and habits-of-mind, thereby stepping into a new world filled with unique opportunities, perspectives and possibilities. All of a sudden you begin viewing things differently, approaching your problems from surprising angles, and making choices and decisions that you normally would not make. Your life will never be the same, you will never be the same, and the path you take may now be drastically different.

The second reason why you might want to give psychological modeling a try has everything to do with your five closest friendships. Remember the theory of how the average sum-total of your five closest friends influences the kind of person you are today, which thereby determines the results and outcomes you will eventually realize or fail to realize tomorrow? Well, if your desires and ambitions surpass those of your friends, then you have three options. You can choose to dump your friendships and begin establishing new friendships that are on-par with your ambitions. Or you can keep your friendships but at the same time establish new friendships and acquire role models you can use for this psychological modeling experiment. Or you can keep things the way they are and sacrifice your desires for the comfort and security of the present moment. What will you choose to do?

If you choose the second option, you will probably find that while you’re creating stronger bonds with people who are more aligned with your goals and aspirations, that you will eventually grow apart and lose contact with your old friendship circle. This is a normal and natural part of life. And it’s a transition that you will need to go through as you make progress towards the attainment of your goals and objectives.

The third reason you might choose to model someone else is simply to gain a little more confidence in yourself and in your own abilities. This is helpful because while modeling someone else you are essentially acting out a role. You are becoming this other person temporarily, and being this other person can provide you with the confidence you need to help you move forward in more positive ways.


First Establish What You Want and Need

Before you begin the psychological modeling process, it’s important that you first take some time to get a better understanding of your needs and what you would like to gain from this experience. This clarity will provide you with a sense of direction, and will allow you to make better choices and decisions moving forward.

In order to gain this clarity you will need to do two things. First, you will need to establish what it is you want and the reasons behind these motivations. And secondly, you will need to select the person or people you will begin modeling based on a specific set of criteria that are important for you. After you take these two steps you will be ready to move into the psychological analysis process where you can begin modeling the other person’s social, internal and external patterns.

Let’s now go through each of these steps before jumping into the psychological modeling process.

Establish Clear Outcomes

It’s all well and good to consciously model someone you admire. However, without a clear goal of the outcomes you would like to achieve, you will tend to get lost and easily sidetracked. For this very reason it’s critical that before you jump into the process of psychological modeling that you first clarify what it is you would like to achieve as a result of this process. Ask yourself:

What is it that I would like to achieve?

Would I like to change some of my habits?

Would I like to make better decisions? How?

Would I like to do anything differently?

Would I like to feel a little more confident and self-assured?

What’s not working in my life right now?

What things would I like to change?

How would fixing or changing these things help me in the long-run?

What kind of person would I essentially like to become?

What will becoming this person allow me to do?

Why is all this important in the long-run?

The more you clarify in your mind what it is you want, the better idea you will have about what it will take to get you there. However, it’s important to remind yourself that what you want is not as important as why you want things. There must be enough reasons “why” you want something in order for there to be enough motivation and commitment behind your actions.

Select a Person to Model

Now that you are clear about what it is you want and why you want things, it’s now time to select the person you would like to model.

This task seems simple on the surface, however there are several things that you must keep in mind. To gain some clarity about these things, ask yourself:

What specific person would I like to model? Why?

How will modeling this person be of value for me?

How much information is available about this person? Books? Internet? Articles?

How accessible is this person? Can I get in touch with them?

Can I spend time with this person, or work alongside them in some capacity?

What do I value about this person?

Is this person congruent with the kind of person I want to become?

Could there be someone else that might be more congruent with my desired goals and objectives?

You might end up selecting a person that you know personally. This is advantageous because it will allow you the opportunity to spend time with them and potentially ask them questions that will help you identify their psychological tendencies.

On the other hand, you might choose to model someone famous (deceased or alive) that you won’t get an opportunity to interact with on a face-to-face basis. In such instances you will need to learn all you can about this person by reading books and articles; listening to interviews; or maybe watching video recordings. All these resources can provide you with some unique and helpful insights.

This second method has its own advantages because it provides you with a variety of perspectives into this person’s psychological tendencies that you can work with as you move through the psychological modeling process.

Given all this, it’s important to select someone who is congruent with the type of person you would like to become. What this means is that their beliefs, values, goals, lifestyle, etc, are consistent with the goals you outlined above. The more congruency exists, the easier it will be to model them, and the better results you will attain in the long-run.

The NLP Modeling Process


Breaking Down the Psychological Modeling Process

The psychological modeling process can be broken down into three distinct parts. The first is the social analysis stage, which involves analyzing the other person’s social life and social structure. The second is the external analysis stage, which involves getting a sense of what the person’s like from a visual external perspective. And the third stage, that of internal analysis is probably the most difficult of them all because it involves analyzing the makeup of the other person’s internal world. This is where you can delve into submodalities and meta-programs.

Some of these questions may not apply to the person you have chosen to model. And that is perfectly fine. These questions are more of an outline that you can add-to and subtract-from at any time. Use them for guidance only, and continuously adapt the questions to the person you are modeling and to the outcomes you are wanting to obtain.

Let’s break down each of these three steps in a little more detail:

The Social Analysis Stage

Your first objective is to conduct a social analysis of the person you are going to be modeling. This will require gaining insight into their social life, into their interactions with others, and into their lifestyle. Here are some important questions you might like to ask yourself.

The Social Environment:

Where does this person spend most of their time? Why?

How do they tend to spend their time? Why?

Do they partake in any specific hobbies? Why?

What kind of environment do they tend to nurture? Why?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Acquiring Knowledge:

What does this person tend to read? Why?

Do they watch anything in particular on the Internet or on TV? Why?

What does this person tend to listen to? Why?

How do they acquire the relevant knowledge and information they need to be successful?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Networking and Connections:

Where does this person tend to network and connect with other people? Why?

Whom do they tend to network with in particular? Why?

How do they networking and form connections with people? Why?

What groups, clubs, and/or organizations do they belong to? Why?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Role Models:

Who are their role models? Why?

How do their role models influence their behavior, decisions and actions?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

The External Analysis Stage

Your next objective is to conduct an external analysis of the person you are going to be modeling. This will require gaining insight into the decisions they make, the questions they ask themselves, their attitude, qualities, actions, physiology, habits, emotional tendencies, skills and much more. Here are some important questions you might like to ask yourself:

Decision Making:

How does this person tend to make decisions? Why?

What criteria do they use to make their decisions? Why?

What kinds of decisions do they make in different situations? Why?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Qualities and Characteristics:

What strengths does this person have? Why?

What are their dominant traits? Why?

What qualities do they have that I admire most?

How are these qualities and traits expressed through their daily actions, interactions, and undertakings?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Daily Actions and Habits:

What daily actions does this person take? Why?

What habits do they have that I admire?

What rituals do they tend to indulge in? Why?

What’s their routine like? Why is this important?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Language and Questions:

What words does this person tend to use on a daily basis? Why?

How do they speak? What’s their tone of voice like?

How do they tend to speak to themselves? To others?

What questions do they tend to ask?

How do their questions influence their decisions and actions?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Ongoing Attitude:

If I could sum up this person’s attitude in a few words, what would it be?

How do they respond under heavy stress or during a crisis?

What emotions do they tend to experience on a daily basis? Why?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Skills and Abilities:

What kinds of skills has this person learned and mastered over a lifetime? Why?

How have these skills helped them get to where they are in life?

Where did they learn these skills? How did they learn these skills?

What does it take to learn these kinds of skills to this level of proficiency?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Physiology:

What is evident when I observe this person’s physiology?

How do they tend to stand?

How do they tend to sit?

How do they move their body while interacting with others?

What’s their physiology like when under immense stress?

What insights does their physiology provide me about their internal state-of-mind?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Motivations Behind Actions:

What motivates them to take action? Why?

What kind of pain are they trying to avoid? Why?

How are they doing this?

What drives their behavior forward? Why?

What pleasures are they seeking to attain? Why?

How is the pleasure and pain principle influencing their daily attitude, decisions and actions?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

The NLP Modeling Process External Analysis

The Internal Analysis Stage

Your final objective is to conduct an internal analysis of the person you are going to be modeling. This is the toughest part. However, you did do some of this groundwork within the previous stage.

What you identify externally is often also mirrored internally. This should provide you with the clues you need to get a better understanding of this person’s internal world.

Conducting an internal analysis is best done through a combination of observation and by asking some insightful questions. However, if the person you are going to be modeling isn’t accessible, then you will probably find a lot of this information within books, biographies, documentaries, films and articles. Plow through interviews and pay careful attention to their responses. Within these responses you will find the clues that you are searching for.

In order to conduct a thorough internal analysis you will need to take into account this person’s needs, values, beliefs, meta-programs, submodalities, thoughts, rules, expectations and perceptions. Here are some important questions you might like to ask yourself:

Thoughts and Mental State:

What does this person tend to think about most of the time? Why?

How do they tend to think about these things? Why?

What do they tend to focus on? Why?

How do they tend to focus on these things? Why?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Human Needs:

What are this person’s dominant needs? Is it the need for certainty, uncertainty, significance, connection, growth or contribution? Why?

Which needs are they satisfying at the highest level? Why?

How do these needs affect their priorities in life?

How do these needs influence their daily choices, decisions and actions?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Meta-Programs:

What meta-programs influence their daily choices and decisions? Why?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Core Values:

What values does this person tend to live by?

What are their core values? Why?

What is their hierarchy of values? Why?

How do they tend to satisfy these values on a daily basis?

How do their values affect how they prioritize their life, decisions and actions?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Personal Beliefs:

What do they believe about themselves, others and circumstances?

What convictions do they have?

Why do they tend to believe these things?

How do they express their beliefs on a daily basis?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Expectations, Personal Standards and Rules:

What expectations do they tend to have? Why?

What do they expect of themselves, others and circumstances?

What does all this say about their personal standards?

What rules do they tend to live by? Why are these rules important to them?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

Perceptions and Pattern Recognition:

How does this person tend to perceive things? Why?

How do they tend to perceive other people and situations? Why?

What patterns do they tend to recognize? Why is this important?

How do they recognize these patterns?

How is knowing this of value for me and for the outcomes I would like to achieve?

People become successful and/or proficient in certain areas of life because they have developed the ability to recognize patterns within their circumstances/environment that others typically struggle to notice. Recognizing these patterns provides them with an edge that gives them unique insights and perspectives. Within this lies the key to modeling a person successfully.

Once you thoroughly come to understand a person’s social, external and internal world, you will likewise develop the ability to spot the patterns that shape and structure their world. And the moment you understand these patterns, is the moment you can take advantage of them in your own life.

Here is a great article you can read that explains more about the process of patterns recognition.


Putting it All Together

So, where do you go from there? What do you do with all this information you have gathered about this other person?

This all comes down to the outcomes you originally laid out. These outcomes provide you with a sense-of-direction. It’s therefore important to integrate the social, external and internal patterns you identified into your daily undertakings to to help you attain your desired outcomes. Ask yourself:

What outcomes do I want to achieve?

What psychological patterns will help me to attain these outcomes?

What specific things might not be worth my while exploring?

How will I begin adopting these new patterns into my life?

What challenges or setbacks could I face?

How will I handle these problems?

What’s the first step I could take today that will help build my momentum?

Once you have some clarity, you can begin taking the necessary steps to help you move forward towards your desired outcomes.

As a final word, it’s very possible that modeling just one person might not provide you with the answer you need. In such instances, choose several people to model, and take the best that each of these people has to offer — applying only the most relevant patterns into your own life. Above all else, stay flexible with your approach and adjust your course of action as you work towards your desired outcomes.

Words of Caution

It’s important you don’t get so caught up modeling others that you lose all sense-of-self.

Don’t sacrifice your own personal identity. You are not this other person. You are temporarily acting like them in order to attain your desired outcomes. You are in essence an actor hired to star in a movie, and you must act out this person to the best of your ability. However, after-hours once the set is closed, you are yourself once again. Yes, you might very well take some of the positive traits and psychological tendencies you picked up from modeling this person and apply them into your day-to-day life. You might even decide to integrate a part of this person into yourself. That is fantastic, and perfectly okay. Take what’s working, dump the rest, and above all else, remember to keep your personal identity intact.

In the end, it’s important not to lose yourself. This is not a transformation. It is rather an adaptation. And it’s up to you to pick and choose the parts you need, to help you make an improved version of yourself that will allow you to attain your desired goals and objectives.

A Practical Example

To get a better understanding of how this psychological modeling process works, please have a read of the psychological modeling example used to breakdown the mindset of Richard Branson.


Time to Assimilate these Concepts

How to Model Successful People

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Adam is a life coach, mind mapper, doodler and visual thinker. He founded IQ Matrix in 2009 and has created over 350 self-growth mind maps. He also has a Free 40 Day How to Doodle Course where he teaches how to doodle using simple daily lessons. Read more about Adam’s story, and how he created the concept for IQ Matrix. Feel free to also get in touch and send Adam a message here.