15 Minutes as Your Model of Success

Something to PonderWho is your primary model of success? What one person best captures your idea of living the dream?

Modeling is a great technique for learning and understanding what makes someone successful. What would it be like to see through their eyes and live their life?

Being Warren Buffet, or Tony Robbins, or Steve Jobs, or Oprah, or…

In the movie Being John Malkovich, there exists a door that leads into the head of Malkovich. It’s a quirky movie, and happens to be one of my favorites.

So I began to wonder, what would it be like if this was actually possible?

This thought experiment is a cool way to let your imagination help you see and experience what your idea of success is like.

  • Take 15 minutes when you won’t be disturbed, and sit in a quiet room. If you have longer, that’s great, but give yourself at least 15 minutes.

  • Then visualize a door that leads into the head of your role model. This door sends you through a tunnel that deposits you into their consciousness.
  • Now begin to imagine what it’s like living as them. What are they doing? What are they saying or thinking? Use your inner senses to conjure up a rich movie of what your model does in a typical day.

What about how they live is a key element of success to you? What makes them successful?

This is more than just daydreaming. Using thought experiments to get your mind thinking about how it feels to be successful, helps create a pattern of success. It stretches your mental models.

One of my favorite books on these types of exercises and research is The Power of Impossible Thinking by Jerry Wind. It puts these ideas out there in a very logical and accessible way.

Taking time to see things through the eyes of someone you view as successful is a great way to strengthen your success patterns. It also helps you to understand why you find certain people successful, and to establish what you want in your own model of success.


  1. Great idea, I’ve tried this many times and it really seems to help me. That’s why I love reading articles about other startups (from home or not, I don’t care ;)) to see how they did it.
    And then I imagine what I would have done if I were them, if I would have made the same choices and why not. It really helps me think about that kind of stuff and opens some new perspectives from time to time.
    Really recommended!

  2. Tony,

    This is a GREAT exercise, because a lot of people tend to just see the “success” but not the actual lifestyle that powers that success.

    I’ve been involved with a few reputable network marketing companies in the past, and I totally fell in love with that success model. Then one day I realized that to have that success, I would have to live a LIFESTYLE that I didn’t want to lead.

    Great post, Tony – thanks for sharing.

  3. Great post and I really like Aaron’s comment above too.

    My favorite one in here is “What makes them successful?”

    Not only does that apply to your role model, but any successful person. I’m a big Inside the Actor’s Studio addict and you can almost always find some small insight somebody has taken in their entertainment career that you can apply to your own, no matter what field it is in. Autobiographies, same deal (I just finished the Barack Obama one and it was quite moving). You can find that sort of thing all over if you keep your eyes open.

  4. Martijn – I agree. Reading and learning about others successes help fuel your own.

    Aaron – You’re absolutely right. Understanding the total lifestlye is a much better indicator of what you consider success than any one piece of it.

    Nerd Guru – That’s a terrific point. I also enjoy Actor’s Studio and biographies for the same reasons.

  5. I am a visual artist, so I always IMAGINE and IMAGINE..
    But success is only a by product of a good imagination
    to trigger the imagination of other peoples.
    If success is the only goal then there is a danger that nothing is left to imagination.
    Imagination is not meanstream; to quote losely Picasso
    “Imagination is a random found object”.

  6. Shlomo – You’re on to something. Imagination is a way to shape our reality, to craft it. Action is how it’s built.

    Alfa – Glad to hear it.

    Anthony – Yep. Sounds like you have great taste in movies 🙂

  7. I remember reading the story of Rev. Schuller in Tough Times Never Last and remembering the story anytime I am faced with any tough situation.

    I think a lot on not quitting just because I have read about someone that didn’t quit despite all he has passed through.

    I think we should make do with a lot of Biographies because that will really help us to know what to do in so many sistuations. I am reading Bill Clinton’s My Life now and I am learning a lof of lessons I will use to MAXIMUM effect later.

    Tony, YOU ARE GREAT! 😉

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