“A man walks down the street
He says, why am I short of attention
Got a short little span of attention
And oh my nights are so long
Where’s my wife and family
What if I die here
Who’ll be my role-model
Now that my role-model is
Gone, gone”

Now that you have Paul Simon in your head, let’s pick up where we left off yesterday.

The fact is that we ARE incompetent in our untapped resources. Comparison serves its best purpose by making us aware of our incompetence. If we are not willing to face the reality of our incompetence and own it, how will we ever become competent? When we are willing to embrace that, we may discover that those with whom we compete (at least in our own heads), are the people who can help us become more competent.

What are you now very competent in that you were once incompetent in?

Riding a bike? Learning to swim? Balancing a checkbook?

All the skills we have acquired followed a learning cycle.


  • We were first unconscious and incompetent. (unaware and unskilled)
  • Then, we were conscious and incompetent. (aware and unskilled)
  • Next, we were conscious and competent. (do it with concentration)
  • Finally, we were unconscious and competent. (do it with one hand tied behind our back)

We learn best through our experience but, in the conscious competent phase especially, we can accelerate the skill development process through observational learning – learning from the experience of others. Pick any skill, even your best skill, and you can find someone who is better developed in that skill than you. What makes us resourceful is our capacity to take on new skills and improve old ones. What makes us wise is identifying those who are farther down the road than us to model.

Modeling is something we are doing all of the time. It is built into us to copy the behavior, thoughts and attitudes of others. I can’t be the only person on the planet who has taken on the mannerisms of another person simply by being around them. We copy words and speech patterns, ways of dressing, the way someone walks.

If we are going to grow as leaders, we need the right people to follow. When it comes to our parenting, our business acumen and the development of our character, we can be intentional about selecting people to model.

How is this happening for you right now? Who are you modeling, Friend? Do they know it?

Modeling is best when it is more than watching. Because of the comparison gap, we may be hesitant to mix it up with those we know are more competent than us but that is when the most accelerated growth happens. We pick up nuggets by observing from a distance, however, there is no substitute for arranging one-on-one time with someone at a higher level than us.

Early in every college sports season, major schools compete against minor ones. Hopefully for the major school it pads the “W” column. But for the minor school it is an opportunity to see how the game is played at a higher level. For example, the National Champion Clemson Tigers Football Team played the South Carolina State Bulldogs on September 17, 2016 to a 59-0 win. The next week SC State turned around and beat Florida A&M 48-14. Knowing that the Tigers are now the National Champions probably softens a 59-0 loss in the memories of Bulldog players but I am certain they played better against Florida A&M because of their experience in playing the Tigers.

As a college wrestler, I lost twice to Chris Lembeck from the University of Northern Iowa. I didn’t just lose. I got spanked. In wrestling, there is something called a technical fall. That is when one person is 15 points ahead of the other. The match immediately stops. Chris beat me twice by technical fall. The second time was at regionals when I was a Sophomore. The following year Chris became my assistant coach. Chris was one of the smoothest and most fluid opponents I ever faced and now I got to work out with him every day. In some ways, it was like learning the sport all over again. To say he made me a better wrestler is an understatement. He helped me understand the sport at an entirely different level. Not only that, he helped me view myself in a new way. I was much more competitive because of the valuable time I spent learning from Chris.

You don’t have to be an athlete to know that those who are farther down the road than us can answer questions we don’t even know to ask. The Life Leaders GPS course consists of three phases: Discover – Develop – Deploy. One of the final lessons is called My Inner Circle. In it, course participants will gain a framework by which they can intentionally create mentoring relationships. It is just one of many things that makes the course a steal at its current price. When you are serious about taking your life to the next level, we will start the journey together and we will learn from one another.


Rick Burris



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