#33 How to become the person you admire most

  • How to become more like your role models
  • A simple exercise to change negative behaviours
  • Why aresholes always get the payrise…
😍 Something I'm grateful for this week

Your own ego is holding you back from achieving your potential as a freelancer. Here's a framework to rebuild your self image for success...

Today I had a call for advice from an old friend…
She was thinking about starting her own business.
All the ingredients for a successful 6 fig business were there:

  • A valuable skill
  • A low competition market
  • Access to wealthy clients

If she could get a few jobs a year would be enough to surpass her full time income.
I ran through the figures with her, gave her my own experiences of the terror of going out on your own,
went though escape plans and risk management and
Talked through all the ins and outs.

She’d been thinking about this for years, it wasn’t the first time we’d talked about it.
I advised she was falling into the trap of “procrastination through over-planning”.

“I just want to get my ducks in a row first”

“Imperfect action is better than infinite procrastination” I responded.

Finally, a silence…

“so are you going for it?”


We had reached an impasse and I knew she wasn’t going for it.
You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.
She was calling for advice, not one of my coaching clients so I didn’t press the point.

In the end my arguments ‘for’ failed to convince her .
But at the time I let my ego get in the way and I took it personally.

The numbers all add up,
for me it was a no brainer.
For her it was no chance.

“Didn’t she trust my advice?”

I realised at that point how far I had travelled from the “nine to fiver”.
I realised I was letting my ego get the best of me.
As usual, my monkey brain was placing me at the centre of the universe,
When in fact it wasn’t about me at all.

I was just an echo chamber for her own thoughts.
It wasn’t that she didn’t trust my advice,
It was that she didn’t believe that it was possible to make more money doing less work.

In other words, she didn’t trust in herself.
I’m not talking about wishy-washy platitudes, or self affirmation BS here.
I’m talking about self-image and identity in a scientific sense.

Bear with me here while I explain how this will change your whole life 👇🏻

You can become the person you admire most right now.

Everyone has an ego.
Some are big and bodacious,
some are quiet and determined,
some shy and underappreciated.

Your ego shapes you your identity.

We construct stories about ourselves, subconsciously.
Then we conform to it and cling to our stories as if our lives depended on it.
Humans use stories to shape our environment, our behaviours, our cultures and more.

In a very real sense, we build our whole lives around it.

Sometimes we’ll even sacrifice our lives for a good story.
Just think about doomsday cults where people believe an absurd story and end their lives to stick to the narrative.
People in a cult are immersed in an environment that is altering their thinking,
forcing them to conform to an identity that goes against their true nature.

They are desperately to hang onto their identity.

Take these people out of the cult (and out of the story) and they revert to the norm,
and look back at themselves,
unable to explain what they were thinking.

In PyschoCybernetics, Maxwell Maltz describes how some plastic surgery patients would experience immediate, drastic changes in their life trajectory,
whilst others were totally unaffected by the surgery.

In fact, some even clung to the belief that NO surgery had taken place,
even when confronted with before and after photographs showing dramatic visual changes in appearance.

How could this be?

Maxwell realised that the changes were more than cosmetic.
These patients had based their identity around their appearance.
Those that believed their appearance had improved, also experienced a change in their identity.

Now they were people who were successful, attractive, popular.
And so their behaviour changed to conform with their new identity.
Conversely, the others clung to their old identity that they were ugly, worthless, outsiders,
and so their behaviour continued to be defensive, shy, awkward, avoiding.

So powerful is the sense of identity, that some patients would even distort the nature of reality,
denying photographic evidence, in order to cling to their sense of identity as a victim,
or as someone to be ostracised.

To admit that their life had been based on something as surface level as appearance is a difficult pill to swallow.
So because of sunk cost fallacy, The deeper you get, the more you cling on.

This set Maxwell on a journey of discovery that formed the basis of much of our modern understanding of human behaviour.

Our behaviour is based on the story we tell ourselves, about ourselves

In other words,
if you’re in the habit of thinking your someone who doesn’t get things done,
you’ll find you don’t get things done.

If you think you’re someone who can’t cope,
you won’t cope.

If you think you’re more important than everyone else,
you’ll always be cutting people off on the motorway.

Your behaviour is a result of your identity…

At one point I thought of myself as an architect,
I KNEW I was going to be an architect,
right up until I wasn’t.

IF you define yourself by a job role, you will cling to that job,
long after it no longer fits you,
long after you’ve out-earned or out-learned or outgrown the role.

Now I think of myself as a creative, which encompasses many roles.
But my identity can and does change with time,
and has changed many times in the last few years particularly.

Think about it;

Why do highly skilled people stick around in toxic work cultures or badly paid jobs?
Because they believe they won’t find work elsewhere because they are “not enough”

Why is the top of the career ladder full or self-entitled, incompetent arseholes?
Because they all think they deserve it! 😅
They go for the role they think they are uniquely fitted to.
They demand the payrise they know they deserve.

Because their identity demands it.

So don’t you deserve some of this success?

I share systems for freelancers to help them half their workweek and build a lifestyle business without burnout.
But often the key thing many of my students need is just self-confidence,
and guidance to set them in the right direction.

It’s not a lack of talent, or a lack of skills, or a lack of drive,
it’s a new self image, and a framework to act on it.

So ditch the idea that your identity is set in stone.
and ditch the idea that your identity is fixed on where you live, or your job, or anything else.

You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank.
You are not the car you drive.
You’re not the contents of your wallet.
You are not your fucking khakis.
You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world
– Chuck Palahniuk, Fightclub

Instead of letting the world tell you what you are,
or letting your job define you,
YOU decide who you are.
and you can change it regularly depending on what your goals require.

It’s a powerful thought.

When you consciously form your own identity,
you will then subconsciously conform to your new identity,
and push yourself to do things you didn’t think possible,
cope with things that used to floor you,
and react and behave differently,
all to conform to your new vision of yourself.

How to rebuild your new identity

This goes beyond just positive thinking;
thinking often follows behaviour…
So here’s a fun exercise you can try right now which will change your behaviour.

Have you ever heard the phrase:
“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”?
Well, the stoics teach us a similar technique for rebuilding your identity.

It starts with imaging a role model who you most admire.
This could be a real person, or a fake one.
It could be a celebrity, an entrepreneur, a historical figure.

It could be an amalgamation of many different people.
Whenever you face a challenge or a crossroads, or crisis of choice,
imagine your role model in that situation, and imagine what they would do.

All you need to do is mimic their behaviour.
Then the next step is imagine that person watching you,
and you must behave as they would expect from you.

Tell yourself you ARE that person, and imagine how you must now modify your behaviour to conform with this idea.

  • “I am someone who can take this in their stride and deal with it cheerfully”
  • “I am someone who embraces change”
  • “I am someone who doesn’t let people walk on me”
  • “I am someone who puts that packet of crisps back.”
  • “I am someone who exercises daily.”

This is why habit forming is so powerful.
Instead of trying to force yourself to do a fad diet, or intense bootcamp, which is out of sync with your reality, and your routine,
habits force you to do the action until it becomes part of your identity.

True growth takes time

This isn’t going to happen overnight.
You don’t just chant some magic affirmations to yourself and change your whole personality.
But when you repeat things you reinforce them.

The longer you’ve been doing the wrong behaviours, the longer it will take you to reverse and override them.
It may take time to override old habits through years or decades of habits.
but eventually you will not recognise your old self, and old destructive behaviours.


How to change your behaviour for more success.
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💡 Key Insights for solopreneurs

Your success is directly linked to the story you tell yourself about yourself.
Change the narrative = change your behaviour

🛎️ Daily reminder for solopreneurs

Your identity isn’t fixed in stone.
You can change anything about yourself, or your situation,
simply through mindset and action.

💥 How to take action in the next 5 mins

Each time you face a choice,
imagine yourself thinking like the person you most want to be

Picture of Nicholas Robb

Nicholas Robb

Founder, Design Hero
Author of Life by Design

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