An old adage says, “Tell me who your heroes are and I’ll tell you who you are.” We all need living models of success—even if we have to look long and hard before we find those people who inspire us to do more and be more.
When we don’t actively look for people who inspire us, we lose the capacity for genuine appreciation. That spills over into under appreciating our own gifts and achievements.
Whether you’ve got such a list of people or it’s time to start one, here’s a little exercise to help you pay closer attention.
For years I’ve been saying that my fantasy trip would be a very long train ride—perhaps across Canada—with a stack of books I’d been meaning to read. I decided to take that vision a bit farther and plan a dream trip aboard the Orient Express.
After a visit to their website, I chose the Venice—Prague—Paris route. Now I just had to fill up the train.
Who would I love to have with me? Why did I pick the ones I did? Take a look.
° My family—because we’ve already learned how to travel together peacefully.
° Anne Lamott—because she’s a rare combination of wise and funny.
° Bill Bryson—because he’s a brilliant storyteller who makes me laugh out loud.
° Richard Branson—because anyone whose motto is “Fun is Fundamental” belongs on this trip.
° Whoever writes the copy for Innocent Drinks because they’re wacky.
° Elizabeth Gilbert—because she might be ready for another trip and she speaks Italian.
° Billy Collins—because he turns stories into poems that I love.
° Paul McCartney—so I could gaze at him adoringly and he might give us a few tunes.
° Rick Steves—because he could fill us in on what we’re seeing.
° Alexander McCall Smith—because he’s one of the best storytellers writing today.
I realized as I was making out my list of fellow passengers that every one of them was selected because I wanted to hear their stories. I’d also love to eavesdrop on conversations between them.
You’ll also notice that there are no politicians or overexposed celebrities on the list. In fact, even though many of the passengers are quite well known (and McCartney more than well known), they each have a bit of mystique about them.
Imagine what five days on board with this group could be like.
If you were filling up a train or a yacht or a retreat center, who would you most want to have along?
Make out your list and then don’t be surprised if you find yourself in their presence. It might not be on the Orient Express, nor all of them at once, of course.
As it happens, I’ve spent time with all but three of the people on my list—and I expect the others will show up in due time.