It's a Walk-Off, Motherf****er!

Sorry gang, not talking about MILFs (or DILFs) today. 😀 The modeling I’m talking about is modeling behavior.

Hahaha. Yeah, this is what I’m talking about. But beyond being really, really, really, really good-looking, one of the best and most useful skills a parent picks up is the ability to target and absorb the vast resources of experience from other parents.

Your kids might call this “copycatting” (it’s okay, once you’re a grown-up, you’re allowed to do it). The rest of us know that, in parenting, all’s fair, and you do whatever it takes to get to the right answer, including copying off your friends.

Formula For Success

It’s not just parents that model success. Formally, in the psych field, there’s an entire school of thought dedicated to the concept that success can be reproduced and replicated by modeling successful people.

The idea goes that if you, for example, want to learn to play basketball, you seek to model the behavior of someone who’s very successful at playing basketball, say, Kobe Bryant. You start by copying his moves–the way he jumps, the way he handles the ball, his method of running. Olympic trainers have been known to use motion-capture technology to break down and wireframe the movements of gymnasts executing well-formed moves in order to better understand and replicate the play of muscles and limbs in a well-executed move.

You can do the same thing for less-physical forms of achievement. Every parent knows the old mantra, “If you don’t study, you won’t get into college and you’ll never become a doctor.” Inherent in that statement is the proto-model for the successful behavior: Study, get into college, become a doctor. Now we all know that it’s not that easy as a three-step process makes it out to be. In less-physical situations, modeling isn’t just about movement–copying the way a doctor signs a prescription will not get you any closer to becoming a doctor than writing your name legibly (also, copying the signature of a doctor on a prescription can get you ten to fifteen, so kids, don’t try this at home). But modeling that doctor’s behavior–their method of diagnosis, their bedside manner, the way they approach surgical procedures.

The Confidence Game

Ya just gotta believe

There are more esoteric approaches to modeling, as well. Successful business-folk often talk about how attitude is everything. There’s an entire industry centered around the world of “success” in and of itself. How the right positive attitude can overcome all challenges. Half of it is bullshit, the other half is designed to get you off your ass to do something you won’t admit to being afraid to do.

Pattern Recognition

The more esoteric approaches help a lot more with parenting (although some of that physical modeling is useful when you’re gently-but-firmly hauling a tantruming two year old out of a grocery store under a cloud of shame and embarrassment). The thing is, we do this naturally, instinctively.

If you’ve ever hung out with other parents in a playgroup or social situation, the talk will soon turn to everyone’s kids’ problems–so-and-so has biting issues, such-and-such has a texture thing so nothing can be overcooked. And we do this because we are seeking the patterns that help us to make sense of those inscrutable little mysteries we’ve spawned. We are crowdsourcing our experiences and seeking behaviors to model in order to up our chances of success.

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