THOSE PERSONS WE IDOLIZE REVEAL US FOR WHOM WE ARE, AND FOR WHOM WE'D LIKE TO BE.
The persons whom we idolize, admire, or strive to emulate -- as well as the reasons that we feel that way about those persons, can be extremely telling about who we are. Whether they are mentors, models or merely heroes worshiped from a distance tells us, or may tell others much about us. Not surprisingly, one of the questions I always slip into an interview after asking about childhood mentors, coaches and role models, is "Who would you say are the three people you whom you admire or fascinate you the most now, and tell us a bit about why they do?"
A person's adult heroes or adult role models tell us about who that person would like to be. A persons' adult fascinations (as contrasted with heroes) may tell us about whom the person may secretly want to be, or to become most like. Heroes are people who speak to whom we truly wish we could be like, and also of our honesty in divulging that information.
On the other hand, those people whom we merely claim to be fascinated with may well closely parallel our alter egos or wilder/darker sides. Most people are not aware that fascination is a form of admiration which we may not be are of as such.
Other information can also be gotten by asking for, say, three heroes or persons with whom a new acquaintance is fascinated. This information has to do with an imprecise, but nonetheless real tendency toward candor on the part of that person. A dishonest person, or a person who is an ardent conformist and afraid of revealing too much about himself or herself will usually mention the names of three persons whom he or she thinks that everyone should or would admire.
If the question is answered with "Jesus, Mother Theresa, and Mahatma Gandhi," odds are that you are dealing with a person who is trying to convince you of his or her purity of motives, pious nature, or goodness and integrity. What it probably says is that that person is trying desperately to gain our trust (and trying very hard as well as too obviously), and/or that that person is walling off a dark side. Very few people don't have a slightly controversial hero whom they would list among the three. Naming three out of three wonderful and popular idols is extremely unlikely in an honest response.
If your new acquaintance answers with two "goodies" and [for example only] "Adolf Hitler, because he knew how to get things done," it might not speak well of his or her character choices, or underlying personal character, but your interviewee has a higher level of candor and integrity than most folks do.
Asking questions about heroes and Human objects of fascination very often reveals more about an individual than an hour or two of questioning directly about that individual's own hopes, dreams or motivations -- and what that individual might be willing to do in order to achieve them.
This information also tells us a bit about what we might expect from them, how we might best manage them, and (more darkly), how thy might be manipulated.
Douglas E. Castle for The Sending Signals Blog, The Mad Marketing Tactics Blog, The Business And Project Planning And Management Blog and [new]:
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