In the animated movie Megamind; starring Will Ferrell, Brad Pit, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, and David Cross; there is a hilarious scene that always cracks me up. Minion, Megamind’s trusted sidekick, comes busting through a door singing the chorus of a song that is obviously stuck firmly in his head. And given Minion’s polite demeanor, voiced by David Cross, he closes Ozzy Osborne’s psychedelic lines in style. I must admit, I have recited Minion’s rendition a time or two. But it really did not hit me until my now nearly 2-year old son mimicked the words back to me: I’m going off the rails on a crazy train, sir! So funny.
Our kiddo can be a bit of a parrot at times. He has quite the ear and then does his best to repeat what he hears. It can actually catch others off guard and then they reply, “I had better watch what I say!” But it is not just the repeating of the words he hears—it is also the repeating of the actions he sees. For example, because I have no finger dexterity, I hold a fork, pen, and toothbrush differently. I push an elevator button with my knuckle, not my finger. I remove the toothpaste cap with my teeth and then suck out the paste instead of doing the added step of putting it on the brush. These are all things that have become part of my daily routine. Now I see a young developing mind following my process; mimicking my steps and taking them as his own. It got me thinking... And I started to see examples of mimicking all around me.
We see mimicking in sculptures capturing the human form. We see it in paintings beautifully illustrating familiar landscapes. We see it in nature where animals blend into their surrounding environments to disguise their presence. And of course we also see it in acting.
I remember taking a drama class in college. One of our assignments was to recite a scene from a play. The scene the professor selected for me had a character that was bitter and angry. As I prepared for the live reenactment that was to take place in front of the class, I felt myself taking on the character’s emotion. I recall nailing the presentation, but afterwards I still felt the darkness of the character lingering within me. It was as if by simply going through the motions, I unintentionally was becoming something different. I suppose this type of transformation can be good or bad depending on the scenario.
A mentor of mine once told me that we become the product of those that we spend the most time with—the ol’ adage birds of a feather flock together. This powerful form of association can serve us very well, meaning if we are able to surround ourselves with the right people we can take on those positive characteristics. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. If we associate ourselves with five couch potatoes, we will find ourselves becoming the sixth—a glass half empty mindset instead of half full.
At times, we may all find ourselves in a state of reluctance and with an attitude that hinders our ability to move forward and better ourselves. When this happens, something has to change. We may be asking ourselves "What should I do? Where do I start?" Often times we wish we could just flip a switch and become something new—like a magic lotto ticket to a new life—as if we just put on the Halloween costume, mimic the character, and then instantly morph into something we, in the moment, perceive as desirable. As much as we would love for it to work that way, it does not... Or does it? Like a child learning about the world around then, we too can choose a role model to mimic—to give us a new perspective or inspiration to get us started. The thing is, we can instantaneously choose to make a change, but the actual change is not magic, and it is not acting. It will be a grind. And it may take a lot of effort and time.
Change is seldom easy. It starts with a choice, then requires dedication and commitment to follow through. It takes perseverance and grit. The process may require facing whatever monster we have inside of us that has been taking up residence for far too long. But if we remain consistent in our growth, it will work out. As John Maxwell says, “We do not go to the top. We grow to the top.”
Taking a page from the children’s playbook; by observing, exploring, modeling the positive qualities of others, and simply learning from everyday moments; we will grow. It may feel like we are going crazy. But rest assured, the train will stay on the rails ... sir.