“No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main.”

These words of John Donne are as true today as they were when he first wrote them in the 17th century. Everyone’s connected; everyone’s a part of the whole. As a result, your decisions and your aspirations are naturally inspired, enhanced, and influenced by those who have gone before you and those in the world with you now. Whether from meeting, reading about, hearing stories involving, or witnessing with your own eyes, they’ll always be those on your life’s path you want to emulate. You learn that what they’ve accomplished, you’d like to accomplish, too. You discover that how they operate their massage therapy business, is just what you had imagined for yours. While imitation of others is the highest form of flattery, and while following in someone else’s steps to success can often lead you to success as well, true joy in the business world comes with embracing what inspires you personally and then creating something ingenious from it ~ your own personal style, voice, and uniqueness.

Here’s how to surround yourself with those who inspire you and create your own success:

Step #1 Make a list of people you admire.

Just like business plans and dream boards, literally making a list of people who inspire you will help you to be more like them. On your list, include other massage therapists and owners of massage therapy businesses. In addition, think of relatives, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, colleagues, peers, and celebrities you admire. Add all of them to your list. Next to each name, write down what those people do for a living or, if they’re retired, what field they were in before retirement. Last, detail the reasons why you admire each person that’s on your list.

  • Do they make sound business decisions?

  • Are they “idea” people?

  • Are they millionaires?

  • Are they dependable?

  • Trustworthy?

  • Philanthropic?

  • Can you count on them to always be there no matter what?

  • Are they selfless?

  • Kind?

  • Creative?

  • Spiritual?

  • Generous?

  • Funny?

  • Forgiving?

  • Flexible?

  • Easy to be around?

Identify what it is – specifically – about all the people on your list that makes you admire them.

Step 2: Remove your rose-colored glasses and take another look at your list.

Now that you have your detailed list of all the people you admire and would like to emulate in some way, take a closer look at each person on your list. Do they own 5 lucrative and vastly-popular massage therapy locations, but you know that they haven’t taken a vacation in 5 years? Do they share their time and attention with all sorts of community events and activities, yet they’ve been renting a small apartment for years? Have they published several books about massage therapy, done speaking tours, and create new TV commercials every month, but don’t seem to have any time for their spouse and kids? Are they able to work normal business hours, enjoy time with their family and friends, and have a joyful and meaningful personal life and professional life? While you might first admire the most financially successful massage therapist in your community, perhaps when you take a closer look you’ll discover he’s been divorced 5 times and is often found cranking his elbow at the local watering hole. Not everyone is as they seem; look at the whole picture before you decide you want to be just like someone else.

Step #3: Create a “Top 3” list.

While you can certainly still admire and emulate certain qualities, the work ethic, and character traits of everyone on your list, pick 3 people whose personal and professional lives most succinctly match what you imagine for yourself. If you want to be married and have children and run a successful massage therapy practice, the top three people on your list should not all be single jet-setters who hire others to run their offices. If you want to be involved in the community and of service to others beyond your clients, the top 3 on your list should also reflect those actions in their own lives.

Step #4: Identify the steps your Top 3 took.

It is difficult to emulate someone else if you have no idea how they got where they are. Meet with, interview, or read about the top 3 people on your list and see the path they took that led them to be outstanding in their personal and professional lives. Did they earn advanced degrees? Did they open multiple massage therapy locations? Did they go into business with a partner? Do they have a website that they update on a regular basis and that’s what draws a lot of new clients in? Did they secure investors to help them launch their first practice? Did they connect with vendors to sell soothing candles, minimalistic music CDs, therapeutic pillows, and other stress-freeing products at their practice? Identify the steps the people you admire took. Follow their tracks. Discover as much as you can about their personal and professional journeys that led them to a place you’d like to be.

Step #5: It’s ok to venture off the marked path.

Don’t plan (or expect) to follow the paths exactly of all those you admire. It just cannot be done, so there is no use tossing and turning when you find yourself straying from the directions. You are your own person with your own experiences, personality, quirks, strangeness, and charm! Embrace it! If a person you admire gives lectures, participates in conferences, and publishes an industry magazine twice a year – those are things you can do, too. If, however, one of the massage therapist you admire has her practice open 6 days a week, you don’t have to do that. You can still provide exceptional client service and earn a wonderful income working four days a week! Be inspired and influenced by those you admire, then combine that with your own personal style, skills, and aspirations.