Dangers of looking for your own success in Biographies

Most recently, I read Steve Jobs' biography and it got me thinking... What kind of people get biographies written about them? Why do people read biographies? And finally, are there any dangers in reading too many biographies?

Biographies aim to present a person’s life story in a detailed and engaging way, highlighting their achievements, challenges, personality, and legacy.

So, what kind of people get biographies written about them?
Biographies are written about people who have some kind of significance or influence in the world, such as historical figures, political leaders, celebrities, artists, scientists, celebrities, writers, activists, and so on. Biographies can also be written about ordinary people who have extraordinary stories to tell, such as survivors, heroes, adventurers, and innovators.

So why would people read these biographies?
What do they find in these pages that make them read about real life and not fantasy and fiction?
These are some of the reasons I could come up with...
1. Reading biographies is also reading history. For example, reading about Nelson Mandela would give us a detailed sense of the Apartheid regime in South Africa in his times.
2. Reading biographies is learning culture. If you read Andre Agassi's biography, you would get a sense of the Tennis culture that you would not know about from watching tennis or even documentaries about tennis.
3. Reading biographies gives life lessons on how the protagonists overcame difficulties in their own life
4. Reading about your heroes is inspiring. It gives you a sense of how the impossible could be done by one person!

So there is definite merit in reading biographies. However, the one thing to be mindful of is if the subject of the biography has any influence in writing the biography, or if it is an autobiography, the story will have biases. It is unlikely to be a fully objective account of the subject.

That aside, there are some pitfalls too, in reading biographies to find your own success in them.

1. The first pitfall is that biographies could give the reader an inferiority complex. If (and most likely) you find that the subject has achieved so much more than you have till date, it is likely to give you a sense of your own lack of achievements.

2. The second problem with biographies are they are generally well-written stories. Stories are generally linear and sometimes take creative liberties and therefore, not truly reflective of the real messiness of life. They may give you a false impression of how much messy your own professional or personal life is, when in truth the subject went through the same mess - only it is now just very well written about!

3. The third problem with biographies is they could nudge you into assuming a personality that is not your own. If you try to emulate Steve Jobs' leadership style when your own personality dictates differently, you are inviting trouble for yourself.

4. Finally, it is a mistake in looking into biographies for success templates. The success path your biography's subject took is highly unlikely to be replicated. Your environment is different, your own personality is different, times are different. If you try to assume another's success as your own template, you are likely going to founder.

Final word: Read... it is good to read. Read biographies... they can inspire! But do not try to find your own success in the path that others followed. You might find yourself poorer for the effort!



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