Stealing Feels Good, Here’s Why You Should Try It At Least Once

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Stealing Makes Me Feel Good

I’ve got something to confess.

It’s about time I reveal what I’ve been doing. I’m a thief and I’ve been stealing for years.

It started off as a small thing.

You know, it always starts small.

You realize how easy it is and you work your way up to bigger steals.

It made me feel… Good. I think everyone should try it at least once. You can’t beat the rush you get from stealing.

That adrenaline you get from getting away with something naughty. That lingering fear that you might get caught.

It’s just so wrong.

I’m not talking about stealing tangible belongings

You can breathe easy now.

What I mean is that I’ve been taking characteristics from others that I admired. I break down their behaviors to see how I could learn from how they carry themselves.

Stealing has been working brilliantly.

From an early age I had this misconception that being cool was about hands in your pocket and back against the wall. Toss some sunglasses on there and you’ve got yourself a recipe for drop-dead sexiness.

So I looked at tv shows that had cool characters so I could mimic their greatness. Turns out that tv wasn’t a good medium to learn from.

Which brings me to my first point.

Copying the wrong people can hurt you more than anything.

I’m sure you know that. For example, no one aspires to be like Screech from Saved by the Bell. Not even Screech wants to be like Screech. Sorry, Screech.

What I do now is look at the people who are living and breathing around me.

They have certain aspects of their lives figured out that you’re still missing the piece for.

Even with that you’ve got to be careful who you choose to learn from.

Don’t go out of your way to change into someone you’re not.

Take the good and leave the bad.

Learning to be everyone’s best friend

A buddy of mine I went to college with was a social beast. Everywhere he went he’d engage in conversations with at least 5 different people.

It was insane because you couldn’t tell whether or not he knew already someone.

He treated everyone like he’s known them for years. I had difficulty figuring out whether or not this guy knew everyone on campus or if it was just how he was all the time.

I love talking to people as much as the next guy, but my friend took it to a whole new level.

I learned from him that you should treat everyone like you’ve known them for all your life. It makes people feel good about themselves and about you. It also makes meeting new people easier.

He was also 100% genuine in everything he did. He invested in what you had to say to him. He’d listen and press on for more questions.

You’d feel like you were the most important person in the world when you sat down with him.

You bet I stepped up my listening game after hanging out with him.

Learning to live in the moment

Another friend reminds me of Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother. His face even looks like him a bit too, but mostly it’s his mannerisms and the way he speaks.

I learned how to relax and have fun from this guy. He seems to always be present. His mind is never wandering off and he clearly enjoys every moment with his friends. He never censors himself and what comes out of his mouth is always hilarious.

There are days where I’m stiff and living in my own head while I’m out and about. There are nights where I watch what I say a little too much.

It’s not good when you do that because you start missing out on what makes socializing so great. The unfiltered conversations where everyone is shouting what’s on their mind.

Thanks to him, I started focusing on staying in the moment and having fun.

Learning to empathize

This person was the nicest person I knew. She treated everyone with respect and made sure they were always comfortable. She tried talking to everyone even if she was nervous because she’d much rather stick her own neck out than let someone feel lonely.

I wasn’t always so empathetic towards others’ feelings. I was often reckless. I said things just for the sake of getting a word out. I didn’t make an effort to ensure everyone was enjoying themselves.

But you have to think about how you make others feel. Maya Angelou said it best:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

How you make people feel affects relationships. They can either be strengthened or strained and empathy makes the former much easier.

I learned to be empathetic from her.

Learning to be who I am today

Finally, there’s one of my best friends who I have to give the most credit to.

He’s inspired me in hundreds, maybe even thousands, of ways. I don’t know if he realizes the impact he’s had on me.

He’s been a huge part of my development. He changed the way I see the world.

I can’t even begin to list just how far I’ve gotten because of this guy. Starting Self Stairway was influenced by him. Working on my posture, my interest in the world of fashion, and so many more things. All thanks to him.

So there. You now know my biggest secret.

I’m a thief and I’m unashamed.

You’ve got to choose your own role models and figure out what you can take from them.

Set your eyes on your marks.

What makes them awesome?

They won’t mind you reaching into their pockets.

Thievery of the mind is the sincerest form of flattery.

What do you think? Is stealing good? Have you stolen before? Leave your thoughts and stories in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Henry Burrows, Flickr

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway. After landing his dream job with Empire Flippers, he dropped out of college and began living a location independent lifestyle (still always drawn to coffee shops though.) Don't worry, he still publishes every Monday and hasn't missed a single week since starting this site in January 2013.

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42 responses to Stealing Feels Good, Here’s Why You Should Try It At Least Once

  1. I wrote 100s of songs by stealing bits and pieces of style, ideas, grooves. This is good advice. We can learn from those who have already succeeded in an area we practice. For me however, the older I get, the less I steal, and the more I’m driven to be an original.

    • It works when it comes to creativity too! Although you don’t want to be a carbon copy of course. Instead, I dissect what makes a unique attribute of an artist special. The psychology behind why what they’re doing works provides a lot of insight that you can make yours.

  2. Stealing small characteristics is all well and good, but if you end up exchanging every valid part of your character to become some sort of ungodly bastard behavior child of 5 pick up artists and 3 famous public speakers… you would start to become pretty bland I think.

    But stealing things like, general body language, posture, speaking speed and things like that is awesome in moderation.. can really blow your mind how effective it is too.

  3. Vincent,

    Certainly a good side of “stealing”

    I think this is a lot of the basis of the Jim Rohn quote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”, because most people do this to SOME degree whether consciously or unconsciously.

    When you surround yourself with hard driven, successful people you cannot help but to begin to pick up their traits. Same goes for hanging around with unsavory folks.

    But making a conscious decision to emulate the personality traits you desire can supercharge that natural trait.

    Sort of like conifdence. I have always believed in a, “fake it til you make it” philosophy. Act like you know what you are doing enough, and eventually you realize you really do.

    • I’ve always liked Jim’s quote. Most of it is subconscious. That’s almost unavoidable.

      But consciously analyzing and implementing is where you can really become that awesome superman you’ve always wanted to be. My last friend I talk about in this article was mostly subconsciously influential to me. The rest were more conscious.

  4. Vincent’s a thief? You scoundrel! :)

    In all seriousness I do the exact same thing. I’m always taking note on what other people are doing right. That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with amazing people.

    This can even be applied to your work life. All artists are thieves. It’s impossible not be influenced by someone else’s work.

  5. I love it!

    Who you are isn’t static – we’re all in the process of becoming what we want to be. So why not steal what we believe are the best qualities from other people?

    So, who are you stealing from now?

    • I’m not sure who I’m stealing from now. I suppose the first and second friend I mentioned in this article are people I’m still thinking a lot about. Although I won’t be seeing either of them again until May since I’ll be in the Philippines.

      Right now I’m thinking of people who influence me in the business side of my life. Jon Morrow, for example, inspired the basis of this article’s headline and the introduction.

  6. With my wife’s help (she would talk to a brick wall), I became carefree on our recent cruise and just started talking to people – families next to us at dinner, the cruise photographers, the room stewards, people who root for the same college team I do.

    While some kind of shrugged it off, most were very responsive. By the end of the week, we couldn’t walk very far without running into people we knew. This type of thing goes against my nature, but I can honestly say I was fully present in the moment. It was quite refreshing and fulfilling.

  7. hahaha awesome, very provocative, and very true. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants!

    I’d say we owe it to ourselves to steal (before adding our own personality to w/e it was we stole) instead of trying to duplicate things that some great minds have already figured out.

  8. I’ve stolen from every person I’ve ever respected. If I respect someone or their work, it’s damn near impossible not to borrow from them. I’ve even stolen from myself. When I compose I often go looking at old compositions for nuggets. It works, man.

    What a delightful post, V!!!

  9. In the words of my friend, “copy shamelessly”! Do something that somebody else has proven effective and who knows it might work with you! The secret to success is find the Model.

    • Shamelessly indeed! Just remember not to be stuck up and think you’ve gotten to where you are on your own. I sometimes forget that I’m the product of a lot of different people who nudged me on the right path.

  10. To be honest, I’m a dirty rotten thief.

    One of my favourite philosophies is ‘Standing on the shoulders of giants’ – the idea that you use those who have gone before to help you move forward.

    As Geoff Thompson said, everything that has ever been accomplished, every thought, action and life lesson has been written down for our consumption. In fact, if we don’t ‘steal’ from those who have gone before then we are really just fumbling around in the dark.

    Don’t do that – the light bulb has already been invented – there is no shame in using it!

  11. Someone else already mentioned it, but I think it’s worth reiterating: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

    Of course, we can always pick and choose qualities we see in other people and try to emulate them in our own lives, but I think the more powerful strategy is to surround ourselves with people who have these qualities.

    The people we hang out with on a daily basis have a huge influence on us, whether we realize it or not, and a lot of us fail to realize that, for the most part, we have the power to choose who we surround ourselves with. Actively seek out people you admire, people who inspire you, and make an effort to hang out with them. Stop hanging out with people who bring you down and surround yourself with passionate people who will drive you to be the best person you can possibly be.

    • Or you can admire from afar. ;)

      Just so I don’t confuse people who are reading this, I’m kidding! I mean, you could admire from afar but it’s much better to actually hang out with incredible people. They’ll rub off on you and it’s not as creepy. :)

  12. I have done this without really making a effort but how will focus more on what people say. I still make standard statements that I heard my Dad said to people everyday. It works!

  13. Brilliant! Why not take the best from everyone you meet and strive to be like them. Love this idea!

  14. Yes, Vincent! I am a thief. I have had several “greats” in my life who carry themselves certain ways that appeal to me. I have tried approaches on for size, kept what fits, and discarded what doesn’t. What never worked for me was trying to look like someone else – hairstyle, accessories, house, car. I choose personality traits that I love and compare them to what I’m already doing. Comparing yourself to others has such a stigma attached to it (and probably should if it’s money-related! Keeping up with the Jones is highly overrated and can lead to divorce!), but I say if done carefully and tastefully, you can find what works for you.

    What a nice tribute to your best friend. I hope he sees what you wrote. I know if I were your best friend, I would love to read that.

  15. I’ve been doing exactly what you’ve said for a while now!

    It was a little confusing at first but, as you’ve said, you just have to find a good role-model and start to slowly steal the traits they exhibit. You have to mold yourself into it and it doesn’t happen suddenly, it takes time to ease into it.

    I’m glad that this way of thinking works and help make you a better person.

  16. I remember when I was a kid I was stealing chocolate eggs from the market, it’s was a Belarus copy of kinder surprise and the only reason I been stealing them – because our family couldn’t afford them. Stealing is great till you get caught and if you will steal a badge from a car be sure that car doesn’t belong to mafia, otherwise you can get killed.

    Probably everyone has stolen something in their life until they’ve been caught.

    Thank you for the post. :-)

  17. I think if we where all honest we have all done the type of “stealing” you talked about. The successful people have seen and adapt best practices and techniques into what they are doing. Great thoughts man!

  18. Probably the way you have explained things are different.

    In fact I feel this can be explained with different choice of words and frame of mind.

    Initially it looks negative in the post but overall the concept is about adapting and taking the right things from what we see from people.

    This in not to offend but I feel in your future post you can choose power words that would influence people, stealing is definitely not the word no matter how hard we project it in with different concept.

    You are doing a great job, keep rocking, stay focussed.

  19. I DO like stumbling onto your blog, Vincent! What you’re writing about looking very much like what Albert Bandura referred to as “modeling.” You’re taking the best characteristics from people you respect and accommodating them into your thoughts and behavioral patterns. That’s how we all do it. As SJ Scott quoted from Jim Rohn above, you are the average of your five closest associates. So that would mean two things…

    1. Get closer to the kind of person you want to become.

    2. Be your best self with others, and be a role model for them.

    Thanks for the great read. :)

  20. Oh yeah, I like to take good qualities from people around me. Rather than saying I’m a thief, I’d rather say I borrow people’s good qualities and try to make them my own.

    I think it helps to break down what people are doing that you admire. See what it is that makes them stand out so much. Why are they so awesome? That way, you can try and incorporate it into your own life. Rather than copying someone’s qualities, I try to make it my own – tweak some things around to fit my own unique style.

    I love what you’re saying here. We should all be trying to emulate the great qualities we see in great people. They’re obviously doing something right, it would pay to figure out what. On the other hand, we can learn from bad qualities too – learn what people are doing wrong.

  21. I usually hear copying best practices from others or ‘benchmarking’ in its application to business. It can actually be used if one wants to become a successful person. Thanks for the insight!

    I think I would really like to steal from you Vincent, not even once. haha

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