Want: The power of imitative will in daily life
By Luke Burgess, St. Martin’s Press, 2021
In the new book Wanting, Luke Burgess, Resident Entrepreneur and Program Director at Catholic University, Bush School of Business, USA, takes readers into the rabbit hole of imitation theory. Developed by French sociologist and philosopher Renেনে Girard in the 1960s and 1970s, the theory of imitation seeks to explain human relationships and culture in terms of will. Girard’s theory and Burgis’s book deserve executive attention because they provide leaders with insights into their own behavior and careers, as well as the behavior of many stakeholders that they are accused of understanding and influencing.
Our aspirations – above and beyond our innate human needs – are the driving force behind the theory of imitation. Girard’s analysis begins, innocently, with the suggestion of the aspirations that shape every aspect of our lives, arising from observing other people and accepting them as often-unconscious models.
In short, someone else has what we want. 1957 film Will Rock Hunter spoil the success? Provides a satirical example that for some leaders can hit uncomfortably near home. Tony Randall has played the role of a low-level advertiser who wants an executive’s salary and prestige. But when he hit a project using Jane Mansfield’s lips to promote a client’s lipstick and then rocketed to the top of his Madison Avenue agency, he wondered why he wanted to go there in the first place. He goes to raise chickens.
Girard’s theory is not so ridiculous. He argued that people give birth to competition to realize their ambitions. Sometimes, when the desired resources are limited, the competition intensifies into conflict. And since most people do not understand or acknowledge the true nature of conflict, they sacrifice others. Girard believed that these innocents were unjustly sacrificed in a kind of relief valve for social pressure. Witness the Holocaust and the demonism of Jews in Nazi Germany.
Gerard went on to identify Judeo-Christianity as a historic catastrophe that disrupted the sacrificial goat process. With the crucifixion of Jesus, the sacrificial goat sacrifice was revealed as an unjust act, Burgess writes, and “a veil was raised over the recurring cycle of violence in human history.” (Unfortunately, lifting the veil did not eliminate the scapegoat or the violence.)
Like Girard, Burgess sees exemplary aspirations everywhere, and he explains all sorts of phenomena through its prism, including his own entrepreneurial ambitions. After Burgis started several companies, those ambitions were almost completely fulfilled when Tony Hesieh and Zappos agreed to acquire his e-commerce wellness company, Fit Fuel. During the Great Recession, the contract was broken, the fit fuel was cut off, and Burgess reassessed his will. Burgess also points out the difficulties that companies like Zappos have encountered in implementing holocaust and trying to mimic the success of the Montessori education system, although not always credible. Whether or not you see the whole society as a reflection of imitative aspirations, a clear awareness of how it can influence your decisions will definitely come in handy.
If you do not know why you want what you want, it is difficult to set your goals and prioritize and evaluate the steps you take to reach them. Are billionaires launching themselves into space because, as children, they unconsciously adopted John Glenn and Neil Armstrong as role models? Did Richard Branson run to defeat Jeff Bezos because of the exemplary rivalry?
It could be that Branson is smarter than that. Maybe he knows that those who are less aware of the source of their aspirations are more likely to be influenced by promotional stunts and other marketing strategies, and by Virgin Galactic and the organization, the rest of his companies stand to benefit. “Mimetic will works in the dark. Those who see in the dark take full advantage, “wrote Burgess.
Imitation desire works in the dark. Those who see in the dark take full advantage. “
Great marketers must be masters of fake manipulation. Burgess cited public relations pioneer Edward Barnes as a prime example. In 1929, when the American Tobacco Company realized that violating the ban on public smoking of women could generate Beacons revenue, it hired Barnes’s firm. He persuaded 30 New York City debutants to attend the Easter Parade and illuminate the Lucky Strike — and arranged for them to be photographed. The next day, a picture of smoking “Torch of Freedom” appeared in newspapers across the country. Sales of Lucky Strike tripled the following Easter.
Facebook and Twitter are also notable examples of imitative will power. “Mimetic desire is the real engine of social media,” Burgess wrote. “Social media is powerful because it is Social mediation. It is full of models that mediate our desires. Every time we see a post about a neighbor’s new Netflix show that he loves, we’re not just using the media. We are consuming the will. “
Most Wanting Dedicated to translating and illustrating Girard’s theories in a usable way, and Burgess did a great job at that. The most important point of the book, even if it is somewhat opaque, is that leaders choose to follow a fancy aspiration called bourgeoisie: The model is the external mediator of the will. These leaders expand the universe to everyone’s liking and help them explore it. “