There's a curious quirk with the human brain. It's how it's possible to navigate the social context without our heads melting.

Because think about it: in order to do just about anything, you need to predict how other people react.

But you can not simulate another brain (and maintain your own) without being orders of magnitude smaller than they are.

Somehow, you manage. Sure, it's not perfect, but you can usually predict how people will respond.

When to use flattery and when to be stern, for example.

This quirk of your unconscious mind can let you learn insights from people you've never even met.

Even people you could never meet.

The funny thing is that it even works with fictional characters.

It's all to do with how you think about other people.

People are complex black boxes. You can not pull them apart and study how they work. But you do have one important advantage when it comes to predicting them:

You're a human, too.

Do not underestimate its value. If you want to know how your friend Jim will respond to something, think about how you'd respond to it.

That's a pretty good approximation. He'd prefer $ 50 to a punch to the gut – you know this because you would, too.

But you can get a little more sophisticated.

For example, you know (from earlier observation) that Jim is generous and impatient. So you wonder how you would react to something if you were generous and impatient.

The amazing thing is that this works. You can imagine yourself having a different personality well enough to think as they think.

What's even more remarkable is how normal this is.

Yeah, everyone says, of course you can change your personality by pretending to. That's obvious.

Obviously? Yes and also miraculous. What incredible power lies in your unconscious mind!

This is how you can learn from people you've never met.

Think of someone – anyone – who you admire. It could be Elon Musk. It could be Julius Caesar. Or Sherlock Holmes. Living or dead, real or not, it does not matter.

Then wonder how they'd approach a given situation.

How would they talk to their friends and solve their problems? How would they think about things in your life?

Your prediction will not be perfect, but it will be strangely good.

Do this and keep practicing. Simulate the thought habits of people you admire. Keep going until you forget that you're pretending.

Then you have it:

Free coaching on demand from anyone. Anyone at all. Living or dead, real or fiction, you can picture how they think and then learn from them.