When we imitate someone the goal is to copy what we see; to replicate; to produce more of the same. Think Rocket Internet or cheap Japanese electronics from the 70’s.
When we emulate, on the other hand, we take inspiration from a role model, a hero. And with effort we might one day hope to acquire their qualities, and to equal or surpass their level of skill and recognition.
We can learn from the successes and failures of our role models, and use these lessons to guide us on our personal journey.
In time we might create something worthy of recognition, and become a role model for the people who are seeking to emulate the success of the people who have gone before them.