I use copying a lot, although not necessarily through role models-just through traits that other people have that I want.
For example, I'm not very good with anything visual, but one of my friends in college was, and he and I worked together a lot. Later I found that I could "switch" into his mindset to do visual problems, which was a huge help.
I've always used this sort of copying in school-for example, I would do *really* well on assignments that required us to write in the style of some author (even though I did terribly in English most of the time), and I would learn a very wide array of problem-solving methods and mindsets by watching other people. Copying is much faster than trying to learn a mindset on my own.