Most of us have one or more role models which, in many cases, start with our parents. But beyond them, we often have other inspirational figures in our lives. How does this help with self-improvement?
Effectively, the people who raise us and the adults around us will provide us with a blueprint for successful adulthood, and this, in turn, helps us to make decisions regarding who we want to be and what we want to aspire to.
We might find role models in celebrities or even fictional characters. Perhaps you aspire to be like Barack Obama? Maybe you always thought of yourself as demure and multitalented like Nicole Kidman? Maybe you’re a fast runner and look to some of our great athletes for inspiration?
Wherever you find your inspiration, role models can be a force for great good, but modeling ourselves completely on another person has the potential to be damaging. Let’s look at some tips to help ensure they fall firmly into the former camp.
Nobody is Perfect
The first thing to realize is that nobody is perfect. Taking inspiration from someone is one thing, but hero worship is quite the opposite. What’s important here is that you recognize the limitations of your chosen idol, and don’t put them on a pedestal. Don’t be blind to their flaws, emulate aspects of their character, but be wise enough to learn from their mistakes.
For this reason, it’s also a good idea to have more than one role model and to borrow aspects from each of them, while injecting something uniquely your own.
Another thing to avoid is comparing yourself to others. Role models can help give us vision and inspiration, but in some cases, they can also damage our self-esteem if we compare our success with theirs directly. Try looking for role models who are a similar body type or who work in the same industry. This way, you will find there’s potentially more you can learn from them, and you can emulate them more closely.
Be your own person
I’m not going to tell you who my role models are because I think it’s a very personal thing. During my life I’ve been influenced by a number of different people relating to the stage of life I’m at, the mood I’m in and where I want to be in life. It’s not all deep and meaningful. For example, I have role models for dancing, singing, exercise and cooking. Other role models help define how I see myself, how I react to certain situations, how I dress. I know I’m not alone in this pick-n-mix approach to role models and I’d say this is the best way to do it.
I’ve heard it said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Dr. David McClelland of Harvard University says the people we habitually associate with determine as much as 95 percent of our success or failure in life. This suggests we should be a little choosy with who we hang out with. Over time I’ve tried to cut out people who are negative or toxic. It’s not always easy because some, I regret to say, are family and others I work with. For me, the important thing is I’m aware of them.
Finally, always remember that somewhere out there is someone who considers you to be their role model. So, make sure you acknowledge what an inspiration you already are.