“One of the best ways to elevate your character is to emulate worthy role models.” — Epictetus
The best life lessons you’ll ever learn will likely come from your role models.
From someone who, through actions, values and behavior shows you what’s possible.
From someone you admire and someone you aspire to be like.
We’re all on a journey to live our best life possible, and one way to ensure we fulﬁll our goals and dreams is to understand the importance of role modeling.
Role modeling is paradoxical — if you surround yourself with positive role models, you’ll likely become an effective role model for others.
“Find someone who has a life that you want and ﬁgure out how they got it. Read books, pick your role models wisely. Find out what they did and do it.” — Lana Del Rey
What Is A Role Model?
A role model is someone who does something really well and is worth imitating. Others tend to look up to and admire them. We often select role models who excel in one or more areas of their lives.
Think of a role model as the ideal person — maybe they’re the best father we’ve ever seen or the most patient and kind human being we’ve ever known.
Our role models teach us how to live better lives by being highly skilled at something, developing our knowledge, or putting forth more effort. Role models help us become better versions of ourselves.
To help you create the life you deserve, use your listening and observational skills to notice others who are living the kind of existence you desire. You might say that a role model is an expert at being the type of person you hope to be.
“I know that being seen as a role model means taking responsibility for all my actions. I am human, and of course, sometimes I make mistakes. But I promise that when I fall, I get back up.” — Jennifer Lopez
Who Are Your Role Models?
You may have already met and established connections with people you believe to be talented, wise, and worthy of duplicating. Interestingly, you may even admire and try to be like someone without identifying them as a role model.
Nonetheless, it’s comforting to know you have helpful, competent role models in your life that you can emulate.
Look through these categories and identify a role model in each one:
A role model who makes you say, “I want to be just like them.”
This individual appears to have it all together. They’re hard workers, nice to others, loving, and effective parents. You’d feel pretty proud of yourself if you could live a similar life.
You aspire to be like this person because you view them as a brilliant human being or a “best all round” sort of individual. This type of role model is likely someone like a grandparent, parent, aunt, or uncle to you.
However, maybe when you were growing up there was a neighbor next door whom you tried to spend as much time with as possible. This person may have been your role model because you viewed them as kind, giving, and caring toward others.
An intellectual role model.
An intellectual role model could be one of your former teachers, a professor you had in college, or a famous author. Maya Angelou for example, wrote some very wise and impactful words in her time — she has therefore become someone to aspire to if we want to live thoughtful, meaningful lives.
Another individual that’s intellectual and inspiring for so many is Dale Carnegie. His books teach the importance of showing conﬁdence, reaching out to others, and standing up to speak in front of others. Who wouldn’t love to possess all those traits?
A role model who excels at their profession.
Regardless of whether you’re a maintenance worker, an ofﬁce manager, or a sales person, it’s important to have someone who you can look up to in your chosen profession.
Your role model doesn’t even have to be someone who works in your exact job.
Consider the number of individuals who used to see ex-NBA basketball player, Magic Johnson, as a wonderful person to imitate. Magic Johnson was excellent at his job, kind to those around him, and continually tried to increase his “job skills.” He was personable, hardworking, and he reached out to others. But mostly, he seemed to glow with positivity.
Maybe you’ve met someone you admire in your line of work when you attended a seminar and saw them presenting a speciﬁc topic. Seeing their zest for their work, incredible focus, and willingness to share their knowledge may have been very attractive to you.
After their speech, maybe you went up and introduced yourself and asked for their business card. You began to learn as much as you could about them, read material they wrote, and talked to others who know them. Did they inspire you or make you feel motivated to perform your best at work?
Maybe at your ofﬁce, there’s someone who’s worked in your ﬁeld for many years and seems to hold a passion for the type of work you do. You’ve endeavored to work as closely as possible with them because you’re in awe of their approach to the job.
Have you chosen someone in your professional ﬁeld to emulate?
A parenting role model.
If you’re striving to be the best parent possible, it’s helpful to have another parent whose footsteps you can follow in.
If you think your mum was the best mum you’ve ever known, then you try to parent just like she did.
Or it could be the father of your best friend in high school. Maybe you thought he was a great parent and have decided to model your parenting style after his.
Having role models will enrich your existence in ways you’ve yet to consider.
Some of your role models are likely people who are accessible to you. Perhaps you can drop in for a visit or make a quick call to run something by them.
Others, like celebrities or well-known authors, create books and websites you can access to seek answers to your questions. Maybe you’ve observed them being interviewed and try to soak up every word they say.
Psychologically, you can “lean on” these types of role models, consider how you think they’d resolve a particular difﬁculty, and then apply that method to your own life.
“Everyone in society should be a role model, not only for their own self-respect, but for respect from others.” — Barry Bonds
Why It’s Important To Have Role Models
Regardless of the type of work you do, whether you’re male or female, or where you live, having role models will make your life easier and more fulﬁlling. There are plenty of reasons to have positive role models.
Consider the reasons why it’s important to have role models:
You can choose whomever you want.
The freedom of deciding who to emulate and which qualities to reproduce in your own life is powerful. Who do you want to be like?
You’ll feel a sense of support.
Even though you may be unable to speak to your role model because they’re a celebrity or someone who’s deceased, you can still think about what you’ve learned from observing the famous person in an interview or speaking to a deceased loved one in the past.
You’ll have someone to turn to for advice.
Many role models are likely open and willing to be contacted.
You can learn about how to solve challenges simply by observing others.
It’s helpful to see your role model “in action,” dealing with struggles, so you can see what they do.
It’s unnecessary to reinvent the wheel.
Someone has likely already done what you desire to accomplish. If you’ve selected your role models wisely, you can learn from how they were able to excel.
When you admire and look up to someone, you’re sending out positive vibes.
When others realize you look up to and respect someone else, they’ll feel inspired themselves.
It makes your life easier.
It relieves stress when you can call on someone in times of need.
You can be a better parent, an extra caring friend, and a more effective co-worker.
It’s within your power to live your best life. And having great role models will help you do it.
The advantages of having role models are great. Consistently having those you trust to turn to in a crisis or teach you how to live a better life ensures you’ll make your own contributions to the world.
For these reasons and more, having role models is a key to a happy and fulﬁlling life.
“My role model was my grandfather. He instilled in me the feeling that no matter how successful you are you have a responsibility to help others.” — Kevin Johnson
Reasons To Become A Role Model
Because you’re likely raising children, working with others, and involved with others socially, you may want to become a role model for others. Being a role model is a valuable experience for you too.
Consider the beneﬁts of becoming someone’s role model:
You’ll have a stronger sense of direction in your life.
When you know someone else is counting on you, you’ll have clearer goals. Because your commitment to your goals is strengthened, you’ll strive to be an incredibly competent role model.
Your conﬁdence will grow.
When we see our role models showing self-reliance and a sense of self-assurance about the choices they’re making in life, it’s infectious. And as you observe others watching and emulating you, your conﬁdence will multiply.
People will look up to you.
It’s a wonderful feeling to know others see that you have integrity, deserve respect, and they admire your success.
When you become a role model for others, you’ll likely live a more enriched, fulﬁlling life than those who choose not to be concerned with modeling behaviors for others. Your own sense of self is strengthened in many complex ways when you strive to be admired and emulated by others.
“I’ve changed for the better. I’m much more selﬂess and humble and you’re reminded about what life’s really about. You love your kid so much that you just want to be a brilliant role model for them. It cleans up your act a bit.” — Curtis Stone
Avoiding Negative Role Models
When we think of role models, we’re usually picturing positive role models. Yet, you’ve likely found yourself in a situation where you’ve been exposed to those who send out a negative vibe. You might have identiﬁed with the source of negativity and even started to follow their lead.
And that’s the power of a role model. We connect with other’s opinions and behaviors, and we strive to be more like them.
So, it’s possible that you could end up following a negative role model.
Find out how to avoid modeling negativity:
Stay in touch with your own emotions.
If you feel uncomfortable or have a negative reaction to someone, dig deep and investigate what’s triggering those emotions.
Listen to your own feelings.
When you identify why you feel uncomfortable around someone, take that information to heart. There’s likely an important reason why you’re reacting this way.
Decline involvement with the negativity.
When someone speaks negatively about someone else or displays a poor attitude, refuse to join the conversation or give into those feelings.
Be aware of peer pressure and how you respond to it.
You may feel incredible pressure to follow along with someone’s negative behavior. But you can choose not to.
Prepare for how you’ll handle negativity.
Those who have the charisma to lead others astray may trip an emotional trigger within you. Determine methods for responding to such behaviors before they occur.
If you dislike being around cursing for instance, think about how you’ll respond if you’re in a conversation where others start using a lot of profanity. Consider what your options would be and choose a possible response.
Exit the situation.
If you ﬁnd yourself profoundly affected by a negative role model and their comments or behavior, remove yourself from the situation.
Maintain a healthy perspective.
Tell yourself that even though you have fond feelings for someone who is now spreading negativity, you can avoid repeating the behavior and becoming a voice for their skepticism.
Take personal responsibility to turn the negativity into positivity.
Sometimes, all it takes is for one individual to avoid joining in. Instead, make some positive comments about something or someone to turn the tide.
Although you may feel like you’re surrounded with uncomfortable skepticism, remind yourself of what you can do to avoid being drawn into the tornado of a negative role model.
“I’m not a role model. I’m a role villain.” — Marilyn Manson
Characteristics Of A Positive Role Model
Positive role models often have an endless list of desirable characteristics. If you’re interested in becoming a role model, it’s wise to begin to cultivate all the best things about yourself. What do you do really well? How are your people skills? What do others compliment you about?
When you pay attention to your own thoughts and behaviors, you have a clearer concept of which areas you can enhance to become a positive role model.
As a positive role model, you’ll want to develop these characteristics:
Embrace a strong work ethic.
Taking a passionate interest in your work and applying yourself each day will build your professional future. It’ll also ensure that newbies and younger co-workers are drawn to your talents and will try to emulate your skills.
Present a neat, clean appearance.
Although expensive clothes are unnecessary to your role model status, clothing that’s neat and unwrinkled will go a long way. Consistently ensure you’re clean and fresh — most of us prefer a pleasant appearance.
Exhibit stellar personal conduct.
How we behave reﬂects much on our character. The way you act towards others at home, work, or out in public reveals to the world the kind of human being you are.
In order for others to admire and emulate you, ensure your conduct is appropriate in all kinds of situations.
Foster loving and involved personal relationships.
When your personal life shows you can have and maintain quality relationships with depth, emotional intimacy, and mutual respect, others will be drawn to you. They’ll wonder about your secret for relationship success.
Display an effective communication style.
When you communicate with others, you’re establishing connections. You’re allowing others the opportunity to get to know you and observe your style of relating.
If you can clearly get your message across to others in respectful ways, remain calm in difﬁcult situations, and listen to others, you’ll be a great role model.
Demonstrate compassion and understanding.
Do you show a true sense of caring towards others? Do you make a concerted effort to understand others’ viewpoints, even if they’re different from yours?
Expressing a sense of compassion toward those around you says a lot about you.
Taking the time to show care, acceptance, and understanding makes you serious role model material.
Illustrate a willingness to take time with others.
Although your life is probably cramped with things to do, a role model consistently makes the choice to take time to listen to others and help them with those vexing challenges.
Hearing the other side of things is often enlightening. It’ll either strengthen your own position or weaken it, which broadens your ability to understand the world. And taking time with others is greatly appreciated.
State your expectations clearly.
When you know what you want and share it with others succinctly, they’ll easily understand where you’re coming from and look up to you.
Show the capacity for working through conﬂicts.
When you negotiate two or more sides to a dilemma and reach an agreement that achieves mutual acceptance, you’re on the path to becoming a role model. Handling conﬂict is one of the toughest things for all of us.
See the opportunities during challenging times.
As difﬁcult as it can be, if you can view the rough spots as opportunities, you’re modeling a strong trait for others. Finding the silver lining is an incredible skill and one that can be passed on as a role model.
As you reﬂect on your own viability to be a role model, think about the skills you possess that could help you be a wonderful example to others.
“I was given such a great gift. It’s a miracle that never stops amazing me and reminding me to give thanks, every day. Having a wife and daughter gives me a lot more purpose. I was much more selﬁsh before, but now I think about what kind of role model I’ll be. I just want to be a better man.” — Jake Owen
What Kind Of Role Model Are You?
When you’re trying to determine whether you’re seen as an effective role model, it’s necessary to evaluate some of your character traits, actions, and attitudes. Your responses to these queries will reveal much about your capacity for role modeling.
Ask yourself these questions:
How effective am I at building rapport with others?
If you easily establish a rapport with others, it means you’re comfortable with yourself and can accept others as they are.
Do I support whatever “team” I’m involved with?
Whether your family members, friends, or co-workers are your team in a given situation, are you the ﬁrst to step in and say, “Way to go!” or “Nice job!” when they need encouragement? Giving support to others on your team makes you a super role model.
How honest and open am I about learning something from others?
An effective role model isn’t afraid to say, “Well, I learned about how to write a monthly operations report from Jane.” If you’re open to learning from others, they’ll be open to learning from you.
When you freely give credit where credit is due, you’ll be admired by others.
Do I promote cooperation among others?
If you show that you’re cooperative and encouraging, you’re sending a powerful message to everyone that working together is the best strategy.
Do I periodically reﬂect on my own behaviors and how I relate to others at home, work, and in social situations?
It’s helpful to consider the type of individual you are, the type of human being you strive to be, and what changes you plan to make to ensure you’re presenting yourself in the best light.
What’s my attitude like most days?
A role model carries positivity within and approaches each day with an upbeat attitude. When you wake up in the morning, assess your mood. Then, decide if you want to adjust your attitude or whether you’re good to go.
You have some tools now to shape yourself into the type of role model you want to become.
Your ability to be an admirable role model can contribute to the world being a better place.
“I don’t think of myself as a role model for others, but I like to live my life by my own integrity. So, in that sense, I might be a positive inﬂuence. I do believe you should get over your insecurities and just try to be the best you can.” — Lily Cole
How Being An Effective Role Model Brings Abundance
There are plenty of advantages to being a positive role model. If you believe in karma, then you know that the more positivity you put out, the more you receive back. And being a positive role model sort of works in that same way.
Consider the following advantages of serving as a role model:
Your kids will look up to you.
It’s cool for kids to see that others admire and like their parents. They might respect you a little more when they see others responding to you in a positive way.
Your peers will respect your judgment.
It’s a good feeling to know that those you work with honor your ideas and wisdom.
You’ll feel more self-reliance and self-assurance.
It all boils down to conﬁdence.
Few things will provide uncomfortable challenges to you.
That’s because you’ve gathered so much experience in dealing with troublesome situations that you simply rise to each occasion with gusto.
The joy you’ll experience by observing the success of others is pretty awesome.
It’s an amazing feeling to realize that you share some small part of the achievements of others because you were their role model.
It’s extremely rewarding when others stand taller, live a cleaner life, or put more effort into their work or home because of something you may have shown them.
The rewards that you can reap from being a role model are great. To live life knowing you’ve connected with many others and presented an example that helped them is pretty amazing.
“I think it’s important for little girls growing up, and young women, to have one in every walk of life. So from that point of view, I’m proud to be a role model!” — Sally Ride
The best life lessons you’ll ever learn will likely come from your role models. The morals and ethics you hold dear require considerable support from others who champion those same ideals.
Even though the media dwells greatly on celebrities and politicians we might see as negative role models, those we’ve learned the most from may live quiet lives that impact a small circle of those around them.
You’ll learn a lot about how to be a positive role model just by observing the negative role models and avoiding what they do. And even though some celebrities in the public eye state that they’re not a role model or don’t wish to be one, you may still stand to gain something from watching them and doing the opposite.
When you demonstrate to others that you have high expectations, treat others equally and fairly, and exhibit solid ethical standards, others will strive to emulate you.
And that makes you a wonderful role model!