In this complex world, we are often faced with many choices and endless possibilities, which can be overwhelming. As a result, we commonly seek guidance and inspiration. Role models can provide direction, embody our aspirations and inspire us to chart a path to make our dreams a reality. But what exactly is a role model?
Conventional wisdom portrays role models as distant idols or famous personalities. While that can be true, role models are often ordinary people in our communities who shape our lives for the better.
Ahead, we will explore what role models are, what makes a good one and why they are important.
Definition of a Role Model
A role model is a person who can provide inspiration and influence others. They are someone that others can look up to and who possesses admirable qualities and behaviors. Role models set a positive example through their actions, attitudes and achievements, making them a source of motivation for those who seek to emulate their qualities.
Role models can come from various walks of life. They can be teachers, artists, celebrities, athletes and leaders. They are often people we see every day in our communities. People may become role models to others because they excel in their respective fields, demonstrate good character or make a positive impact on society.
Role models can also act as mentors by sharing their experiences and knowledge to help others navigate challenges and make better choices. Though not perfect, successful role models are able to acknowledge their imperfections and learn from them, demonstrating resilience and growth in the face of adversity.
There are many prominent examples of role models in every field. Malala Yousafzi, for example, is an activist who is the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize and is recognized by many as a role model for her advocacy for women. Yousafzi is well known for working to make education accessible to women across the world.
Tennis champion Serena Williams has won 23 Grand Slam single titles so far in her illustrious career. She is widely viewed as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Given her grace and dominance as a Black woman in a competitive sport, many look up to her as a role model.
What Makes a Good Role Model?
Characteristics of a Role Model
- Excellence: Role models are generally leaders in their respective fields. By amassing success, these individuals provide roadmaps for people to emulate.
- Empathy: A good role model has good emotional intelligence and shows understanding and compassion to others in times of difficulty.
- Integrity: An effective role model is honest, espouses strong moral values and aligns their words with their actions.
- Leadership: Role models can exhibit strong leadership qualities, guiding and inspiring others to reach their full potential. Good role models lead by example, showcasing excellence while demonstrating high integrity.
- Resilience: Role models show resilience during challenging moments. They bounce back from setbacks, learn from failures and demonstrate perseverance. Their ability to overcome adversity inspires others to do the same.
How To Be a Role Model
- Lead by example: An essential part of being a role model is setting an example for what ethical behavior and leadership look like. Being a good role model involves demonstrating the values and behaviors you want others to learn.
- Practice self-awareness: Understanding your values, beliefs, strengths and weaknesses is key to being a good role model. Self-awareness will enable you to model the qualities and actions that align with your values.
- Never stop learning: Even as role models teach others, they make an effort to continuously learn. The best role models have a passion for learning, prioritize personal and professional development throughout their lives and embrace new challenges and experiences. They freely share the insights they have gained, teaching and inspiring others in their own journeys.
The Importance of Role Models
Finding a good mentor or role model can influence our lives for the better. Role models have the power to shape a person’s identity and decisions. From infancy into childhood, people learn by watching and copying others. The type of role model they look up to can have a significant impact on their identity, the relationships they form and the types of decisions they make. While role models may change throughout a person’s teenage years and adulthood, the lessons learned early on can shape the type of role models they emulate as they mature.
To learn more about this topic and others, follow Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners Robert F. Smith on LinkedIn.