The term Role Model is a relatively new term dating back to the late 1950’s. Prior to that, the common term was mentor. There is a slight difference. Role models are generally considered to be people not known to us whereas mentors are people that work directly with us. Prior to the late 50’s when TV was popularized, looking up to someone unknown to us was not all that possible. Now, we have fairly easy access to many of the intimate details of almost anyone.
There’s often a discussion of the use of role models in sports. Many young adults look up to these successful sports figures and want to be “just like” them. As adults, knowing more of the big picture, we sometimes cringe at the idea that our kids may be wanting to emulate the behavior of these “fine, upstanding” individuals. So what do some parents do? They proceed to make a big deal about how awful and inappropriate that sports figure is. Instead, they could share with their teens all the good and bad points of the individual and guide the teen to emulate the good and learn from the bad.
Do YOU have a Role Model?
This is something we can all learn from. It’s good and healthy to have individuals that we look up to and respect. The thing is, no one is perfect. A role model can provide just as many valuable lessons on what NOT to do as they can on what TO do to be successful.
Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of a role model:
- Take time to learn about the person you are selecting as a role model.
- Make a list of the positive attributes this person has that you want to emulate.
- Make a list of the negative attributes this person has that you want to avoid.
- Attempt to gain a better understanding of what guided the positive attributes. For example, if you love the idea that Donald Trump is hugely successful in real estate even after filing for bankruptcy on multiple occasions, learn more about him and how he got to be as successful as he is. He wasn’t born that way and it didn’t happen overnight.
- Select multiple role models. No one person has all the skills or attributes that we seek. Select several role models and pick the best of them all.
Whether for yourself or for your young adults, role models are an important part of personal development. It makes it far easier to know what we want to become if we can see that it exists somewhere. Help your teens go through this process at the same time you are doing it yourself and you’ll all grow together.