Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Let's Talk About Role Models

If I were to ask you to name your biggest role models in life, could you rattle them right off?  Most people can't.  Most people have never consciously chosen role models, although of course, we all are influenced by others throughout our lives. 

When it comes to living an extraordinary life, role models are a requirement.  They're necessary because odds are, few people in your day-to-day life are inspiring you to greatness.  And even if you do have some powerful women or men you especially look up to and strive to be like, I've found we need lots of role models to embody a variety of different qualities we want to develop in ourselves.

Role models are delicious.  They widen your world from what you personally have experienced, inspire you, motivate you, fill your head with ideas and best of all, their influence is available to you any time at no charge thanks to libraries, bookstores, movies and the Internet.  How do you find them?  It's so easy.  Just look around at people, lives and experiences that speak to you.  As you read books, websites and magazines, notice what jumps out at you and find a way to delve deeper into that in your free time.

Throughout my adult life I've had dozens of role models who embodied qualities I wanted to develop.  My list includes:
  • Cary Grant for his enduring friendships, financial frugality and foresightedness
  • Audrey Hepburn for her grace and huge heart
  • Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for her fierce privacy and immovable personal boundaries
  • Princess Diana for her raw humanitarianism
  • Marilyn Monroe for her constant striving to perfect her craft
  • Cindy Crawford for her entrepreneurialism and willingness to take professional risks
  • Hubert Keller for his tireless enthusiasm and incredible work ethic
  • Helen Gurley Brown for her generous career teachings to her own and future generations
  • Jim Rohn for his humor and unique way of speaking that conveyed important ideas so simply and clearly
  • Diana Vreeland for her boldness and elegant eccentricity
  • George Balanchine for his extraordinary creativity
This list is just a small sampling of extraordinary lives I've studied in detail.  Each of these people has provided me with valuable instruction in how I want to live my life, even if I have never met them.  As they entered my world and engaged me, I made it a point to read books and articles about them, so I could get a detailed picture of their uniqueness and how they came to develop those special qualities.

Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking their role models have to be perfect.  To me, that's a big error in thinking because, for one thing, no one is perfect.  Secondly, just because someone has messed up in one area of their life doesn't mean they can't inspire and teach incredible things in another part of their life.  I don't require my inspirations to be perfect.  Even their flaws can teach me something important.

1 comment:

joel robbins said...

When I think of role models, I usually think of people I actually know. While your role models are all amazing people, I wonder if you actually met them.
In my circle, from my mother I learned to be tolerant of other people.
From my former boss Errol, I learned that there are limits to what I can do, and to accept and work within those limits.
From my sister Ann and my brother Fred, I learned to appreciate what I have in my life, and to enjoy the life I have.
Choosing a role model from among people we know does limit our options, but I thinnk the traits we choose to emulate also says a lot about who we are.
Just somoe thoughts.