Why role models are important

September 29, 2018

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When we are young and growing up, there is always an elder person whom we admire and dote on for many reasons. Usually, it is a parent, teacher, sibling, cousin or uncle/aunt, who is someone we look up to and copy. Some of us may do it intentionally, while some of us will do it without realising how influenced we are getting by them.

They are our role models and these role models keep changing as we grow up, according to the changes in our tastes and needs. Having role models in our life is very important, and having good role models is more important, as they influence what we do and how we turn out eventually.

Positive role models influence our actions and motivate us to strive to uncover our true potentials and overcome our weakness. Having them pushes us to make the most of our life.

make the most of our life.

Role models are a must for self-improvement because we must have a standard to strive for or compare ourselves with. There must be a ‘greatness’ or a ‘stardom’ (not in terms of showbiz) that we should wish to achieve if we want to have even a mediocre amount of success in any aspect of life. Therefore, it is important to have the right inspiration to discover who you are and do your best.

All great leaders, sportsmen and high-achievers have one thing in common — they all have positive role models whom they strived to emulate in some way and eventually end up doing better than their role models.

Argentinian player Lionel Messi confessed to having France legend Zinedine Zidane as his role model in football when he was growing up, labelling him a “hero”. Now, don’t you think Messi has probably outdone Zidane as a footballer?

And since Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg became global icons due to their phenomenal success in the fields of technology and business, many youngsters have joined the tech bandwagon and set up businesses by following their passion or any out-of-the-box idea that came to their heads. Some even became dropouts like Zuckerberg to give full time to their passion, though I can’t say it’s a bright idea.

Now let’s see what role models do for us and how we must choose ours.

Choose carefully

Our expectations are usually based on what we see around us. And it is likely that what we see around us is just ordinary or average, even though we may think otherwise.

So we should base our role models carefully, choosing those who are at the top of their game, the best in their field — but with a strong moral standing and of an upright character. Though they may have their flaws (who doesn’t?) they should be inspiring in spite of their weaknesses. This will help us to see how it is possible to overcome or simply turn a weakness into a strength, and not let flaws hold us back from being the best of us.

Make them our coach

All sportspersons and teams have coaches. Often a change in the coach influences the performance of the player or the team.

Have you wondered why a world class player or the best player in the world needs a coach when they already are so good at their game?

It is because a coach keeps us motivated, on target, inspired and shows us how to overcome our weaknesses and how to face difficult situations.

Now we can’t have personal coaches — for one thing, they are very expensive — but we can have our role models as our coaches to motivate us on daily bases. The life, struggles, successes and failures of our role models contain many lessons that can inspire and motivate us in daily life.

Know more about the right role model for the kind of person you want to become and use the lessons of his or her life to deal with your life. Mostly we get to see a successful person, but we don’t realise the struggles they had to go through to get to become who they are. Try to learn about those struggles and see if you are also facing similar problems, surely you will find a solution there.

If your role model is your parent, teacher or a family member, you have the advantage of having access to them so that you can talk to them and get tips on how to go about things. They can become your personal coaches, and good ones too because they care about you and seeing you do well is as important to them as it is to you. But for this you have to make the effort to reach out to them, especially with a problem, otherwise they will not know what you want.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Have worthy role models

My father always told me to always strive and work hard for 100 percent marks, than I will at least get 90 or 80 percent, but if I only strive for 80 percent, thinking that it will get me an A grade which is what I want, I will realistically get only 70 to 60 percent.

He was right, as is this quote by Norman Vincent Peale, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” This means that even if we don’t attain our original goal, we can still have success.

Now relating this with the concept of role models, always have worthy role models who are among the best in their field or have had greatest success with what we want to do. This way we will set high expectations from ourselves, making us give our best and not settle for mediocre success.

Find motivation

Often we start off with high spirits and great enthusiasm, heading for the right goals, but the moment we face challenges and difficulties, we start losing steam and enthusiasm.

Our role models can motivate us to overcome challenges because they faced a lot of challenges and overcame those. They proved that no obstacle is too big to overcome, in fact, some successful people have had challenges that are generally considered insurmountable.

For instance, Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s greatest scientists who recently died at the age of 76, had a slow-progressing form of a motor neurone disease that struck him in his twenties and gradually paralysed him over the decades. He lost his speech, but it didn’t let it deter his determination and he continued his scientific research and communicated it to the world through a speech-generating device by using a single cheek muscle!

For staying motivated or inspired, we should look for someone who inspires us to be the best we can.


Finding the right role models

Our family

Our parents and grandparents are often our early role models in life. They are also one of the best choices for us as they share the values and principles that should guide our life. We should listen to their stories, learn about their struggles and study their path of success and failure. There are countless lessons in these that will guide us about what to do and what to avoid.

It is also an advantage that we can easily turn to them for advice, which they impart based on their experience and our well-being in mind.

Turn to history

There are countless people in history, in all walks of life, who can make great role models. So read history, whether it is about business, science, political or showbiz, whatever is relevant to us. There are so many great people to admire and they can easily become the beacon of light for us.

Read biographies

Reading biographies of different high achievers will tell us all about their beginning and how they turned out to become. Some may have had luck favouring them, others may have just had to depend on their determination, hard work and talents, whatever it is, we all have many lessons to learn in there.

We should try to take note of their good habits and incorporate them in our routine, and avoid the mistakes that they made.

Have multiple role models

We need different role models for different stages and aspects of life. Therefore, we need to have more than one role model so that we can pick up one aspect or good thing from one and have another good thing to admire and aspire for in another role model.

And as we grow, we may find someone else who better fits our situation and aspirations so we should replace some role models with new ones.

Published in Dawn, Young World, September 29th, 2018