Going all the way back to grade school
we’ve been asked about our role models. We’ve written papers, given
presentations in front of our classmates, and for some we’ve even sent thank
you notes. Through college and into my career I have been asked to talk about
my role models. They’ve included my father, coaches, and some I’ve been proud
to call mentors. And, likewise, I have asked others about their role models.
Who are they and why?
The term role model also has a tendency
to get thrown around by famous actors and sports figures. Fans put their
favorite basketball player on a pedestal and idolize the person as a role
model. Why? Musicians make it big by winning a television singing competition
and next thing you know high schoolers are calling that person their role
model. Why? What makes these public figures role models?
When we evaluate our time as students,
athletes, professionals, parents, etc. we are guided by the role model
principle in that we should look up to these individuals as role models because
we want to be like them, emulate their behavior, and hope for success (differing
definitions of course) just like them.
Have you ever been asked about your
I have long believed, as a sales manager
and mentor, that while discussing the positive attributes of one’s role model
is worthwhile, uncovering the negative attributes of someone’s anti-role model
can be even more beneficial. Who do you not want to be? Who do you not want to
act like? Who’s behavior is questionable regardless of their level of success?
What would make you want to run the other way if you saw the person walking
As a student, in sports, in your
community, in your career, in your church, local politics, civic leaders, there
are many that simply should not earn the respect they sometimes garnish. I
oftentimes think of the professional athlete that is held up in the public eye
as a great person but has a substance abuse problem, has been arrested for
domestic violence, and has little regard for the fans that pay money to watch
him or her play a game. Another comes to mind in a former coworker,
a sales person, who would cut corners and lie to customers simply to get the
sale. He never did any follow-up work after the purchase order was obtained. He
burned bridge after bridge in an attempt to pad his pockets. There was no sense
of loyalty and once all bridges were burned he would find another company to
sell for and repeat the process. Outside of his professional environment he
treated his personal relationships much the same, dating multiple women at the
same time, and even two becoming pregnant by him at the same time. He abandoned them too and
moved. He jumped for money, period.
In recognizing these people as anti-role
models, we can build a list of characteristics that we want to avoid. A
positive role model can help you define who you want to be while an anti-role
model can also help you define who you want to be. Sometimes it can be helpful
to remember the old saying: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Anti-role
models are easy to spot. True role models tend to be humble which makes them