What is a role model?

I was asked a question this week by a young person, Scady what is a role model? The question quickly moved from one to another, and another. By the time she was through we were both engaged in a huge discussion on the importance of a role model. I remember doing research a few years ago while I was at Monroe and believe me we had to do a lot of research. That habit kicked in again as I searched for the best article I could find with reference to role models.

Role models come into young people’s lives in a variety of ways. They are educators, civic leaders, mothers, fathers, clergy, peers, and ordinary people encountered in everyday life. This study showed that being a role model is not constrained to those with fancy titles or personal wealth.  In fact, students were quick to state that “a true role model is not the person with the best job title, the most responsibility, or the greatest fame to his or her name.” Anyone can inspire a child to achieve their potential in life.

According to Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchell in a study she conducted with a group of students the greatest attribute of a role model is the ability to inspire others.Role models show passion for their work and have the capacity to infect others with their passion.

Role models live their values in the world. Young people admire people who act in ways that support their beliefs.  It helps them understand how their own values are part of who they are and how they might seek fulfilling roles as adults.

Role models are people-focused as opposed to self-focused. They are usually active in their communities, freely giving of their time and talents to benefit people. Persons admire people who served on local boards, reached out to neighbours in need and were active members of community organizations.

Related to the idea that role models show a commitment to their communities, young people also admired people for their selflessness and acceptance of others who were different from them.

As Booker T. Washington once said, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which one has overcome.” Young people echoed this sentiment, showing how they developed the skills and abilities of initiative when they learned to overcome obstacles.  Not surprisingly, they admire people who show them that success is possible.

Can you identify any role models in your life? Have a great weekend ya’ll and God bless.


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