Positive role models aren’t just for kids. Everyone needs someone to look up to and November, National Inspirational Role Models Month, is the perfect time to pick one or more. Historical figures are often admired and looked up to as role models. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Harriet Tubman, and Mother Teresa are just a few examples, but a role models don’t have to be people renown for their activism. People tend to look up to role models for a wide range of reasons. People who triumphed over difficult circumstances (such as years of abuse and poverty) or challenged stereotypes (such as the traditional roles of women) make for good role models as well.
Whether it’s a celebrity, family member, teacher, sibling, or boss, having a role model is great for a person’s wellbeing, especially younger people. For instance, in a 2008 study researchers found that positive role models had a “protective [effect] on externalizing and internalizing behaviors,” as well as a “compensatory [effect] on school outcomes.” Role models had a positive impact on the children even if they were exposed to negative “nonparental adult influences.”
Listed below are a few tips that can help you pick the perfect inspirational figure.
- Choose carefully. No one is perfect. For every achievement, a noteworthy person has they will also have faults. Your role model doesn’t necessarily need to be squeaky clean—everyone makes mistakes. Instead, choose your inspirational figure based on the unique qualities that you hope to cultivate in yourself. Gumption, composure, and passion are just some of the admirable qualities that make for a good role model.
- Have a variety of role models. Role models are needed for every aspect of life. So, consider having multiple role models. A role model for parenthood, a superstar example for your favorite hobby, and a positive mentor for your career is just a start. Do some research and start making a list.
- Study them. Want to be like your role model? Study them. Read autobiographies, personal diaries, interviews, and articles about them. Is your role model someone you know personally? Talk to them. Ask them if they would like to be your mentor. You’ll learn so much from them and you can both grow from the experience.