Hope you don’t have a Rolled Model?

We all have role models? Well, at least most of us do. And can we ever admire them enough?

While it’s great if you have idols or role models, something I suggest to friends and acquaintances is that you should not be amazed by your role models. Instead, find out what it is about them that amazes you and earns your respect and admiration. Identify those specific characteristics in them, instead. We  don’t need ‘rolled’ [all-inclusive] models.

Why we admire someone could be something as lame as for their looks or acting skills. It could be their perseverance, or selflessness, truthfulness or their ice cold negotiation skills or the ability to win consistently. But whatever it is, instead of just staring with dropped jaws at a poster of your role model, sit and think about “why” you admire about them.

I’ll safely assume that your role model is human. That said, we all have our flaws; even our larger-than-life role models most probably do (perhaps with the exception of Mother Teresa). And therein lies the problem. People are a sum of their different characteristics, habits, behavior traits, etc. And some of those are excellent, some horrible.

So, whenever we admire a person, it is usually for one or more good traits they have. But since the selection happens on a slightly unconscious level, we tend to admire the person in their entirety, often accepting their negative or less desirable traits as part of the acceptable.  You’ll probably agree if you thought about the last time you argued with someone about why a public figure is liked, admired or hated so much. Blind admiration could cause us to unconsciously inculcate negative traits too; after all, our role models are just so great.

If we admire people specifically for certain characteristics they possess, we identify directly with those qualities in them; qualities that we perhaps desire to have. That, then lets us allow ourselves to be inspired and shaped by specifically those characteristics. 

While I was growing up, many of us dreamed to be like the classy and flamboyant Vijay Mallya. But after he denied his airline employees their salary for months on end, he suddenly didn’t seem so respectable. Tiger Woods will probably never get the admiration he once enjoyed, even if he were to play better than he ever has. Lance Armstrong is a classic example too.

Tip: Whoever your role model, also make a mental note of what skills or character traits make them your role model.

‘Details’ don’t complicate things. Instead, they provide a simpler view of how and why things are. Don’t avoid details, go look for them.

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2 thoughts on “Hope you don’t have a Rolled Model?

  1. THE ROLE OF A ROLE MODEL

    What Role does a Role Model play. Is he /she a motivator, a counselor or just someone who could be a reflection of what one would like to be. Then having decided that one has found one’s Role Model, is it at all necessary to analyse what it is that one found or had empathy with, in the one who was conferred the title of Role Model. Should it not suffice that there was some quality or trait that one considered worthy. And does it matter at all if your Role Model at a later stage, falls from grace, of from the pedestal you have placed him/her on. Does a Role Model necessarily have to be lifelong. Yes one can have a lifelong Role Model, nothing precludes it. But, according to me, it is at that specific moment in life when one picks on, needs or requires that ONE person who in some manner satisfies the questions one is seeking.
    In the young days, it could be a teacher, who fires one’s imagination. Then this may be replaced by another teacher in college. It does not mean that the first has become redundant, but needs have changed. In later life, it could be a woman (as a male) who becomes a Role Model for what one’s life partner could be. So what if she is totally different to what one had envisaged.
    The problem I feels lies in trying to determine the quality/trait that made them Role Models. In the pursuit of analyses it should not happen that one discovers several factors that make one doubt the role of the Role Model one has selected. Should it over shadow all the benefits one gained by accepting the Role Model. In a limited sense, perhaps it helps. But again taking the example of Vijay Mallya. Should one be disheartened by what came to be in later years. We must realize that they are also humans, with their own follies and limitations. One can perhaps, with hind sight say Gandhiji, or perhaps J. R D Tata would be an ideal Role Model. But one should not be disheartened by any quirks they may have had.
    I guess in the end “To each his own”

    1. A brilliant explanation and counter argument, buddy. You are absolutely right when you say that one should not be disheartened by quirks our role models might have.

      Growing up, we sometimes tend to take our role models as a complete package. Say we admire someone for their acting (an actor), if they smoke, suddenly smoking doesn’t seem as bad. That’s where the problem happens. We hate office politics, but if we someday find out that playing one employee against another is what got your role model to the top, we start wondering if it actually works. That’s where the problem is.

      But if we can explicitly list or at least make a quick mental note of what we like about them, instead of just being ‘wowed’ by them in their entirety, then maybe we will give ourselves a moment to pause and decide if a particular questionable trait in them is ok or not. It doesn’t mean we disrespect them or do not have them as role models anymore, but instead, it is more about our senses admiring and perhaps imbibing the good traits in that person, and leaving out the bad.

      Let’s take Vijay Mallya for example. Rich, brilliant businessman, classy taste, etc. etc. Then you have an unpaid employee’s spouse committing suicide because salaries hadn’t been paid in about 8 months, and you know that Mallya still has assets to sell, and that he’s more concerned about making it to the F1 race at the Buddh Circuit instead. that’s when a horrible character defect emerges. So you may continue to admire Mallya for his expensive tastes, acquisitions maybe, but shouldn’t for the way he treats his employees or his overall manner in conducting business.

      In a similar incident, Richard Branson of the Virgin Group wept after the board meeting where they decided to sell his records business to keep his airline afloat, the records business being his first venture. He also decided he’d buy it back someday. That showed how business was more than just money for Branson.

      People may stay completely awesome through their life or they may change drastically. What I try to impress upon people is, that we should know why we admire the people we admire, so you can also sub-consciously appraise or audit them from time to time, to ensure they deserve to continue getting our admiration.

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