If you had a role model growing up, raise your hand. If that role model helped you to achieve in any way, keep your hand raised but if not, put it back down. I’m going to assume for most of you that your hand is no longer up. Why is that?
First, let’s look at the meaning of the title ‘role model’. It means A person who serves as an example of the values, attitudes, and behaviours associated with a role. The keywords I want to bring forth are ‘values, attitudes and behaviours‘. The majority of our role models in society are manufactured celebrities designed with the intent to sell their brand. They look good, so we idolise them and copy them in order to make ourselves ‘look good’ but what values do they carry? What are they teaching us to think about ourselves and about others?
What we have created is a society of insecure individuals who are striving to fit a mould of what makes us attractive or popular. Our ‘role models’ begin from a young age and are heavily marketed to us on a daily basis. Basically, we’re taught to follow trends and to compare ourselves and our self-worth against those who are popular.
Imagine if we took the celebrity role models and replaced them with youth in tech, aspirational teen inventors or mindful future leaders. What difference would we see in our youth or in ourselves? Would there be a shift in mental health? Would there be a leap in self-development or self-confidence?
If we analysed the three keywords – values, attitudes, and behaviours and used them as a benchmark before making a decision on who and what should be marketed and praised, we would build a completely different world and even if we take it to a practical level, it would be more of a boost to our economy and less of a threat to our environment. How? Swapping the consumer for the builder. The taker for the giver and the doubt for the belief.
It all starts with you. Whether you’re parents at home or just a friend wanting to guide others. Some of our most important role models are those closest to us. As parents or friends, we need to teach others about respect for one another by respecting ourselves and those around us. Find your core values, and carry them through your attitudes and behaviours.
Don’t fall off the path to follow a crowd because you’ll lose yourself and end up dissatisfied. Be your own role model and be the change.