“What is a role model?” I asked my 15 year old son. He answered, “Someone who influences you in any way. There are positive ones and negative ones. Someone to guide you toward what they think is right.”
My favorite thing about his answer is that there can be positive and negative role models. Children very young learn through observation, engagement, and mimicking what they see and hear. As they grow, people still will look towards others for cues on how to behave, react, and respond.
We are all role models. In-person and online through social media, impressionable individuals are watching for social cues. The foundation of a role model is when an individual - younger than you, the same age as you or older than you - is influenced by the behavior that they see you exhibiting. This is why it is so important that we lead by example.
Implementing the behavior that we, as responsible people, want others to achieve is a wonderful way to engage with them while showing that this behavior is attainable. Here are seven ways you can be a better role model:
Hard Work - Effective role models work hard and jump in when others need help. There is no task that is below you and you do your best in every situation.
Trust - Trust is earned. Treat others fairly, honestly, and consistently. Don’t engage in gossip. Ensure people can be honest with you, and that you have their back. Take every opportunity you have to prove it.
Accountability - Role models take responsibility for their actions and inspire others to do the same. If you make a mistake, admit it and let others know you have a plan to correct what was wrong. NEVER blame others or make excuses.
Respect - Always show respect for all individuals. Respect is the most important in every situation. Never criticize someone in public, and make sure your feedback is empowering others and not humiliating or shaming someone.
Positivity - It is easy to look at situations around us and react negatively. Whether it’s complaining or engaging in a heated discussion, it is always important to find the silver lining. Positivity is just as contagious as negativity.
Persistence - Steady persistence in the face of obstacles or difficulties means others can count on you in tough times. Don’t abandon tasks when things get rough, approach them with urgency, and get it done.
Integrity - Don’t expect more from others than you are willing to do yourself. Be on time, be productive, and follow the same morals and expectations you would have for yourself.
During today’s unparalleled times, our children, friends, family, and neighbors are needing positivity more than ever! If we as individuals, make a point to share positive information at least once a day, others will see that and know that we can make a choice to have a positive outlook during some of the dark times as a society.
Remember as you go into the grocery store, get gas, make a Facebook post, make an Instagram post or Tweet an opinion THINK. THINK: Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind? If the answers to all these questions are Yes for the better of yourself and others. Then you, my friend, are making the steps towards being a positive role model for the impressionable individuals in your community.
I will leave you with a quote from Jesse McCarthy about one of my all-time favorite role models: Mr. Rogers, “Despite the loudness and bickering, even in his own time, he consistently chose to stay above and beyond the noise. And it worked.”