Having a person to look up to, to learn from and to have as a role model could be considered one of our fundamental needs, but sadly not everyone has a person like this in their lives. I had a lot of trouble with role models as a kid. So I developed fictional role models who would be 100 percent perfect, completely flawless.
Of course, they would be perfection personified - successful, rich, loving and beautiful. That concept faded away as I got old enough to understand reality, but it was a dream that kept me going as a kid. And it helped me realize that role models serve a powerful purpose and there is nothing wrong with them being fictional people.
Many of us relate very deeply to characters in movies, and we like to think that we share similar traits to the actor or, more importantly, to the role they play.
We need, to understand that they are fictional people, who are able to do things that real people cannot, but I'm talking more about identifying with their moral code, their values in helping others and doing right from wrong. When it comes to doing business, this can be helpful to motivate us to keep pushing forward or to do the right thing when it would be easy not to. Hence the fascination that the world has with people like Richard Branson.
Picking Hannibal Lecter as your role model is not particularly healthy, but choosing Captain Kirk from Star Trek may be. I am particularly drawn to the movie. It's a Wonderful Life. It is the story of a good man whose dreams are shattered by his sense of duty to his family. Along the way, he starts to feel that his life is useless and in despair, he plans to commit suicide only to be saved by his guardian angel, Clarence.
George Bailey decided to abandon his dreams and to serve his family and the people of Bedford Falls by taking over the reigns of the community bank. He was an honorable, loyal and committed man, qualities that I value very much and I certainly aspire to. In the end, George realized, how important his life was, the positive impact he had on others and just how lucky he was.
How nice to realize this stuff! There are times in our lives when we are lost and seek some direction, but none is forthcoming. How do we make a life-changing decision? Or how should I act like a human being? Some people just seem to know what to do, but others don't. By having someone to look up to, you can ask yourself, 'What would they do?'
We need our role models for a specific purpose, which is to give us someone whom we can relate to and admire, someone to look up to with respect and someone to hold us to a higher standard. We need to be able to say "what would they do in this situation?".
And remember, sometimes role models may make mistakes, they are rarely perfect (well never perfect). Does that mean they are bad people? No, it just means they are human.
Who is your ideal role model? Can you look to them for advice whenever you need it and because you know them so well you already know what they will say?