Each November, people across the United States recognize and celebrate National Inspirational Role Models Month. This is a month to appreciate the people in our lives who set positive examples we aspire to emulate. Role models perform a vital function: through their character, accomplishments, and behavior, they show us what’s possible in life.
Although we can have role models at any age, role models are particularly important for teenagers. Teenagers are at that critical turning point in life when they form an identity that’s separate from their parents, and often different from the various identities they inhabit during their childhood years.
That’s not to say parents can’t be role models. They’re often role models. And very successful people from all walks of life often cite their parents as their first and most influential role models. That goes for successful people from all walks of life: rockstars, pro athletes, actors, politicians – whatever their chosen field of accomplishment, it’s common to hear these larger than life icons say something like:
“I learned everything I know from my mom, who showed me the value of hard work, decency, respect, and kindness.”
That means that if you’re a parent, you always need to remember that your kids are watching and learning from you. What you do affects them today, tomorrow, and has the potential to shape the course of their lives.
No pressure – not at all.
We’ll tell you in a moment how you can be a role model, if you don’t feel like one already.
First, we’ll talk about how you can recognize your role model this month.
How to Recognize and Celebrate Your Role Model
If your role model is someone famous, your job is easy: send them fan mail, like their social media pages and posts, revel in watching or enjoying whatever it is they excel at, or immerse yourself in the subject or area they inspire you to pursue.
If your role model is someone closer to you – meaning someone from your everyday life – then your job is also easy. But it may be embarrassing, because you have to recognize and celebrate them in person. That’s right: for maximum value, you have to do this face-to-face.
Here’s what to do:
- Find your role model.
- Tell them they’re your role model.
- Tell them why they’re your role model.
- Explain how they’ve impacted, changed, or helped you and your life.
- Thank them for being the awesome, amazing, all-around stellar person they are.
Those are your five simple steps. Now, once you finish doing that, we want you to take another step. We want you to think carefully about who your true role models are.
Are they really rockstars, film actors, or other world-famous celebrities?
Or are they teachers, coaches, and other examples of humble, stalwart, friendly, helpful members of your community?
Think about that while you read the next section of this blog post.
How You Can Be a Role Model
The short version takes only two words:
Every human contains the strength and power to inspire others. And the source of that inspiration is the unique flavor you bring to the world. You – not anyone else. Your personality, your character, and your individual style are what makes you, you – and what inspires others to be their best selves, too.
In addition to being yourself, there are other things you can do to be a positive role model for people in your community.
Here are five things you can do every day to inspire others:
1. Be Humble
Never brag, boast, trumpet your own accomplishments or sing your own praises. If you do something laudable, it will speak for itself: you don’t need to say a word about it.
2. Be Honest
It’s not always easy to tell the truth, but it’s an important quality to develop and embody. People will remember and appreciate you for being honest and straightforward – and it will inspire them to be the same.
3. Be Kind
This is akin to the famous adage “People may not remember what you do or say, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.” It takes no extra effort to be kind to people, so practice kindness everywhere with everyone. From your immediate family, to your friends and acquaintances, to people you meet for the first time – try being kind.
4. Be Consistent
Do your best to do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. This includes being on time to things like work, school, and family events, to working hard at whatever task you do.
4. Help Others
Whenever possible, help people who need help. Help an old man cross the street or help your mom out at home. Help your friends with their homework or help a teammate with their sports skills. Or find a worthy cause and donate your time as a volunteer. When you learn to serve others, you inspire people around you to do the same. That positivity will pass from person to person – and your simple action of helping others may reverberate around the world.
If you do your best to do those five things every day, then we guarantee you’ll be an inspirational role model to someone in your life. You don’t have to be famous and you don’t have to have lots of money. You don’t have to be wildly successful in your career, or be a social butterfly, or super-funny, uber-talented, or any of those things.
Be yourself – and do those five things to the best of your ability every day – and you’ll change someone’s life for the better.
Angus is a writer from Atlanta, GA who writes about behavioral health, adolescent development, education, and mindfulness practices like yoga, tai chi, and meditation.