I have loads of role models. Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela, Woody Allen, Oprah, Christopher Nolan, Komla Dumor.
Their stories inspire me. Whether it’s their triumph over adversity, or how they saw opportunities where others didn’t, these individuals have set stunning examples with their lives, and I always feel that the more I stay connected to them and their stories, the more I can understand the secrets to their success.
So I read about them, watch documentaries, experience their work, and try to apply their philosophies to my own life.
Now, I’m sure you also have your role models. You must enjoy watching and listening to them, reading about them, and wishing you could meet them. And whenever you’re in a tight spot, and can’t figure out what to do, I bet you ask yourself, “what would my role model do? I’d bet they would know exactly how to solve this problem”.
Yes, we clothe our role models with great power. To us, they are superhuman beings who can do no wrong. That’s the whole idea of a role model. They model the best of behaviour and human qualities.
Now, here’s a thought: Whose role model are YOU? Who looks up to you? Who thinks you are superhuman? Nobody? Think again. The fact is that no matter who you are, no matter what you do, there is someone somewhere who admires you. It may be the security guard at work who thinks your dress sense is impeccable, it may be your young cousin in the village who thinks you’re the smartest member of the family, living the good life in the big city, it may be your children, who are amazed at how you have an answer for every single question, and can’t believe how easily you reach for things from the top shelf in the cupboard – a feat they could never achieve in their wildest dreams. The point is, no matter who you are or what you do, chances are, you are somebody’s role model.
Here’s the thing though: now that you’re a role model, you can’t take this job lightly o! People are looking up to you. To them, you are a symbol of what they could become if they work hard, stay focused and eat all their vegetables. We talked about how being a role model is about model behaviour. Well, it is also a role. A role which you can NEVER STOP PLAYING!
Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela and Komla Dumor were all ordinary people who did extraordinary things, but in addition to the extraordinary things they did, they must also have done loads of ordinary things, and made lots of ordinary mistakes. They must have left the toilet seat up sometimes, they must have picked their noses and passed wind in church a few times in their lives, but they never did these things in the public domain. I certainly never saw them do these things, and thank goodness for that, because if I had, it would have punctured the perfect image I have of them. I would have found it difficult to aspire to be like them if I discovered they were just like me.
So whoever you are, whatever you do, NEVER FORGET that somebody somewhere is watching you playing the role of a model human being. You owe it to them to be the best possible version of yourself at all times. You cannot afford to puncture that perfect picture they have of you. You really can’t, because you may well be the only reason why someone somewhere is working hard to better themselves.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and I know you’re watching, so I won’t let you down.