Just about everyone knows that good role models are important for a child’s development, but even as adults, we can always use a good role model.
Now, if you are familiar with the work of The Pacific Institute, you know that it emphasizes visualization, because we have learned that our mental images, for the most part, are what determine our reality. In other words, the way we see ourselves and the world is what decides how we will behave. How we behave determines, to a very great extent, what will happen to us. Role models serve as living, breathing mental images that help us visualize the way we’d like to live.
What kinds of role models are best? No question about it, people we can actually get to know. For the young, this is often their parents. According to novelist and playwright James Baldwin, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” Wise words, and potentially intimidating to those of us who are adults and parents with young children in our lives. Our children will learn far more from what we do, than from what we say.
And, while it’s helpful to read about an admirable person in a book or magazine, watch an inspiring life story in the movies, or watch successful people on TV, it is much more powerful when we can actually interact with someone who shows us possibilities for ourselves. “I think a role model is a mentor – someone you see on a daily basis, and you learn from them,” confirms Denzel Washington, actor and mentor himself.
When we can connect with our mentors or role models on a daily or regular basis, as we do with parents, grandparents, teachers and so on, this does have the most powerful impact of all. When we meet the challenge of finding positive, contributive role models – people who care about our futures as much as we do – we will find ourselves on a smoother road to success.