With all that’s going on in today’s world, it’s crucial to take a deep breath, relax, and reflect upon what’s really important in life. I have discovered a tool in the course of my career that aids in this self-reflective process – a role model exercise. This exercise not only keeps you on the critical path toward your goals, but it also motivates you to become a better person.
Understanding the power role models play in our lives, and being able to proactively harness that power to become a better person and high achiever, is within the reach of every person who takes it seriously.
High achievement is a lofty goal, especially when you consider that my definition goes beyond status and money. A better and broader definition is: “An individual who has incorporated balance in his or her life; continuing to grow, achieve goals, live by the golden rule, and to add value to work, family, and the community.”
Sure, you likely recognize some of these traits in your role model, but I bet you also recognize some of these traits in yourself. Jeff Haden of Inc. recently wrote that, “Whom you choose to be inspired by — because it is a choice — often says more about you than about that person. We tend to admire certain people because we think we see something of ourselves in them. We like to think that what they do, and how they do it, reflects some (as yet) untapped aspect of ourselves.”
He makes a great point that we select role models based on our unique aspirations and values. It makes you think hard about “why” you admire a certain person and whether or not they’re a good selection. Let’s dig into this a bit deeper using the following four-part exercise.
Step 1 – Select a Role Model.
This can be an elite advisor, a family member, a prominent businessperson, or someone from history. Being a history buff, I have a number of role models I’ve used in this exercise, but the one I’ve used most frequently is Abraham Lincoln.
Step 2 – Identify the Qualities & Characteristics You Admire.
It’s best to take a notepad, write the name of your role model at the top, and then list all the qualities and characteristics that make this person special to you. Let me share a handful that I associate with Abraham Lincoln…
- Ability to overcome adversity, rejection, & defeat
- Outstanding public speaker
- Great storyteller
- Great sense of humor
- Goal-focused visionary
- Practical/Common sense
- Student of History
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea.
Step 3 – Label Each Quality an IQ (inner quality) or SQ (school quality).
Think of a school quality as something that was learned in a classroom or the result of being taught. Inner qualities are those acquired from life’s lessons, essentially self-taught.
What’s always fascinated me about this exercise is the discussion I have with advisors when they’ve completed Step 3. They’ve labeled the vast majority as IQs – usually over 90 percent. This is a great epiphany, as IQs are within your control.
Step 4 – Select Three Qualities/Characteristics to Improve.
It’s important in this step to not bite off more than you can chew. Adhere to the concept of chunking – we learn and develop best when we break things down into small chunks or baby steps. Learning experts claim that somewhere between 3 – 7 chunks is all we can handle, whether it’s a self-improvement plan or a simple to-do list. So start with 3 qualities on your list to improve and focus on those until you have them mastered. Then, move on to another 3, repeating the cycle as often as you need.
And there you have it. You can also review this exercise from time to time as it will bring it all back for you. Follow these simple steps and you’ll activate constructive role model power. Your bonus – you’ll feel great!