In his autobiography, Bill Gates identifies Warren Buffet as his role model, and identifies three key points about choosing a suitable role model:
But for most of us (including me), identifying and sticking with a single role model is likely a misnomer. As life changes, so do our needs, and I believe that a person’s role model differs at various points in one’s life, depending largely on context.
It is like the process of evolution really. Early in my career, I aspired to be my supervisor at work. He was my role model. I wanted to have everything he had, I looked up to him, respected him, and thought that one day I would find fulfillment in becoming who he was. That inspired me to work harder and achieving more.
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A good role model is someone that a person can look up to, a person that makes you want to be the best version of yourself, make you more productive, and inspire you. At that point in my life, my supervisor assumed that role.
With time I saw my role models changed because my needs changed. As I grew older, I channeled all my energy into work, and achieving more left me wanting more out of life. My new role models were people who recognized those needs, something that my heart desired, and gave me direction. At this stage in my life my role model also served as my mentor, as he guided me through a new phase in my life.
But, I am not sure that it is possible to have a single role model for achieving our ultimate goals as complex human beings. Greatness is subjective, and again depends on what a person aspires to be. I think there will always be several people in a person’s life that serve as a role model at different points.
As I found meditation, and achieved a plane of success, my idea of a role model has changed yet again. Today, I feel a sense of fulfillment, both in my career and in my personal life, and I don’t credit one single person as my role model. Of course, it is human nature to change, and how I feel today might change tomorrow. Needs evolve, time passes, people grow up and grow out of situations and relationships. It is important to see where life takes you.
I believe that we all have our paths in life, big and small. We need to experience them and learn from them. So maybe the idea of a role model then becomes an appendage we don’t need, even as we learn our greatest strength, aspirations and motivations all lie in ourselves. So perhaps, shouldn’t we all just navigate our lives, dream, and learn from the mistakes we make?
Borrowing from the wisdom of others, from their lived experiences is wonderful. After all, why reinvent the wheel? But instead of looking to someone else to provide for what we should be and aspire to, I’ve come to a point in my life where I want to be the best version of who I can be, and contribute what I can to society, so we can succeed as a community.