by Monica A. Ross, LPC
Know who their role models are. Resilient people look to an aunt, a teacher, a boss, a fictional character, or historical figure who have served in some way as their role models. I was reflecting on this a bit today.
Who are my role models?
I think of family members who have struggled in life with financial loss or grief and who have completely bounced back. They are role models to me.
I think of people who have faced tragedy be that the loss of physical ability, or environmental, emotional, physical, sexual trauma who go on to overcome obstacles and achieve really great things in life. Take this gentleman for instance—Nic Vujicic. He was born with no arms and no legs and he is now a motivational speaker with a great message about coming back from darkness.
I think of my clients and the strength and courage that they have displayed in their individual lives. It takes courage to want to address unhealthy patterns in behavior. So many people attempt to reach out to a professional for help and because our healthcare system is such as it is with confusion and missed calls and unreturned voicemails, people give up.
Don’t give up. The professionals are out there; it’s a matter of finding the best fit. But truly we— they—do exist and do care and can help.
I’m thinking now of a coworker I had when I was working for the State of Texas. He always came into the office with an upbeat attitude and a smile on his face even though the work at times felt dry. He was able to express gratitude for even having a good job with the state with good benefits. In doing that, he brought others joy with his pleasant demeanor solving problems with customers over the phone.
I can think of another coworker at about that same time period, a supervisor, who gave everyone in the office encouragement. She frequently made us all laugh. So, role models I suppose, too, can be the everyday people we meet in our friendship and co-working circles. They are the people who at first glance we might not think of when drumming up examples of role models. They are simply our peers, but they too make a difference.
To me role models are also people who have gone before us sometimes and achieved that thing that we want to achieve and accomplish as well—they got through the schooling, they climbed the bureaucratic ladder, they published the book, and/or they took tragedy in some way and transformed it into triumph.
They beat the odds. They displayed courage. They demonstrated persistence and endurance. They finished the race.
My role models have a healthy sense of humor. They are at times able to let go of being overly analytical and simply practice being. They have a way of accepting circumstance while at the same time showing up and pushing forward and striving to do and be better.
Here are some other things I’ve found in role models:
Good listening skills
Love of knowledge
The ability to take risks
Openness and authenticity
Role models do not accuse or blame or lay fault on someone else without first trying to have a clear understanding of their part in an argument—they accept accountability. They know how to say they’re sorry not from the belief necessarily of wrongdoing or malintent on their part, but apologizing in order to acknowledge that another has been hurt by their actions. They seek first to understand, to borrow from Stephen Covey’s work.
Role models know when to seek help with they need it and have the ability to accept help when offered. As I’m listing all of these qualities I know to be true of my role models, I’m thinking too of where I need work on becoming a better role model myself and where I sometimes fall short of the goal.
Role models have the ability to develop awareness and gain perspective on the issues at hand and at the same time use both past and current knowledge to forecast, plan, and set an intent for the future. Role models have the ability to display transparency.
They are great communicators even when what they have to say may be hard to hear. They do their best to be honest and loyal even when others are mistrustful of their actions. And they praise other’s successes instead of harboring resentment.
Role models have the ability to keep their senses about them when others panic. They take refuge and faith in themselves and their ability to tolerate distress. Here’s a great clip from Oprah on that topic. Leaders have patience.
They have a fine-tuned knowledge of when to talk and when to honor the silence. They display humility. They are hardworkers. They have the ability to see through labels, symbols of wealth or status, markers of success, but also indicators of defeat or depravity. They are able to see through to the essence of the person before them, which I believe to be—at base—as always having the capacity to do good.
Just some random thoughts today to get back into the swing of posting on this topic and invite some resiliency to come my way. It’s important that resilient people go on in some sense to become role models for others because those of us struggling need the inspiration and part of that inspiration comes in knowing that those before us have overcome adversity.