Being a Role Model: 10 Tips to Be Worth Emulating

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Author Name: Lucas Cook
Date: Thursday March 14, 2024

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Everybody grew up surrounded by role models. You also did — whether you realize it or not. As a child, you chose to imitate the individuals you find appealing based on your needs, preferences and aspirations. Having an idol is one thing, but being a role model is another. Do you set a worthy example to others?

What Makes a Positive Role Model?

A positive role model inspires others to live meaningful, productive lives. If you want to be one, you should have commendable values and behave in a way that drives your admirers to be forces for good.

What Is a Negative Role Model?

A negative role model is someone with lousy morals whose belief system breeds corruption, malice and gloom. This person is a bad apple that spoils the whole bunch.

What Are the Three Types of Role Models?

Three women standing and smiling together.

The three types of workplace role models are positive, reverse and anti-role models. Positive ones are successful individuals whose values match those of their observers. Reverse role models are like their positive counterparts, except others find their principles unacceptable. Anti-role models are underachievers who can teach others valuable lessons about what not to do to attain success.

You may become any of the above in the eyes of your peers. They decide what category you fall into, but you can strive to be a positive role model.

10 Tips for Being a Role Model Worth Emulating

Being a positive role model to children, your co-workers or anyone for that matter is challenging but achievable if you know how to act like one. Follow these pieces of advice to be a worthy example to anyone you wish to inspire.

1. Reflect on Yourself

High self-awareness is a hallmark of an excellent role model. You should be able to evaluate your thoughts and behaviors objectively, honestly identify your biases, strengths and weaknesses, and realize how you affect others.

Being highly self-aware is the key to self-mastery. You can only think critically about yourself, manage your emotions, and self-regulate if you know what makes you tick. The more authentic you are, the more positively influential you will be.

2. Focus on Solutions

Positivity is a core tenet of “positive role modelship.” Mind you — striving to be positive differs from being constantly optimistic about everything.

Exuding positive energy means devoting your resources to solving problems instead of dwelling on them. Finding solutions to help others and make the world a better place requires a healthy mix of being idealistic and pragmatic. Remember how things should be in a perfect world, but be a practical thinker when addressing issues.

You don’t need to have all the answers to be a laudable role model. Just hone a solution mindset to improve the circumstances and not point fingers and spread only negativity like a Debbie Downer.

3. Have Ambitions

Inspiring role models are goal-oriented, set attainable objectives, and develop the proper habits — like crafting a concrete plan and holding yourself accountable — to achieve them.

Being ambitious is different from never being content with life. Instead, having ambitions is wanting things to be better. It’s about accomplishing something you’re passionate about and putting forth effort to get there. That’s why ambitious people usually exhibit a strong work ethic, unwavering dedication and perseverance.

4. Make Healthy Choices

Watch your diet and exercise. Leading a health-conscious lifestyle can encourage others to care for their bodies and pursue fitness.

A woman doing yoga on the grass.

You don’t have to live in the gym and be shredded to become a picture of health. Take small steps — such as snacking on nuts and seeds and doing hot power yoga — to stay energized without consuming too many calories and build lean muscles.

5. Be Professional

Hold yourself to a higher standard to meet expectations and then some. Dress appropriately, take personal grooming seriously, and show up to appointments on time.

Moreover, walk the talk. Prove that your word is your bond to gain trust and establish a solid reputation for being reliable. People gravitate toward individuals they can count on, so deliver when you make a promise — even if there aren’t any severe consequences when you don’t.

6. Demonstrate Politeness

To be polite is to be considerate. It involves having good manners, observing social conventions, and expressing courtesy when dealing with others.

Politeness does more than make other people feel comfortable. It also can promote harmony. Situationally and dispositionally polite role models can be charismatic because they inspire cooperation, foster understanding, and mitigate conflict.

Ironically, some people get uptight when trying to be polite on specific occasions. If you feel this way, it may be due to rumination.

You may be repetitively thinking about your past negative feelings and experiences, affecting your behavior. Mindfully distance yourself from your undesirable thoughts and free your mind with healthy distractions — like walking or cooking — to break your rumination cycle. Only then can you behave appropriately in social settings without anxiety.

7. Embody Humility

Being a role model worthy of admiration means setting your ego aside, admitting when you don’t know something, and seeking help from others. Being open to reverse mentoring is a terrific way to boost the confidence of those junior to you and show you value their skills and opinions.

8. Practice Empathy

Compassion is an essential trait to teach others. The world will have fewer disagreements when more people can connect emotionally with each other.

Some are naturally compassionate, while it’s an acquired characteristic for others. To cultivate empathy and behave empathetically, you should actively listen, stay silent, and note non-verbal cues to ask the right questions when speaking with others. Allowing others to finish even when uncomfortable is another remarkable habit of empathetic role models.

9. Show Respect

Respectfulness is the opposite of bigotry. As a positive role model, you should acknowledge different people’s inherent worth and rights even when you don’t understand them.

A woman wearing colorful makeup.

Being respectful is particularly important in this day and age when individuality is more celebrated than ever.

10. Commit to Your Values

Living with integrity means never compromising what you believe in, regardless of the situation. Do what’s right for the right reasons — even when it’s inconvenient or unpopular. It’s how you can illustrate your moral values and authenticity to compel others to act based on their beliefs.

Be the Person You Want to Idolize

Being a role model worth emulating is a high-pressure endeavor when your faults make you feel underserving of admiration. Everyone’s fallible, so your flaws make you human and not anything less than others. If you feel unqualified to be anyone’s idol, work on yourself to measure up to higher standards because someone’s looking up to you.

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