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Models and Mentors

I would not be where I am in life without the examples and assistance of others. And I’m willing to bet that the same is true for you. We all benefit every day from our predecessors, teachers, advocates, and encouragers. In turn, we can uplift others through our words and deeds.

Role models and mentors are essential to your growth and success. We all have them. Some we choose directly and with forethought. Others, we are drawn to and begin to emulate without a conscious decision. They simply become part of the seasoning of our characters. Regardless, over time you will become like the people you associate and identify with on a regular basis.

That’s why I believe that selecting models and mentors should be a conscious choice. Be intentional and deliberate about the people you admire and aspire to “be like.” Be bold! Choose the people you most admire. Allow the brightest and best examples of humanity to bring out the best in you!

In whos footsteps will you follow?

In who’s footsteps will you follow?

Role Models

You don’t need someone’s permission to make that person a role model. Heck. You don’t even need to know them! You can choose anyone, from any period in history, from any country, state, or walk of life! The other great thing about role models is that you can pick and choose the qualities you wish to adopt. Select the best aspects without the flaws (we all have them).

Learn all you can about your role models. Study their lives, routines, habits, words, and thought processes. Then ask, “how can I make those qualities my own?” You shouldn’t strive to become a carbon copy of someone else. That would be false, unsuccessful and boring. Instead, allow the best aspects of those you admire to stimulate and influence your original choices about how you will spend your time, invest your thought, and take action.


A mentor relationship is far more personal than a role model. This is an individual you engage directly. Again, it is someone you admire for a specific reason (or several). The relationship you seek is more structured, and it requires agreement by both parties: Your mentor agrees to assist you in achieving a specific skill or result. You agree to follow the instructions and implement what you learn.

This relationship is about accountability, trust, and action. If you are unwilling to follow the plan your mentor outlines and suggests, then you are wasting your time and theirs. You will likely be pushed into areas that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable. That’s the point! Sometimes it takes a commitment to a mentor (one that we respect and admire) to change our willingness to accept difficult tests. The aid of a mentor can help us achieve breakthroughs that would have taken much longer (or not been possible) on our own.

Across the Five Spheres

Choose a different role model for each of the five spheres of life (I introduce and discuss the five spheres more thoroughly in my book, Off Balance On Purpose). They are:

Read a free sample of Off Balance On Purpose

Read a free sample of Off Balance On Purpose

Work – Who do you wish to model professionally?

Relationships – Who enjoys and embodies the types of relationships you seek?

Health – Who is, for you, the model of health and wellness?

Spiritual Growth – Who can serve as a model for your spiritual development?

Personal Interests – Who represents “the best” in your hobbies and areas of interest?

Into Action

  1. Write down the names of the individuals who you wish to model in each of the five life areas. There may be more than one in each category. Identify the character traits, skills, principles, disciplines, or other qualities that you most admire about that person.
  2. Select one person and one character trait you wish to make your own. Then begin to adopt it into your life.
  3. Carefully select a mentor in a specific area to help you with a well-defined goal or objective. Ask that person if they would be able to serve as a mentor to you. If the answer is “yes,” outline a process that respects his or her time and places the primary burden of effort where it belongs . . . on you!
  4. Become willing to be a role model and mentor for others. What qualities, talents, and abilities do you possess that others desire and need? Every day, in all your encounters, strive to let your best traits shine, providing a positive model.

No matter how challenging the circumstances and journey you presently face, someone else has walked a similar path. You need a guide. You need a model or mentor to light the way, inspire your efforts, and provide encouragement.

Place yourself in the company of greatness, and you will also become great!

Keep leaning forward,


  • Chris Young says:

    Good advice on role models and mentors. They are the ones we get to choose.
    Somewhat different than what you speak of, I find my best teachers are the ones seemingly chosen for me without my say so. Whenever I pray for guidance, the answer more often than not, comes directly from someone I would never have sought out or even listened to before. Often, people I may not even care for are saying or showing exactly what I needed to hear – as if God purposely chose them to respond to my prayer. Go figure.
    There is a great Eastern saying, “the next Bodhisattva you meet may be driving the bus.” The two most positive life changing things ever said to me were from relative strangers, in passing.

  • Wanda Kiser says:

    My Mother and Father have served as excellent role models for me, and I’m also thankful for numerous educators, leaders, and ministers who have also influenced me towards becoming my personal best.

    Whenever I begin a new project or move in a new direction, I investigate to see if someone has already mastered the task or direction at hand. After discovering industry leaders in a particular area, I become a student. I glean successful tips and learn from their mistakes. Why waste precious time trying to reinvent the wheel when best practices have already been established? Yes, I pattern myself after successful people (role models). Of course, I personalize things for myself, so as not to become a carbon copy. However, if proven techniques are already in place, I adopt and incorporate them as my own and move forward with completion of my project. That’s called modeling.

    As a Career Coach, I believe in the power of mentoring. Many people need guidance, direction, and accountability to maximize potential. Without leadership, they remain stagnant, stuck, and unproductive. Only a select few are motivated and driven enough to keep moving forward when obstacles appear. With that said, I am of the opinion that we all accomplish more when we have an accountability partner, role model, mentor, or coach.

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