Role models are people we look up to. They serve as an example of how to accomplish something.
While it’s incredibly useful – and often inspiring – to study their success, we too often try to be them rather than learn from them.
The word model can mean two different things in the context of the phrase “role model”:
- A simplified representation of reality, as in “business model” or “climate model”
- An ideal or perfect specimen, as in “model citizen”
More often than not, role models belong in the first category. Their experience, success, and stories are rich with information we can use to apply to our own lives. But it’s never the full story. Things are left out. And a role model is just one of many people who have accomplished great things.
It’s tempting to elevate role models to the level of the ideal. Who wouldn’t want a blueprint for the exact life they desire? And yet it can never be the same for you as it is for them, and it’s never perfect.
It’s our job to collect information and build our own reality, and eventually become our own role models.
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