Learn from bad role models

rolemodel3Role models provide an effective shortcut to learning. Find someone who is succeeding at what you want to do or who you want to be, study her, and copy her actions.

You can also learn from bad role models. Find someone who is failing at what you want to do or who you want to be, study him, and avoid the undesirable traits.

For instance:

  • Recently, I read a book that was poorly written. I was frustrated trying to make sense of the author’s sequence of thoughts (or lack of). I analyzed what it was that made his writing disjointed, and now I want to eliminate those characteristics from my writing.
  • I observed a leader who is autocratic, egocentric, and draconian. I don’t want to be like that.
  • I was annoyed by someone who talked too much. Do I do that? (Probably not; my wife calls me the king of brevity.)
  • I have an acquaintance who is reliably late to all our appointments. That bothers me and prompts me to analyze myself: Am I ever tardy?
  • I studied under a professor who was intentionally intimidating. I found it very unappealing.

Young people are particularly susceptible to the influence of role models so, parents and teachers, teach them the value of identifying both positive role models and anti-role models; train them to be selective in whom they idolize and emulate.

[reminder]What are your thoughts about this topic?[/reminder]

[callout]Recommended Article

Occasionally, I’ll include in a post, the link to an interesting article which addresses a different topic than the post.

Here’s a great article – Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person – written by Alain De Botton (May 29, 2016; New York Times).  He shares some good thoughts about why marriage is so difficult. My favorite sentence in the article is: “In a wiser, more self-aware society than our own, a standard question on any early dinner date would be, ‘And how are you crazy?'” Click here for the article.[/callout]