I have four role models. These are people I have known and watched forever. One of my friends calls them “angels”. I won’t name them by name here, but they know who they are.
A few years ago, there was a TV commercial about role models. In that commercial, a famous athlete came on screen and said “I am not a role model”. He was incorrect. You don’t choose to be a role model. You are chosen to be a role model. And sometimes you don’t know that you’ve been chosen.
My role models have several things in common:
1) They have all been married to their original spouses, all the days of their lives. One of my role models has been married for 60 years, so far. My role models are all happily married, too. I know because I know their spouses. Their spouses are crazy about them, and would marry them again in a minute.
2) With their spouses, they are great parents. They provide their children with even better lives than they have had. They provide their children every possible opportunity in education, culture, athletics, arts….and they do it with great love.
3) They all work for a living- and they make it look really attractive. They don’t complain about it- they view it as a privilege. (A quick story- one of my role models is 86 years old. He still works for a living. He does my taxes. Whenever I ask him when he is going to retire, he replies “Retire?! Why would I do that? I love what I’m doing!” ) These 4 people never ever call out sick. Why is that? I think it because they love what they are doing . No matter what it is that they are doing, they do it with great love. They have great passion about their lives, and what they are doing with their lives.
4) None of them complain. Maybe that is because they love what they are doing?
5) A subtle trait- they are all great listeners. Whenever I speak with any of them, I notice that they give me their undivided attention. And they do that for everyone that they speak to. They make other people feel really important- and it is genuine. I know that they do that for everyone that they speak to. They aren’t looking at their smart phones, or watching TV. They don’t have headphones in their ears. They make time to speak with me, with total attention. And they do that for everyone.
6) They all give back to their communities. They do so in different ways (charitable foundations, coaching, mentoring programs, volunteering) and they do it with a great sense of purpose.
7) They show up when they say they are going to show up. They RSVP, too. For everything. For weddings, funerals, baptisms and Bar Mitzvahs. For dinner, and for coffee. For dates. For everything that they say they are going to show up for.
8) They all have an insatiable curiosity. They read a lot. They travel a lot. And they ask a lot of questions. They love to learn.
9) Interesting thing- they all love to eat. They eat with a passion. When food comes, they light up. Food isn’t just something that they eat- food is life for them. Meals get loud when they are around. Loud with laughter, and stories, and a lot of fun.
10) This is important-maybe most important- they have the highest integrity. I can’t stress this enough. They always (always!) do the right thing, regardless of the consequences to themselves. They do what they say they are going to do.
How do I know all of this? I watch them. I don’t ask them- I watch them very carefully. I watch what they do, not what they say.
Why do I write this? What is the point?
My role models lead very attractive lives. Each one of them has a life that looks like the kind of life that I want to live.
I like to say “when I grow up….”. When I grow up, I want to lead a life that looks like the kind of life my roles models lead. They live rich and rewarding lives. Lives that matter to them, and to those around them as well. They live purposeful lives. I have been blessed to know each one of them.
When I grow up, I want to be a great husband. And a great father. A great son, and a great brother. And a great employee. I want people to feel that they were lucky to know me. I want to be a great role model for someone else someday.
That day is today.