The glittering prizesNovember 01, 2011
I think a lot about role models - about being one and about learning from them. Nothing inspires me more than seeing a woman working true to her values, being thoughtful about what she wants her future to be and then doing the hard work to make that future happen. I never think of celebrities as role models. I am an ordinary woman so my role models are usually women doing what I do, but maybe in a different way, at a different stage in their life or making gains that I hadn't even thought of. When I find a role model, I celebrate it silently, knowing that I can observe and remember from the side line, then use what I have learnt to modify and hopefully improve what I do and who I am. I want my role models to change me in subtle and magnificent ways.
The idea of improvement dangles like a carrot ahead of me constantly. I want to change and improve; I want to be challenged. I want to explore the things I do in my everyday life with forensic scrutiny so I know I am working to my potential. Once I understand a task, I can relax into it; it will blend into my days with the rest of my work until I get the urge, once again, to change and improve. It never ends. I hope.
Funnily enough, I rarely find role models in real life. I find them online in this virtual neighbourhood we call blogs. I see them pushing the boundaries, breaking their moulds, and cutting loose. They're women and men for whom creativity and innovation play a daily part in their ordinary lives. I am inspired by normal people who find joy and enrichment in working hard. When I see that, I usually find grace and kindness travelling close by, and it encourages me to work in a similar way and to hope for something similar for myself. Hard work, grace and kindness; they're the glittering prizes for me but they can be elusive.
It's difficult at my age to find a good fit in role models. Many of my contemporaries don't live like we do, nor do they want to. But I have found that age in this context, like in most others, is irrelevant. What I look for and what I hope I provide to those who look to me is honest productivity, vulnerability, strength, courage and the drive to never give up when the going is tough; especially not then. I know I'm a hard worker, I'm not sure if I can claim grace and kindness but I do try.
I was stunned when I read recently that a 2008 survey of teachers in the UK found most young people look to celebrities as their role models. I wonder if that is true and I wonder about older folk too. Are role models important to you? What do you look for in a role model? Do you find them online or in real life? Do you consciously live your life in a way that provides a positive model for those around you? Do you think it's important to do that? If you have a few minutes today, I hope you'll take some time to answer one or two, or all, of those questions.