Photo by London Scout

Who Is Modeling You?

I would be interested to know who you model your life after, if anyone?

Most of us grew up, I am assume, with a role model that we eyed sometimes with awe and wonder and sometimes with suspicion and regret; either way, we watched someone live their life and we either said, “I’m going to be like them,” or “I’m never going to be like them,” making the choice to model ourselves in a similar fashion but separate enough to maintain our sense of dignity, pride and individuality.

I have always loved the artwork of Norman Rockwell. He seemed to bring to life characters we all wanted to know. His ability to see the model and then see the picture in his mind embellished for the viewer has for years imprinted his work on the hearts and minds of many generations who wished for a seat at his Thanksgiving dinner table; who swelled with pride at the vision of the young man in a scout uniform saluting or who saw kindness in the face of the jovial doctor who checked out the little girl’s doll’s heart to make sure the doll was well — cotton stuffing, crooked stitching, little black shoes and all. Yes, he created many a role model we could model ourselves after.

Mr. Rockwell presented us models of a world that was brighter, cleaner and perhaps better than what we normally see, and by doing so, I believe he left us with an opportunity to model ourselves into the likeness of the characters he introduced us to years ago.

I am struck by the photo of the little girl grinning with her black eye outside the principal’s office. I don’t know, perhaps it reminds me of … well, me. Embarrassing but true, I hold the auspicious record of being the first girl in my school to be disciplined by the new principal. Yes, I was sent to the office after I slugged a boy named Gus on the playground for stealing my pencil — the one with a plastic head of a pirate.

Discipline back in my day was not what it is today. Oh, no! No one coddled me and told me it was the world’s fault that Gus didn’t have a pencil with a pirate’s head and thus he needed my pencil, and I should just give it to him since I had more at home. Oh, no, that would be the easy way. And what was worse, my trouble didn’t stop at school. I still had to go home and give my parents the note from the school about my bad behavior. (I’m pretty sure that is what I was more afraid of than the school) Suffice it to say, I really don’t remember what ultimately happened to me, but I do know that the boy I slugged became a Marine. And if I remember correctly, my brothers (all four of them) were pretty proud that I was able to knock him down with one hit! My modeling needed to change (and quickly) if I was going to graduate from first grade.

I’ve had different role models in my life and I am a reflection of them in many ways. Starting with family, I trust that my second generation support reflects the broad swath of kindness and support that my parents gave by helping organizations that help those in need. And although I am the only one in my family to seek out a place in public office, I feel sure that I reflect their legacy of service to others through the years. Most importantly, it is my hope and prayer to grow into the position of respect and honor that they enjoyed by those who have known them.

I also model a few of my friends past and present — those who try to remind me of what is important in life like slowing down and “smelling the roses,” or to just sit quietly and still and listen to my heart and my head and then make a my decision. I am blessed to have friends with much and friends with little and both sides teach me to see the world through eyes of strength and weakness, abundance and scarcity, what is massive and what is minute.

There are a few leaders that I like to watch to see how they build their brand, their company and their following. I have learned by watching them flame out or out-do others who started at the same time or simply watch others hum along at their pace in a race with no hurry to get to the top. I have read their stories of success and tears, wealth and bankruptcy. I’ve seen them with crowds of clamoring fans and then sitting at home every weekend tweeting their irrelevant opinions to no one in particular because the crowds have moved on to someone more relevant in their field. I have really focused on what I could take away from the stories of their lives, to be sure that I don’t make those same mistakes or to know what to look for when the winds of business come blowing my way.

Yes, daily I try to model the successful behavior of others as I build my bank of knowledge, life and love.

Do you have role models in your life or are you, like me, working to reflect the values that you grew up with?

Whether we idealize the images of our past with hopes to reflect the good parts or we create new ideas and set a new direction for others to follow, I am confident that, if we can see it in our minds eye, we can mirror the picture of personal success and see it come to fruition in our own lives.

In this age in which we live, I am concerned about the lack of role models. Seems that just when we find someone to admire, they fall hard and the media is breathless in recounting every misstep of their doomed demise. But maybe that is the problem — we’re looking to people who are not like us and who really have done little to nothing in life to be outstanding in their field or they are known because they have done something we’d be too embarrassed to do in public or in private. Since that just about covers most of Hollywood and Wall Street, we might want to leave them behind and take a look deep inside ourselves and see if we have the make-up to be the model we admire.

I think that if you are wise enough to invest in yourself though blogs, podcasts, books and education, you will be molded into the model of behavior that matches those you admire.

Consider for me again the stylized content of the Rockwell paintings and see for yourself if you are in those pictures or if you are part of the scene, because idealized or not, you are the model of the story of your life. Now it is up to you to make it come alive in a way that benefits everyone.

So instead of me asking you who you model, let me rephrase that to who is modeling you?

That should give you something to think about…deeply.

Deb Sofield — Speaker — Author — Coach

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