The ancient Greek saying “know thyself” offers us a healthy way of living. By knowing our limits, our vices and our virtues, our strengths and weaknesses, we can lead a safer, saner life. We can also benefit from knowing ourselves if we look at the qualities of people who were positive and negative role-models in our personal and professional lives.
We are all well-aware of the positive role-models who have made good impacts on our lives. We embrace these role-models and are thankful that we knew them. They exhibited behaviors and traits we found admirable and inspirational. These people showed us who we want to be.
We should likewise be aware of and thankful for those people who were negative role-models to us. These are people who have shown us how not to act, what not to be like. Negative role-models repeatedly act in ways we find wrong or inappropriate and often say things we wish would never be said. These people influence us just as positive role-models do: they show us how things should and should not be done. In short, they are people we don’t want to be like.
Sometime this week when you have a few spare minutes to be reflective, write down the traits that made your positive role-models attractive and admirable to you. Then consider the ways the negative role-models in your life acted that were offensive or off-putting to you, writing these ways down,as well. Look over the list and carefully examine how you display the attractive qualities of your positive role-models and how you may also inadvertently display some of the negative qualities. Be objective here; it can be difficult to see the negative and harmful things we may do in our interactions with others, especially our loved ones.
Keep this list handy and occasionally go over it. This will help you know yourself and the influences who helped you to become you. What have you learned from your past role-models that has helped you to be a positive influence on the lives of your friends, co-workers, and family members?