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My Role Models Are…

November 22, 2014

Imagine the following picture. You are in a deep fog, your vision limited. Next to you is a rope. It will guide you. Let go of the rope for even a few moments and you are lost, wandering aimlessly, in a deep malaise.

That rope is your values. The fog is life. Without a guide, you will wander forever. Remember, remember – hold on.


One popular way to hold on is role models. Reminding yourself of your values and common advice is good. But, sometimes we need idols to remind us of truths we have forgotten. Idols, as people we aspire to be and admire, can help us with that task, especially when they carry with them the value of common advice.

There is an old phrase – iron sharpens iron. It is the same with friends – you are, partially, a product of your surroundings and friends. So too it is with role models. They act as your light, or, as I sometimes hear, your ‘cabinet of advisors’ when you require assistance.

This is all a bloody long way of saying ‘Advisers count, you want good ones, I’m here to show you.’

So who are my role models?

Most people have role models like Nelson Mandela or Abraham Lincoln. People who accomplished unsurpassable feats of progress. I, however, indulge in role models closer to the heart. More personal. Indeed, these models come partially from my views on entertainment!

The point remains the same, however – these role models are fundamentally good models. They educate, instruct, and make one hold on.

  1. Professor Layton

As we discussed before, the Professor Layton series of games is reminiscent of a lost sense of Britishness. That sense of high tea, adventure, villages, good manners and elegant charm. A world that we have “lost”, even if an invented one.

The character Professor Layton embodies all the ideals of that world. Charming good wit, competence, attractiveness, and, of course, the English ‘eccentricity’ of…tea!

Obviously, the Professor is a hard character for somebody to ‘take’ as their role model if you haven’t played the games. But to me, the Professor lends a world of charm, good grace, intellect, and rationality to my actions when I keep the Professor at the forefront of my mind. The Professor also has a tender way with his ‘apprentice’ Luke.

  1. Jean Luc Picard

Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation. TNG was undoubtedly a rather optimistic view of the future where ‘no one has gone before’, but as with Layton, the whole point of role models is generally that they capture ideals and behaviours we would like to model ourselves after.

However, one of the things that really attracts me about Picard is the gamut of emotions his character undergoes in TNG. I used TNG episodes as related texts for my English exams, and I often chose Picard centric episodes. These episodes had to have enough depth for them to have deep analysis for English, however! Of course Picard restrains some emotions (he doesn’t swear, except for… ‘merde’ twice etc.), but on the whole hes no caricature. A wide-ranging, and most importantly visual demonstration of an ideal man.

Of course Picard is diplomat, Shakespeare lover, tea drinker, book reader, has a resounding voice, has strength, fortitude, discipline, charm. Picard is a very rational man as well. In short, Picard is an excellent role model. And I ask, am I doing what Picard would do?

Picard uses his leisure time always in a good way, for instance. That’s a lesson for all of us.

  1. Teddy Roosevelt

‘The patron saint of manliness’ the Art of Manliness, one of my favourite sites (its different than you might think at first glance), calls Teddy. AOM is, I think, perhaps the best resource for a role model there is, but role models aren’t websites, so let’s talk about Teddy!

Teddy was an incredible man who bounded through life with the vigour of the most enthusiastic boy. Look at how his fist is always coiled, ready to spring into action. Teddy lived the strenuous life. Teddy was, arguably, the last romantic. He knew the value of virtue, yet also the need for action. Teddy is also, arguably, the reason today we see the US Presidency as so important.

I cannot do this man justice in words. For the few faults of his era like racism, his enduring progressive legacy, and nobility far outweigh his few faults. I say to any reader right now that you will benefit by taking to heart all the article on AOM about Teddy Roosevelt. I also recommend 2 of Roosevelt’s speeches:

  1. The Strenuous Life
  2. Citizenship in a Republic

I read Citizenship in a Republic earlier this year. It is a bloody long speech, yet it is perhaps the best very lengthy speech I have ever read. It will stir the fire in your eyes, put the hair on your chest, and compel you to live and act virtuously.

Alternatively, if you lack the patience to read it (I don’t blame you, it is long), here is a short sample, the famous quote about the “man in the arena”:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face in marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

  1. Celestine Chua

The creator of Personal Excellence, and a more modern role model! Celes has a great, optimistic outlook, is always a reminder to me about the futility of pessimism. Celes is also fantastic for addressing productivity, and her personal experience and decisions are a powerful testament to this. Its inspiring to think about. Finally, her romance with her now husband is rather endearing I must say. (And I don’t normally say that about romance!) On some matters like the notion of ‘finding yourself’ I disagree with Celes and am more on board with the notions espoused by Brett McKay (AOM creator) that enjoyment and passion follow mastery, rather than preceding it.

A Council of Advisers

Role models can be used individually, yet something I sometimes do is form a ‘council of advisers’ from my role models. I try to think of what they might say, and see if it would guide me.

Of course, this tool is not something to use with every decision, nor is it really an instinctive reactive! However, when you are truly flummoxed, this is very useful. I find a council particularly good because it reminds one of their values, and hold on amidst the fog.

To You

I urge you, reader, to find some role models, and form a council of advisers. Advisers can do a wondrous job of bringing our values into view, and models our aspirations. So often, these models can or have clarified what we ourselves could not see, in their words and actions. Their quotes are sharper than our own many a time.

Ultimately, your models are your own. No one should deny that. But it is also true that some models are better than others. People need good rolemodels. May I humbly suggest:

  1. Teddy Roosevelt (even if female; also, Teddy is the NUMBER ONE model for any young boy, capisce?)
  2. Celestine Chua

Some other people I often read:

  1. Tynan (I’d learn from, yet not emulate Tynan)
  2. Scott Young (arguably his writing is too narrow for a role model, but for some fields brilliant)

Ultimately, I can’t give you all that you need, because I also think you models should be personal. Your models should not be just a list of famous figures. Those models will inevitably lead to impersonal, detached, outdated advice. You are connected more to your own experiences than those of your ancestors from hundreds of years ago. Act accordingly. If your school captain is truly wondrous (as one was from my school many years ago), learn from them. If your friend seems to sparkle with amiable qualities, emulate them. These people will stick out to you because they are from your lived experience. That is not to say that you should not pick older models – you should – but that you should learn from a variety of models from all walks of life.

Because the more people you learn from, the better your synthesis.


From → Foundations

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