Role Models

We are all role models.  It makes me crazy every time I hear a sports figure say they don’t want to be a role model as a means of dismissing their bad behavior.  Most of use don’t chose to be role models, but we are none the less.

People observe us and what they observe can and often does have an impact.  It may be a young person in your classroom, your neighborhood or your church who silently sees and absorbs how you interact with others.  It could be a junior employee who watches how you treat others in meetings.  It could be your own children who model your behaviors when with their friends.  We are all role models – intentional or not.

As a favor to a friend, I spoke at  Marysville Mountain View High School last week.  The principal and her staff were delightful and it was a pleasure to work with them to coordinate my visit.  Having spoken for high school groups before, I held no illusions that these teens would be held in rapt attention at my every word.  I had an ounce more “wow factor” when I was still on television as spokesperson for the business I founded, Sleep Country USA but no more.  Most of these kids were too young to remember me from the commercials even though they can sing the jingle.

As expected, the teens were squirmy and keeping their attention for 30 minutes was not easy goal and one not always achieved.  Was the message getting through?  Did it make a difference?  Was it worth the time and effort?  Who knew?A couple of the students came up after for conversation and photos.  The staff seemed genuinely appreciative and hey, the outlet mall is just across the freeway so I can shop some as a consolation prize.

Then later that day, a young man from the audience posted a comment on my Facebook business page which prompted this post.  Here is his comment complete with the all lower case format typical of texters via cellphones:

“I could tell alot of the kids at mountain view weren’t too interested in your speaking. I know i speak for me and the majority of the seniors when i say your story really opened my eyes. wish i had the courage to speak to you afterwards. but on the walk home i realized i missed out on a once in a lifetime opportunity speaking to a north west icon. Thank you for today Sunny.”

The moral of the story:  the investment is worth it.  You may not know it at the time, you may never have validation, but it matters none the less.  Even if you aren’t asked to speak at a school, be aware of the importance of being a positive role model.  Whether at work, in your neighborhood, your community or even your own home – you are a valuable role model and it would serve us all well to remember that as we walk the paths others will follow.

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