The Importance of Role Models:

18 September 2012
Mental Edge
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Role Models Everywhere

Charles Barkley famously said, “I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” While he makes an obvious point — no distant professional athlete should ever replace a parent as the supreme example on how to live your life — Barkley’s quote, to a certain extent, shirks the responsibility every public figure possesses. Whether or not Barkley wants to be a role model, his success in basketball caused a generation of aspiring basketball players to follow his lead.

The influence of role models on aspiring athletes, both in competition and in life, is vital.

Role Models Defined

Role models are people an athlete looks up to in life — for the way they achieve success in their sport, the way they have aligned both their training and their mental edge for maximum gains, and the way they have inspired people off the field.

Role models encourage us on the path of life, helping us make tough life decisions and encouraging us to stay on course to attain end goals. Here are some steps to keep in mind as you consider your role model:

1. An ideal role model is a person with whom you have contact. Drew Brees might be an inspiring person and you can certainly glean much from watching him play football and reading his interviews, but his influence on your life pales in comparison to a role model capable of personally touching your life.

2. Role models can be positive and negative. A role model influences you on and off the field. In addition to Charles Barkley’s famous quote previously mentioned, he stated that a million guys can dunk a basketball in jail. Don’t choose a role model based on perceived on-field success if off-the-field matters are present, or in question.

3. Encouragement is important. Role models inspire you to grow in sport and in life. They recognize what you do well and they encourage growth in areas that need a little work. They have experienced the big picture and can help you climb closer to your goals. Of course, role models are human and will make mistakes but the best role models understand the good and the bad times. They always remain positive pointing you toward realistic goals.

The Perfect Mix of Skill and Character

A role model must contain a perfect mix of skill and character. Role models provide direction in sport and in life. While Charles Barkley doesn’t think athletes should be role models, the truth is anyone can be a role model provided that you have access to them, they add benefits to your life on and off the field, and they remain focused on encouraging you to achieve your goals. Who do you want to be? What do you want to accomplish?