Thursday, June 9, 2011

Who Do I Look Up To?

Almost everyone has at least one other person who they look up to -- for inspiration, admiration, and in respect. A regular blog reader sent me an email saying that I have served as a role model, in a way, to him. Aw shucks, golly, gee whiz. As I have said often, I have no idea who I touch with my rambling writings.

I thought I would take a spin at this -- from my perspective -- to state who I look up to and admire, and who serve (or have served) as role models for me.

First and foremost, my parents were my role models when I was growing up. They were respected members of society, contributed to the health and welfare of many people, and by observing their service to others, I modeled many of my own behaviors after them in what has become natural for me to do -- to care for others in various ways.

It really bothers me a lot when children cannot say that their parents served as role models. I am blessed and fortunate to have had marvelous parents who led the way.

Current-day role models for me are not well-known; rather, they are people who are good mentors. A mentor is someone who is patient and kind, thoughtful and guiding, and who educate without telling you what to do. They lead by example. My mentors look forward, not back. They look for the good things in others, not the bad. They find hope when the outlook is bleak. They choose to smile, not frown. They don't complain or harp on what's wrong or what someone else could have done differently. Sure, they recognize that sometimes things go wrong and people do bad things -- but overall, they have abilities to rise above that, and continue to point out the good in others, and inspire positive direction in choices of actions that I take.

Every hour of every day, one is faced with many choices. Those who serve as role models for me are those who I ask myself, "What would he say? What would she do?"

I cannot say that I have always made the right choices. I've screwed up, made many mistakes, and caused anger and hurt. No, I'm not perfect; no way. I think the difference with me is that I (try to) learn from my mistakes, and take measures to prevent them from happening again.

I have to credit my parents with allowing me to make choices and sometimes have them turn out badly, so I could learn from that experience. It hurt when that happened, but I learned far more from trying to do something myself than being told about it by a parent. (I know it is very hard for parents to let their kids do something that they know won't work, but the lesson learned from that is so much more valuable, and "sticking.")

So who do I look up to? When I was about 20 to 40 years old, I had four primary mentors: one elected official who served in local office; one older, wiser woman who became my "West Coast Mom" as I was completing my graduate studies; one leader of an organization for which I volunteered; and my twin brother. (Seriously, he meant that much and continues to mean that much to me.)

Two of these mentors have died, while two others remain close in my life, in my heart, and with whom I have almost daily contact.

I am pleased that I have surrounded myself with many people who inspire me, lead me, and help me to be a better man to this day. My partner, my twin brother and my siblings, my very close friends (you know who you are!), and the spirits of my parents, my Uncle Charlie and Aunt Lee, and my Uncle Joe. I am indebted to them for the lessons that they helped me teach myself. Yep: that is a good indicator of a great role model -- one who inspires you to learn from your mistakes, pull yourself up from the bootstraps, and move on.

Life is short: appreciate those who provide positive influence in your life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You've got it backwards, bro. You have been someone who I have admired as a mentor, friend, and adviser for a long, long time. I'm honored that you say that I am someone you look up to. I won't argue. I'll just say, isn't it cool that as brothers we look up to each other?

Love you, ore e sempre,