Accidental role models

When people ask you who your role models are, you probably have set answers. You might say President Kennedy, Steve Jobs, or Gandhi. But chances are, you're not actively being influenced by them. They're too far away and too abstract.

There are likely people much closer to you in real life whom you emulate. These accidental role models are people who shape what you think is "normal," whether you realize their influence or not. Whether you've consciously chosen them as role models, they still ANCHOR your expectations.

For example:

Your parents' way of talking to one another, and to you, influence what you expect from your future partner.

Your friends' behavior when it comes to treating one another shape what you think good friends do and say.

Your current boss (and all your former bosses) have set the standard for how you act when you have direct reports.

All of these impact how we define what a good manager is, what a leader looks like, what counts as being devoted, what good friends do, what being "normal" looks like.

Usually, accidental role models are people in close proximity to you, physically or psychologically.

But it turns out that people or things that happen to be close to you, aren't necessarily the best model for your situation. It just so happens that they were there in the past or currently, and you are absorbing their perspective as "what things should be like."

Who are people who you might accidentally be using as a role model? Are these people the ones you want to emulate?

There are other ways beyond what's in front of you. And you can model someone for the way they handle one thing, but not another. Make sure you realize who you're modeling. Better yet, consciously choose who you're modeling and for what.

Takeaway: Accidental role models are usually people in close proximity to you, physically or psychologically. They're parents, friends, former bosses, etc. They shape what you think is 'normal' and what you subconsciously aspire to be.