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What is the Value of Having Mentors and Role Models?

You have probably been told you could benefit from a role model or a mentor. In fact, everyone can benefit from a role model, whether that be in their careers, in their health, or their personal life. Role models help guide you and encourage you to be the best you can be. 

Role models, mentors, coaches, or sponsors all strive to serve the same purpose: to help you succeed. Understanding the true purpose of mentors and role models is pivotal to developing a strong relationship and gaining valuable insights. The power of a good role model is infinite and can help propel your personal and professional life into new eras. 

What is a Role Model and a Mentor

A role model or a mentor can be anything you want them to be. By definition, it is a person looked to by others as an example or to be imitated. Thus, they are someone who has traits you admire and want to emulate. Typically, a role model or mentor is someone in life or your profession who exemplifies how you want your life or profession to be. They are the ones who lead by example and who demonstrate a possible pathway to your own success. 

A role model and mentor are similar yet also have their differences. A role model can be someone you know or don’t know, best described as the person you look up to. A mentor is someone you know who talks with you about your goals and aspirations and helps refine and model those plans with you. Mentors can also recommend other people to look up to. 

The Value of Having Mentors and Role Models

Having a mentor or role model is likely to be the most productive and meaningful way of achieving the personal and business outcomes you desire because it is personalized and individualized to you and to you only. Considering they are someone you want to emulate, they are also someone you can gain insightful knowledge from when going through the same things they have already gone through. Being able to talk through hardships, struggles, advice, and achievements with someone who has seen it all is invaluable knowledge to have. 

In addition to valuable knowledge, mentors and role models can provide valuable resources. These can include books, online courses, insightful podcasts, or any other educational material about what you are seeking guidance for. Having a mentor or role model can also provide you with a sense of community and belonging, as their role is to help you build relationships and develop overall. 

The Qualities of a Good Role Model and Mentor

There are lots of traits that most mentors and role models exhibit that make them perfect for that role. Below is a quick overview of things you should look for when trying to find one for yourself.

Self-awareness. This is the ability to reflect honestly and productively on behaviors and the impact you have on others. Having self-awareness in a mentor is crucial so they can give you honest answers. 

Humility. Good mentors and role models practice humility. Being able to acknowledge where you stand in the great scheme of things is important to knowing how you can make an impact on someone else. 

Positivity. Not everything can be sunshine and rainbows. Some things can be hard to accomplish. However, having a mentor or role model who chooses to look at things in a positive light and optimistic focus on what you can do is valuable. 

  1. Source: Ruth Gotian (2020) Why You Need a Role Model, Mentor, Coach, and Sponsor

  1. Source: Mind Tools Team (2024) How to Be a Good Role Model

  1. Source: Emily Ryan (2023) Positive Role Models in Mentoring

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