I’ve always had a strange fixation with Teachers, coaches and mentors. They’ve definitely played a large role in my life. Whether it was Mr Hammond – the one teacher in school who made me believe I could do anything I set my mind to. Or Spikey the kids club coach from Hull who made my holiday in Cyprus one of the most memorable times of my life. They all had a positive, defining effect on my life and they’ve definitely been role models for me.
Before I carry on, I don’t believe in Idols or Guru’s. Seeking help or guidance, and following someone else’s creed are two very different things. We all need people to look up to. To help up and keep us on the right path. But they are not living your life or working alongside the people you work with. (Working in fitness you’d see a lot of people apply one singular philosophy from one guru or another, even though it had no benefit to that particular client.) Use their advice, but don’t treat it as law and don’t put them on a pedestal.
Role Models are very rarely in your life for a long period of time though. They come, do their thing and leave. Just like everybody else in life – you just notice it more with people you want to stick around. But they make the most of that small period of time. But in that small time they make it very rewarding, with very little ask in return. Positivity, warmth and an approachable demeanour flow from their presence. They’re helpful, understanding, humble, truth telling and strict all at the same time.
The same thing goes for the rest of us. Our lives are full of small encounters. Things we wouldn’t even think of. Like a 2-minute conversation at the gas station or helping a woman carry a baby carriage up the stairs. Other times, it’s a bit more extended. It could be a two week stay at a friends house (Nobody ever gets called Uncle Jimmy for being a negative influence), a night in hostel in a back corner of Asia or working with somebody new on an extended project.
Wrongly, we’re all judged by these encounters. But the judgement isn’t my point here. In these short, almost insignificant times, we can have a massive effect on somebody. Acts of kindness and gratitude can go a long way and can help shape a more positive world. Nothing we do should ever intrude or negatively affect someone else’s life, unless absolutely necessary. Making the most of these small snippets makes the world a better place.
Now, I’m the guy who gets to stand at the front of the class. I sing, I dance and I try to make soccer camps as fun for the children I teach as possible. The response I get from the kids is overwhelming. Admittedly, I’m probably on the same mental wavelength as most of them; but that’s neither here nor there. I’m the guy who’s having his phone number and e-mail addresses taken by parents. I’m the guy who kids say is their favourite coach and they want to run their teams. The one whose parents say they go home mimicking, copying all the songs, dances and games I do. I’ve become the role model.
Sadly, I very rarely get a follow up from a kid. They too, like me, have already moved on to the next thing by the time they’ve sat on the sofa when they get home. But I take a lot of pride in knowing that in the brief snippet of their life I had a part in that I managed to make a positive difference.
So, my question to you is; If you know you’re only going to have a small input in to somebodies life how do you think it would look?
The answer might surprise you.