Two years ago, this brilliant question from my eldest, came, as they do out of the blue and totally stumped me. I stuttered er I’m not sure- let me have a think… who is your role model?

So naturally this has bugged me ever since but raised its head again last week when my son was looking for a footballer’s autobiography to read. A bit of a minefield for a relatively sheltered 10 year old. So the conversation went along these lines- so it’s got to be someone who you can look up to, who has the same values as you- someone who’s a good role model. So Beckham but definitely not Rooney- now my footballing knowledge is not extensive but after a bit he said “Ok mum I get it.”

In coaching when prompting a client to think of a range of possible options, one useful question can be “What would your role model do?” This can be a great question to encourage us to think more widely and more creatively but equally a very challenging question if we’ve lost touch with who our role models are.

Some time ago I was delivering coaching training to a group of teachers and posed this question. One teacher’s response was “ But what if you don’t have a role model?” This was similar to my response when my son first asked this question a couple of years ago, I thought that we as adults need to get better at figuring out who our role models are if we want to encourage our children to follow and emulate their role models.

So which qualities do I look for in a role model?

1 Inspiration
People who are positive and who take action. Deliciously Ella and the Hemsley sisters are on my vision boards, not just because they inspire me to exercise and to eat healthily but because I’m inspired by their positive attitudes, unfailing enthusiasm and passion for the work that they do.

2 Tenacity
I was hugely inspired by Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah in the 2012 Olympics. I was super excited to be running (way behind) Sir Mo at the Great North Run last year. Reading Jessica Ennis’ brilliant autobiography and Chrissie Wellington’s fantastic book A Life without Limits inspired me to push myself do to more and although my attempts at sprint triathlon are miles away from Chrissie Wellington’s Iron Mans, they pushed me to do more than I thought was possible.

Similarly I am inspired by those who overcome adversity, refuse to make excuses and go on to achieve great things. Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou are long standing heroines in my life because they both experienced significant trauma and challenges as children- childhood rape, poverty and racism. Yet they didn’t make excuses and went on to serve and achieve incredible things.

3 Values
I have been very lucky to have great family role models- my mum and my Nanna both set fantastic examples as mothers and grandmothers; they both worked hard and served their communities. The drive to make a difference is without doubt inherited from my mum.

4 Authenticity
I need my role models to be real and relatable. I’ve been very fortunate to have been trained by some incredible coaching experts at The Coaching Academy but the most inspiring for me is an amazing coach and trainer Pam Lidford. Part of the reason I can relate to her is because she came from an education background and exemplifies for me the idea that change is possible.

Shaa Wasmund, entrepreneur and author is hugely inspiring for me also as she is real- she’s a single mum and achieves what she does by taking action and not making excuses.

5 A step or two ahead in their journey
Much as it may serve us to ask What would Beyonce do? sometimes it helps to have a role model who is just a step or two ahead of us in their journey so that the jump that we need to make isn’t quite so huge.
When we’re struggling to achieve our goals, it’s human nature that our brains start to tell us these stories: It’s easy for her because she’s got loads of time/ money/ support but when we look at people who have achieved in spite of challenging circumstances, we can start to put those excuses to one side.

Now I’d love to hear from you…
Who are your role models? Where do you get your inspiration?

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