I remember being a teenager and scoffing when an adult would try to point out a celebrity as a good role model. “I’m not a little kid anymore, I don’t need role models,” or so I thought. Little did I know just how important role models could continue to be in an adult’s life.
As Gold Millennials, our childhood role models probably included celebrities like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Serena Williams. While these stars each have much to celebrate and many of them have contributed time and money to their chosen causes, many of us probably just looked up to them because they were famous and cool.
As adult millennials, most of us start to care less about being famous and cool. Instead, we start thinking about our families, our careers, and our day-to-day lives. Instead of dreaming of being featured on MTV’s Cribs, we’re pinning decorating tips from HGTV on Pinterest. Instead of singing along to HitClips players and pretending we’re singing to a sold-out stadium, we’re jamming to nostalgic Spotify playlists while doing the dishes. Instead of practicing sports and imagining going to the Olympics, we’re at the gym trying to relax, get those endorphins pumping, and lead a healthy lifestyle.
Does that mean we no longer need role models in our lives? To the contrary! Grown-ups need role models just as much as those who are still growing. Instead of looking up to people simply because they are celebrities, however, we start to get a little pickier.
We look up to folks who demonstrate the power of kindness, people who overcome adversity, those who change the game, those who inspire us to do more with our lives. Sometimes these new role models are still celebrities or influencers, but often they are the people we interact with in our day-to-day lives.
Growing up, so many of us tuned in to Mr. Rogers on PBS. I remember sitting in my grandma’s living room, watching Mr. Rogers tell me about life in different countries and how people worked at different jobs. Mr. Rogers was a great childhood role model and I know his kindness and understanding continue to inspire adults today.
Earlier this summer, my husband and I saw Won’t You Be My Neighbor at a local indie theater. By the end of the film, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. It was clear that the entire audience, millennials and baby boomers alike, had been touched by the subject of the documentary. It was an amazing reminder of the power of kindness.
As I said, not all role models need to be celebrities. In fact, I think that as we get older, our role models are more likely to be those around us. One example of this is Gold Millennial’s very own founder and CEO, Stacy. She exudes energy and enthusiasm in everything she does and is quick to advocate for herself and jump into a new opportunity.
Working with Stacy has motivated me to “just do it” – just start, just give it a try, even if I’m nervous. As I can often be a perfectionist and overthinker, seeing Stacy’s confidence and do-anything attitude has been a valuable reminder to have more confidence in my own abilities and to not let perfection get in the way of progress.
Angela, in addition to being Gold Millennial’s CMO, is a good friend of mine. I think friends can be some of the best role models. Over the years, Angela and I have both given plenty of advice to each other. She reminds me to embrace my creativity and to turn my dreams into reality.
Stay Humble, Stay Hungry
As we grow older, role models remain just as important as they were when we were young. We need mentors who coach us, coworkers who inspire us, friends who lift us up, and yes, even celebrities and influencers who we admire. However, we don’t necessarily want to be just like our role models. As children, we would often say, “I want to be just like mommy or daddy when I grow up.”
As grown Millennials, we pick and choose the traits we look up to in our role models. We are secure and comfortable with ourselves, but humble enough to admit we can still learn a lot from others. We don’t want to be just like our best friend, but we want to improve our organizational skills to be just as good as theirs. We don’t want to trade places with our coworker, but we want to increase our confidence to their level. We don’t want the exact same things out of life as our mentor, but we want to learn how we can climb up the career ladder or start our own business like they did. We aspire to be ourselves, just a better, brighter version.
Who were some of your role models as a kid? Do you have any role models as an adult? Do you have any friends who inspire you to improve yourself or be a better person?