Do you have one or two people who were important role models to you when you were a young child? You are indeed a fortunate man or woman to have had a role model as a young child. I recently spent time with my “big sister” who was a role model for me when I was a young girl. I mentioned that to her when we were together and she seemed surprised. Most people who are role models have very little idea how much they influence others – especially a young person. The positive influence of a role model is treasured commodity.
My sister inspired this piece because I thought about all of the things I learned from her for which I am eternally grateful. The eleven year age difference put me in the position to be a little sister who was a “tag-along” but never viewed as a pest. Some of what I learned from her was through observation of her behavior. I watched my sister get ready for the prom, go out on dates and was a flower girl in her wedding. From her I learned how to be a lady. I watched her go to college, be a part of a sorority and the concert choir. She let me help her with her sorority projects and I attended her concerts. I listened when she practiced her singing. My sister worked her way through college and from time to time during the summers I would visit her at the lunch counter where she worked as a waitress and order French fries; she cheerfully waited on me. I was so proud of her! My sister graduated from college and continued on to earn her Master’s Degree and become a teacher and beloved educator.
I learned from my sister by spending time with her and asking questions. She always took the time to answer my questions about life and growing up. My sister was a bit of a coach by encouraging me to follow in her footsteps to attend the same competitive academically accelerated high school, even when I had some doubts. She entrusted me with her high school graduation ring and as an added incentive allowed me to wear it for the summer after my 7th grade year of school. I lost this ring by accident while swimming at the beach and reluctantly and tearfully told her. She compassionately understood how I lost her ring and was not angry with me. Of course it goes without saying how much I love and admire my “big sister”.
As an adult, I am still blessed to have the compassionate understanding, support and encouragement of a lifelong friend and confidant in my “big sister”.
From her I learned how to be a lady, to exercise patience and understanding, push myself academically, to pursue excellence in my career and be the best person I can be. So much of who I am today is because of the time my sister gave to me as a young girl. To my sister, I say “thank you”.
In my business I am struck by the number of people who let me know from time to time how I have inspired them in their business to take a risk or overcome a personal challenge because I offered a word of encouragement. As a business person so much of what you do is visible and observed by others.
Are you a role model? You never know. It may take a lifetime for someone to let you know. Your behavior – your actions, your words – the time you spend with others and the kindness you show can and will have a lasting impact. Take time to share and care with others. It matters.