We need credible local role models!

2014-02-14 05:47

How can we expect “A grade leaders” to come from our high schools and universities if they have no benchmark to work with?

Students and youth tend to look abroad to find characteristics they would like to instill in themselves. Attributes of success and influence from people like Jay Z, Barack Obama or Sir Richard Branson have allowed these individuals to play a prominent role in the lives of ambitious youth. Personally, I believe that an alignment to international influential people isn’t a bad thing at all. But it’s not the best either. We need to have our own local Jay Z, our own local; crazy; risk taking Branson and visionaries that continue the legacy of Nelson Mandela. We are lacking in that department.

Brendon Burchard’s Student Leadership Guide tells us that “to be a role model you have to be seen acting for the cause. You have to be around to serve as an example and build credibility.” From listening to student concerns and viewing the general trends on social media, our youth have no or few role models to look up to in South Africa. As much as picking up leadership qualities from role models is vital, I believe actual mentorship and intern opportunities with people who exemplify admirable qualities of success and contribution to our country and the world, will make the biggest difference. This can only happen if we have local; prominent individuals that are seen to have leadership qualities, both nationally and globally.

We as South Africans find it common that seemingly successful individuals and political leaders illustrate extreme behaviors, where an individual will have financial success or be placed in positions of power without correct behavior and with unethical ideas. The latter also holds as common, whereby a person might have a brilliant personality but does not achieve or is not given the platform to influence and portray the importance of having a positive personality that includes integrity and commitment.

I have learnt that there are three levels of role models and all three levels must exist for someone to really benefit and develop as a future leader or as a young successful person.

The first level of influence and normally the most crucial level is that of parental or supervisory influence as a role model. Stephen R. Covey, author of 7 habits of highly effective people has said “Role modeling is the most basic responsibility of parents. Parents are handing life's scripts to their children, scripts that in all likelihood will be acted out for the rest of the children's lives.” We as the youth spend most of our school days in the company of our parents (guardians), becoming familiar with their actions, their likes and dislikes and normally we align our interests to this sphere of influence. In the leading works of Howard Jones, it is shown that neuroscientists have discovered that a child’s knowledge develops at an early age based on their interactions with a responsive environment. By not experiencing exemplary social, intellectual and emotional qualities a child’s ability in these fields will be affected and will require much stimulation later on to rectify the deprivation of the earlier years if one want to be successful. Therefore, this stage of leading by example is paramount to positive achievement. I urge parents to put your best foot forward, show your children what you would expect from them. Teach them good and pure qualities you currently hold and at the same time note which of your own qualities are lacking and give your children an opportunity learn about these from and external source so that we can create a generation not suffering from the same fears their parents suffered from.

The second level is the achievable role model level. Once you have passed the adolescence stage and have decided to embark on a road towards success or achievement, select someone whose qualities you would like instill in yourself or whose level of success you would like to reach within five to six years. Usually the role model you choose here is someone who is in the same profession you plan to do or maybe someone who is an ex-student at your school that did very well. Identifying such an individual’s path to where they are will give you the “handbook” to achieve your goal. Mark their achievements and failures to direct you on your own journey.

The final level requires you to have end result role models. These are people who have achieved what you want to achieve in the long term. This is where the names like Nelson Mandela, Jay Z, Kanye West, Oprah and many others are mentioned. One’s second level of role models can often be crafted from mentors who helped shape the Role models in this final level. Having an end goal is important because it allows you to plan for the major goals you need to achieve such as a university degree or establishing the foundations of a business.

In my opinion success is attainable with the right guidance and the correct role models at every stage of your life.

Follow me on Instagram: @zareefsmb

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