A Role Model – Whether you like it or not

 The public is enticed by image, status and popularity. Celebrities, as well as non famous people, have the ability to intentionally and accidentally cause individuals to imitate their behavior.  When we understand our impact on others, we can use this power to have a positive impact on the world. 

I reflected one afternoon on Judgment Day.  Would it include data on the positive and negative influence we had on others while here on Earth? Imagine a long list of individuals who were either led to pathways of constructive living or led astray due to an encounter with us or someone we influenced. Our indirect effect on people could generate a ripple effect causing someone to pass along positive behaviors learned from us. Conversely, it is also, possible for us to indirectly corrupt and contaminate someone we never met. They may become caught up in the chain reaction initiated by our actions.  

Athletes resent being called a role model because of the responsibility connected to it. To think that someone will act destructively because of the example they set is too much to bear. Phenomenal power accompanies fame and the influence generated from public exposure. There is a great obligation; to paraphrase Spiderman; “with great fame comes great responsibility,” therefore, the power they have over others is a great opportunity to influence in a positive manner. People want to be relieved of the responsibility of affecting people’s lives in a negative way. A professional athlete says, “I am not a role model, but their celebrity status increases their capacity to lead people whether they like it or not. The same applies to you and me. 

People will rebel, resist, and follow our lead when they see us behave in a certain manner. They want to participate in pleasurable deeds because we did and they want the same treatment received from our actions and reactions. Some will decide to travel a path because we walked that road. We cannot get out of life without our behavior making a mark. There is magic in the model we project. We may claim that we are not a role model, but we are, whether we like it or not. 

Our behavior is a suggestion placed in someone’s mind, which forms an opinion that is converted into action. Many people act, not remembering the source of the motivation. The seed placed in their minds may have a delayed reaction, as if a time bomb set to explode later in their lives or a flower that blossoms long after the seed was planted. 

People are unconsciously attracted to three elements that affect all relationships. They are drawn to charisma and chemistry with a desire to be connected to something or someone. 

  1. Charisma
  2. Chemistry
  3. Connection


Charisma has a magical quality that attracts people. Leaders with this quality are effective in getting people to follow them. Tony Alessandra, Ph.D., professional speaker, defines charisma in his book by the same title as follows; “Charisma is the ability to influence others positively by connecting with them physically, emotionally, and intellectually.” Charisma has also been the culprit to persuade people to behave in negative ways, causing harm to themselves and others.


Chemistry is usually expressed as a natural bond that people have for someone. Good chemistry is usually used to convey the ease by which people get along. They are like compounds brought together in a chemistry experiment and seem to work well together. Hydrogen and oxygen work well to form water. Chemistry enables us to notice compatibility with someone from the things we have in common. When we are on their wavelength, we stimulate positive and negative behavior. Chemistry however, can cause people to overlook flaws as if they did not exist. 


One goal of a relationship is to achieve connection. Our need for belonging is satisfied through connecting with people. Remember, we are not an island. We need people and the assurance we feel when joined with someone we admire. We can’t deny the importance of our actions on the people around us. My daughter went through a rebellious phase where her favorite phrase in response to my suggestions was, “It’s my life.” This was her cry of independence. She would follow this comment with an argument justifying her right to make her own decisions without regard for the opinions of adults. 

I wrote her a poem after one of these debates, so she could read my thoughts without activating her defense mechanisms. The title was “Your life is not your own.” Needless to say, she was initially annoyed. The poem noted that we are not here in isolation. We are interdependent, whether we want to admit it or not. Ancestors sacrificed, protested, suffered, fought and died for her current life style. She would one day see the value of being connected with something larger than herself. A few lines are listed below.

“Your life is not your own,

For children emulate your ways.

They study you and when they’re grown

They will honor and paraphrase

Your life through imitation.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It is also the number one way we learn. As students, apprentices, assistants, understudies, protégés and everyday people, we learn by imitating and implementing the actions of others. We model after the master. We follow the leader. Therefore, our behavior can have a tremendous influence on our companies, communities, families and relationships.

Fashion trends exploit the tendency of people wanting to be with the “In” crowd. They want to belong, to be “in the know”, fashionable, current and influential. This need for belonging is hard-wired into our personalities. 

We can have an impact and not realize it. Our influence may go unnoticed by everyone except the person involved. Therefore it is crucial to watch our actions and live our lives as a carrier of influence. We are wielding power beyond our imagination.

 Many times people don’t want us to know they are copying our style or actions. Sometimes, they may forget to tell us how much we mean to them and how our behavior shaped their thinking and actions. The impression we made on them is not something they talk about enough, if at all. However, they picked up something and incorporated it into their thinking and responses.

The magnetic lure of our image is like magic. We must be aware that destructive practices, bad habits, arrogance, faulty alliances, toxic temperament can also be passed along like a virus if protective measures are not put in place. But, we can decide to make a positive influence on the universe by accepting the fact that we are role models. We are not innocent bystanders. If we utilize the authority of our presence, our influence and actions will make a difference in the lives of many people.

Copyright © 2011 Orlando Ceaser

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