Many of us seek role models. When we are children we look up to our parents, family members, teachers and maybe even the family dog. I know my dog Milo inspired me with his tenaciousness. Many, sadly, also look up to celebrities, including rock stars and football players when many of those said individuals just want to be famous or play a game. Not every “role model” aspires to be one. There are also very strange discussions around role models. A decade ago, I was talking to a coworker as I was trying to decide which type of PhD program to pursue. He then noted that his wife was a great person to talk to and seek advice from since she was “excellent with makeup”.
You have to choose your role models carefully. Perhaps it is not even correct to use the phrase role-model anymore. Basketball great, Charles Barkley, has stated that he believes athletes are not the figures that children should be emulating and that it is the parent’s responsibility to be role models. Parents are to be both disciplinarians and role models but that intersectionality is at times at odds with itself. In my own personal reality, I have not found many role-models in the world or even in my past workplaces. I have had champions and supporters in my life that helped me along my life journey.Of course, my mom was my greatest role model, champion and supporter. I have had people that I greatly admire and that have inspired me to do good in the work and be the best that I can be. I have also had people in my life that inspired me greatly because of their stupidity. And you thought I was going to be all fuzzy in this post. Let me explain.
A zombie film is not fun without a bunch of stupid people running around and observing how they fail to handle the situation.
There have been instances in the workplace where I have decided to go for big changes because I saw the actions of stupid people and I was motivated to not be like them. And, I am thankful to them.
Six years ago, I was not sure how I wanted to move up the workplace ladder. A colleague noted to me that I should go for the big opening that had just been made possible by the death of our boss. It was quite a sad situation. I didn’t really want to start thinking of how his death created a position vacuum. I was mourning and it seemed grotesque. Then I noticed that another colleague was starting to jockey for the position. The competitive side of me started to kick in gear. However, that was not what solidified my actions. I was in another meeting when this colleague started saying things and proposing business actions that were just plain idiotic. In that moment it hit me: if this colleague, that was half brain-dead, got the position they would be my boss. There was no way I could be managed by such an idiot. I threw my hat in the ring and won. Really, there was no competition once I went for it. I was thereafter forever grateful to that person. In a different instance, I came out of my workplace stupor by the inconsiderate, idiotic actions of another. The action was quite small and silly but it left me feeling disrespected and realizing that this person was so idiotic that it would drive me to tears. Thus, I left and became bigger. I am grateful to that person.
There have been other times when I just watch the action’s of others and see where it is that they get tripped up. In essence I watch out for the beta-testers in the workplace. Kudos to them for being courageous to try new actions.
Then there are those that you know are not the brightest bulbs but they assert statements with the utmost confidence. I truly enjoy conversations with those people for you always have to be on your game and up your knowledge of all relevant and irrelevant matters. They motivate me to be discerning and that is a great skill to have in the workplace and in life, in general.
Beware of false knowledge;
it is more dangerous than ignorance.
George Bernard Shaw
The moral of this story: don’t be put off by the stupidity of others but instead be inspired by it. Use it to become your own boss. Use it to boost your own self-confidence. Use it to build your own empire.