We all have our heroes and role models. I definitely have a very particular 'type' when it comes to choosing mine - most are women, usually writers who write with vulnerability, humour and thoughtfulness, who are positive people - both in disposition and in impact on the world, who are confident and entrepeneurial, who care about social justice, who inspire and enthuse me with their brightness and their individuality. Alex Franzen has already written far more eloquently than me on how recognising and celebrating our heroes can show us the people we are, and the journey we need to take to become the people we want to be. I think my heroes say far too much about me, and my hopes and dreams than perhaps I want them to - but they are a pretty coherent group so at least I know what I'm aiming at!
However, so often I hold my role models and heroes in a kind of abstract regard. When they do something new and excellent, I wistfully think how wonderful it would be to emulate them, but putting those thoughts into concrete actions never seems to happen. But that's not the point of heroes, is it? What's the point in looking up to someone, having the exact example you need to follow right in front of you, if you do not seize that opportunity. Someone else has already paved the way, and whilst everyone's journey will be different - the knowledge and advice you already need is out there somewhere.
So I wanted to take some real inspiration from my heroes, and came up with a little list of 'mantras', if you will, which I'm hoping to keep in mind to teach me not just to think and dream about the person I want to be, but to make proper steps to get there. And who knows if it will turn out how I imagine, but these little sayings can't hurt, can they?
1. Make your words and your work meaningful
Because what's the point in doing something superficially? In not saying what you really mean? Those whose work and words hold greater meaning have so much more impact on the lives of others, and they often seem a lot happier because of that. Meaningful will have different definitions to different people, of course, but for me it is about being truthful, purposeful and about trying to always have a positive effect on everything you touch.
2. Don't just say, do.
I suspect it is a feature of all heroes, that they are people of action - for how else would we know about them otherwise? We all talk about doing something great, but fewer of us actually do it. Following through on those plans and dreams is the only way to live - something that I am definitely trying to take to heart.
3. Don't let fear paralyse you
This one is so hard to do. It sometimes seems better not to try, to stay in your comfort zone, than it is to try and fail. Whether that is wearing a daring outfit or applying for your dream job - the things you most want are also the things that most scare you. We all know the answer to this one - that it is better try and know for sure, but that is so much easier said than done. However, if my role models can take that leap and not let fear get in the way of getting everything they want - I'm sure I can try too!
4. Give others a helping hand
The thing that I admire most in my heroes is the ability not to be selfish about their success. Rather than guarding their secrets closely and fiercely defending their position at the top, they actively encourage others to go after that same success. This is so important to me; retaining kindness, gratitude and open-heartedness should be compulsory for anyone with any level of success.
5. Do what you love, love what you do.
Pretty self-explanatory, right?
It all sounds a little cheesy, I know. But the world is a scary place, and trying to make your life and your work meaningful can seem an insurmountable task sometimes, so following the example of those who seem to have got this life thing down can only be helpful, right? Surrounding yourself with positive messages and people will help you (and me) thrive and give you the courage to tackle all of this daunting life stuff. And I don't know about you, but I sure need as much help as I can get!
What have you learnt from your heroes and role models? How do they inspire you? Let me into your wisdom!