Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Be a role model

I still remember meeting a great architect at a place I worked. He was very humble and so good that he was a role model. Basically whether we like it or not, we become role models to people. The choice we have to make is what kind of a role model do we want to become? Good or Bad?

The person I am talking about is so good at technology that he had close to 20 patents, yet he is so humble when it comes to dealing with people and great at sports. I remember once that he was supposed to take some classes back home and I was onsite. I was disappointed at not being able to attend his presentation, so I went up to him and requested for the slides (so that I could atleast see them). By the time I reached my cubicle, I got an email from him saying

"Balbir, could you please review these slides for me to present for the folks back home"

It is often not easy to be a role model, if you are nice to people, some people exploit you, this requires you to be very assertive. You should be able to inspire people with what you do. You should set them up for success without holding their hands. You should be able to punish the guilty by making them realize that they are wrong and always practice what you preach.

There is a well known story about Mahatma Gandhi

An old woman came to Gandhi with her grandson from a far off village. Her grandson used to eat a lot of jaggery and would not stop or give it up. Since he looked up to Gandhi, she thought may be Gandhi could talk some sense into him. When she met Gandhi and explained the context, Gandhi said "Please come meet me after a week and I will advise your grandson to stop eating jaggery". The woman was surprised and angered that Gandhi was going to make her wait and travel back and forth again. Gandhi politely explained, "I myself eat a lot of jaggery, how I can preach something when I am unable to do it myself, the time I have asked for, is to help myself out of the habit, so that I can advise your grandson"

Being a role model is not easy, but whether you like it or not, somebody might be looking up to you for help and direction. So whether you are ready or not, it will strike you someday that all of us are role models to children, colleagues at work, at home or elsewhere. We need to do our best to be good role models to other people, ourselves and the society.
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