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How to be an Awesome Role Model Even When You Mess Up!

Michael Desparrois, Leader of Education Initiative at Our Community Listens | May 13, 2020

Every day, in every way, we are modeling behavior for those who look to us for guidance. But how often do we stop to think, “is this the kind of role model I want to be?” Do we realize that our actions become the model of behavior for those around us – even when (cringe!) we are not our best selves?

I know I have displayed, more times than I care to admit, some poor behaviors to the people who are close to me – my former students, kids I have coached in sports, team members I’ve led, and of course, my own daughters.

When I reflect on the various role models in my life, I think about the people and the positive or productive behaviors they exhibited. Some displayed the power of being sincere and leading with empathy. Others demonstrated how to persevere and get through the tough moments in life. A few simply showed me grace and gave me the space to be myself regardless of my actions.

Although I intend to bring the best me forward every day, the reality is, I sometimes fall short. Like most, I tend to mess up when I am overwhelmed by my feelings and don’t allow myself time to work through a positive behavior or outcome. 

David VanderMolen, Learning Design Leader for Barry Wehmiller University and author of Communication Skills Training for Our Community Listens, describes this as being “chronically human.” 

As VanderMolen explains, when teaching about Truly Human Leadership, “People are messy, faulted, and fraught with all sorts of issues, and problems that reveal we are broken beings with unlimited potential for greatness. We are not perfect, perfected, or always on point. We’re human and chronically so…A mixed-bag of being delightful and inspirational in many of the moments in our life and minutes later being disappointing and disturbing in deep and unfathomable ways.” 

If we are all chronically human, and have moments when we are not at our best, there will be instances when we model poor behavior. So what can we do then?

What if I told you there was a way you could still be a positive influence in the lives of the people you care about even when you mess up? Are you intrigued? 

If so, I would like to invite you to our new virtual workshop, “How to be an Awesome Role Model Even When You Mess Up!” Join us on Zoom May 19 at 11:30am (Eastern Time) to dive into what it means to be a role model and how to navigate relationships when your behavior isn’t the model you intend.

Register here. There is no cost to attend; the only requirement is that you bring an open head, heart and mind. 

About the Author: 

Mike Desparrois is the Leader of Education Initiatives at Our Community Listens (OCL). Prior to joining OCL, Mike spent more than 20 years in education as a Special Education teacher, consultant and a coordinator of special education.

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