I read the email repeatedly thinking that the email was mistakenly intended for someone else. I was humbled that someone thought of me this way but I had never imagined myself being a role model at all. I had not sought this role, nor would I have chosen it. In reality, the role was automatically assigned. After thinking about the email, it wasn't so shocking afterall. Someone had inspired me the same way. I took my current career path because I was inspired by a gentleman by the name of Ray Kendrick. Years ago, he was the Vice President of Human Resources at a previous employer. I had actually watched and admired him the same way. He more than likely would not remember the conversation but he actually suggested that I consider HR as a career path, as I was headed in another direction and considering law school. To this day, he does not know that he was my role model and inspiration to achieve greater heights.
Is being a role model a choice or a responsibility? Is it automatically assigned when you place yourself in certain positions? I am implying positions of authority, power, influence or high visibility. These positions could be athletes, movie stars, politicians, religious and other leaders, executives, managers, service members and of course mom and dad.
Whether we choose to be a role model or it was automatically assigned to you due to your role, it places you in a glass bubble and you become both visible and vulnerable. When you are in certain positions, your interactions, demeanor, how you conduct yourself, your responses and your reactions are all visible to others. Anyone in a position of authority, power, influence or high visibility may be a role model whether they choose to or not. When we are in these roles, there is a high probability that someone may be emulating and aspiring to be who they see or believe we are. We can either accept our role or reject it. Either way, it may have an effect on someone who may looking up to us. In either case, I believe we really have the responsibility to behave as such.
I was never able to identify this employee but I can truly say that if we ever had the chance to meet, I would say, “thank you for inspiring me.”
I graciously accept any role if it is a conduit to inspire others to reach new heights. I am truly humbled but am never worthy of such an honor.
Joseph Conrod Sr. SPHR