Tuesday, August 6, 2013

No More Role Models

The recent revelations about certain sports stars has reinforced in my mind one of the most important principles of success in life:

Do NOT have a role model or mentor.

Do NOT seek an infallible human guide to success, spirituality, or greatness in any realm of life.

Do NOT pattern your life after any "exalted" idol who seems to exemplify authority and excellence in any given field of endeavor.

Learn from them, but do NOT imitate them unreservedly.

We all have stories about how we looked up to someone, admired them, held them in awe, patterned our lives after their example -- and were shocked at a loathsome scandal, gross imperfection, or miserably tragic flaw that disoriented us, deflated our trust, and left us greatly in dismay and sorrow.

We may have had to start all over again, building some structure for our lives and seeking some guiding light for our journey.

Let this, then, be our new battle cry: "NO more idols, mentors, or role models!!!"

Be self-motivated. Let the best principles, constantly tested and re-evaluated, be your guide. Any hero can suddenly become blind and lead you into a ditch. 

No individual or institution is a perfect or ultimate example of anything.

[As a Christian, the ONLY exception I would make is Jesus Christ himself. But not any specific pastor, church, denomination, ministry, or religious leader who claims to be imitating Christ.]

Discover the PRINCIPLES of success, and let them guide you. Do not pay much attention to how others have implemented these principles. Learn from their successes and failures, but do not "model" yourself after them.

Create your own customized path to greatness.

Examine what others have done, but do not become enthralled with any of them. Don't even be overly impressed with their achievements, for you never know the whole story, and many people downplay their faults, and the help that assisted them to victory, while taking all the credit for their accomplishments.

You can't trust anyone to be a consistent or long-term good example for yourself or your children. The most noble, intelligent, creative, and honorable person can suddenly, without warning, fall into the depths of depravity and stupidity.

It happens all the time. Even the most pure and decent among us have secret flaws and have made terrible mistakes. No leader, no celebrity, no hero is worthy of embracing and following. No philosopher, teacher, warrior, athlete, or business person can possibly be a guide to anything.

Each person has to forge their own success based on their inclinations, talents, and personal vision.

It's so comforting and easy to just let some role model or organization lead us. We feel so happy and secure in the arms of a strong institution, a new and exciting movement, a charismatic and charming leader. But the comfort is false, the security is deceptive, the leadership is bound to have some corruption occur within it. 

There is NO safety or serenity to be found in any role model or guiding organization.

All we can do is identify the best principles, according to reason, morality, and whatever spiritual or philosophical orientation we may have, then let these principles be the guide. 

Even our guiding principles must be subject to testing, critique, dissent, argumentation, and revision as we make our way through this world.

Other people may inspire us to a limited degree, but we must be on guard for their shortcomings, errors, mediocrity, and potential hypocrisy. Idols will always fail and disappoint you. 

If you put your faith and trust in them, they are sure to betray and mislead at some point. And that point could be what causes your total collapse, hurling you into irreversible catastrophe.

You must not model yourself entirely and relentlessly after any other person. Just determine what others are doing well and let that teach you, but cherry pick good attributes from a variety of other people who seem successful. Always be open to learning about their fallibility and bad decisions. Consider what their enemies say about them and ponder on the merits of their disputes.

NEVER put your whole heart into one person as the ultimate example to follow and admire and base your life upon. NEVER tell your children to follow some successful person's example as a pure and trustworthy paragon of virtue and intelligence.

Help your children exercise critical thinking, analysis, and debate skills. Help them identify basic principles and not look to individuals as reliable, perfect, and permanent representatives of the correct implementation those principles.

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