The weekend has everything I was hoping to have, beautiful time to rest and get major things done. I used to feature a role model every month where I will read a personality profile and draw life lessons from them. Then a while ago, I received this mail from a friend in Sydney. “Hello Deola, My name is xyz xyz (I hid the name to protect his privacy). I am currently studying in Sydney. I recently came across an article you wrote on role models on your blog adeolakayode.com. In the article you started with Mr Erastus Akingbola. I saw all you documented about him. I am writing to ask how you felt when the recent happenings took place. I am sure you were disappointed have had my fair share of disappointments too.
I would really just want to know how you felt, what went through your mind, how you currently feel about the value system in Nigeria and how you intend to further tackle the issue of wrong values. I look forward to reading ur reply.
As I read his mail, many things came into my mind. I remember the unending bad publicity about the double standards and scandals that have continued to rock most of the respected leaders in the society. From of Tiger Woods, Juanita Bynum, T D Jakes and Paula White to Nigeria’s respected leaders both in the political and religious sectors of the polity, we are fast losing role models to scandals- from sex to money.
So many thoughts have ran through my head as news and rumours have managed to form an odd mixture that continually batters the conscience of people who once believed in the few leaders who have managed to stand up to what is true. Why are these leaders failing? Are there still true mentors? Here are my thoughts
Role models didn’t choose themselves – we chose them.
Mentoring is defined by someone whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others. We choose them, we make them celebrities, we form our opinions of them through the things they have achieved, their pedigree, credentials and we develop and form an opinion of the code of life they should follow and when they intimately cannot follow them, we get disappointed and blame them for not being up to the standards.Role models are not necessarily mentors- we chose them because of what we heard, read and our opinions of them, then we can’t blame them for our idolizing them.
The best of men are still men at their very best
No matter how great a mentor or role model is, he/she is till man/woman at his very best. I was conducting an interview for someone two weeks ago and he made a profound statement. If there were no checks and balances, even a holy man can fail. I personally don’t idolise people and my Pastor totally abhors it. I’m pastored by Tunde Bakare and though I’ve been ministered to by him for over ten years, I still have a room for him to fail. The only problem we have is usually that we have equated some people to the nature of Christ himself. We listen and respect and learn from men, but ultimately we follow God. If your CEO, Pastor, Role Model falls, we don’t have to fall with them, pick up yourself and follow Christ Though as we move in life, we tend to focus less on the things we shouldn’t do and to focus on the things we should do; we still need to give men room for the frailty of the human nature. Broken promises, backstabbing, heart breaks are all a result of putting too much trust in the infallibility of the human nature.
Most times role modeling can be addictive.
When you’re a role model, the primary focus is on you- I mean people can’t have enough of you. You speak here and there and you suddenly think having moments in front of the large audience and microphone and are tempted daily to present the polished and structured part of their lives. But when you become a mentor, the primary focus is on your protégés. The time commitment of role modeling is simply the life you lead, with everyone free to observe. Your actions continually speak and everyone can consciously predict where you stand even when you have not spoken. The time commitment of mentoring is a personal involvement in the lives of a select group of protégés. As a role model, you say: “Here’s a way to live that you might want to emulate.” As a mentor, you say: “Here’s a way to live that you might want to emulate…and let me share the details of my journey.”
Role Models must mentor
While a role model is “someone whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others” a mentor is a mentor is “a trusted counselor, guide, tutor or coach”. Mentoring is a progression of role modeling. Most times we chose mentors we do not have an idea of why they do the things they do, we only see them at their best- giving speeches, smiling on red carpets and well scripted books they probably never wrote a line of it. If role models communicate, they become mentors. Role models must share from their heart the things that have influenced their lives, how they have navigated the difficult choices of their lives (not only the ones that yielded results). People are not tending to find role models among the people they relate directly with and those who have the opportunity to influence their lives.
Finally we must communicate. Since our mentor-deprived generation is desperately searching for one, we hardly encourage peer communication as we even navigate our own challenges and even churches can be very guilty of this. Most times we talk about every thing except the things that matter to us. Look and search for a mentor, they may not have time, but create it. We need them, we need friends.