Who is your hero?
As we celebrated the birth anniversary of the Father of our Nation on October 2, I was struck by a thought. Just as Mahatma Gandhi undoubtedly inspired millions of Indians during the struggle for Independence, who are the heroes who inspire the youth of today? How do the youth in India choose their role models?
A role model is defined as a person who serves as an admirable example in our lives and whose behaviour we try to emulate. Clearly, choosing a role model is an important decision to make. While in many instances we imitate people unconsciously, without being aware of their influence on us, at other times we make well-thought-out choices in selecting our heroes. Generally, we feel drawn towards people who are successful, attractive and high achievers. In several youth surveys it has been found that most youngsters choose film stars, sports personalities or successful entrepreneurs as their role models. However, many a time real life heroes, ordinary people we encounter in our day-to-day lives, also inspire us. Parents, siblings, teachers, spiritual leaders, sports coaches, an uncle or aunt can well become our role models. My cousin admired his gardener for his diligence, commitment and pride in his work.
When we make an informed choice in deciding who our role model should be, there are fewer chances of our going wrong. Remember, all that glitters is not gold! Sometimes people we idealise, and place on a pedestal, fall from grace. Public figures who appear irresistibly attractive and seem to live perfect lives often struggle with immense pressure in their personal lives. If you have read Steve Jobs’s biography, you will notice that even though he was an iconic figure idealised by millions of young people in the world, he had difficulty getting along with people (at work, among friends) and not everyone was fond of him.
If you happen to choose a role model who turns out to be less than perfect or someone who is not what you expected him/her to be, the experience is likely to leave you bitter, disillusioned and confused.
The recent case of a self-styled godman arrested for rape and molestation of a young disciple is a case in point.
When we choose someone as our hero, it is important that that person resonates our values and aspirations. Our heroes are generally people we want to emulate in our professional and personal lives. We want to achieve what they have achieved. Therefore, it is important that we share some common ground with them. If emulating someone means compromising on our basic values, then it is probably not worth it. An article in The New York Times recently suggested that we choose the ‘second best’ as our hero if the best comes at a price we cannot pay.
If you look around closely, it is likely that you will find inspiration in your immediate environment itself. While it is perfectly all right to reach for the stars, make sure that you do not lose the ground under your feet while doing so!