How do you succeed in your career? You need at least two critical ingredients for success. First, you need to know your career goals with absolute clarity. Second, you need to produce results at a high level to get there. Beyond these essentials, there is one powerful method to accelerate your career. And that is by using role models. This article explains the Six Ways In Which Role Models Accelerate Your Career.
A role model is a person who has achieved the career goals you desire. He or she may be producing the results you want to produce. Or he or she may be the very embodiment of who you want to become. You see, your career success is not just about being able to produce a set of outcomes alone. It is often also being a person who can deliver such results. It involves understanding mindsets, thinking and communication styles, and some core values.
Six Ways In Which Role Models Accelerate your Career
Using role models can help you accelerate your path to your career goals for many reasons:
1. Makes it Easy to Visualize Your Goals:
Although it is critical for you to know your career goals, it is often difficult to find that clarity. Some people are blessed with an ability to visualize clearly while others struggle with it. A role model helps you get that clarity because such a person provides you a broader embodiment of what you want to achieve. For example, you may want to be a great marketing professional. But you may find it hard to clearly and precisely understand what that means. Finding someone in that position helps you see the results, capabilities, success criteria and other contextual outcomes associated with your career goals.
2. Provides you The Needed Confidence:
We know that for the longest time, people thought that running a 4 minute mile was impossible. But once someone achieved that goal, many others also started running a mile in four minutes. Seeing someone else achieve the goals you want to achieve can help you get that confidence. You can tell yourself that if someone else can do it, you can do that too.
3. Provides you a Template for Success:
Once you have found a role model, you can see the template for success. You can talk to them and ask them what makes them successful. You can ask them how to get there. Their insights and advice can provide you a template to emulate. If you have ever worked with any template, you know that it is much easier to use it than to create it.
4. Provides you the inspiration:
Seeing someone succeed the way you want to succeed can be very inspirational. It can provide a lot of energy and momentum from within. That inspiration can be valuable especially when your energy is sagging.
5. Helps you See a Deep and Rich Skill Set in Motion:
Often, success in a career requires many skills that work in tandem. It is often difficult to articulate that rich skill set. For example, if someone tells you the summary of a story, you will take away the key message of that story. But when someone narrates the same story to you, you take away a lot more. It is because you connect with a story at multiple levels. Seeing a role model in action is like reading a story in all its details. It helps you pick up a rich and detailed understanding that is not otherwise possible to grasp.
6. A Role Model Can Become A Mentor Or An Advocate For You:
A role model who can inspire you can also become a mentor for you. I have known many people who have found mentors this way. They started out by learning from their role model, and that attempt led to the development of a mentor-mentee relationship over time. If you are lucky and things go well, a mentor can become a forceful advocate for you too. In organizations, advocates and mentors can help you accelerate your career in ways most people cannot imagine.
Although finding role models is a great way to accelerate your path to your career goals, you need to be aware of a common mistake in using role models. While a role model can provide a template for success, do not try a copy-paste exercise with role models. What this means is do not try to become exactly like your role models. This can backfire, especially when your personality is quite different from that of your role model.
I will share an example. When I started teaching as a professor, I wanted to find others who did a great job in teaching. So I found a list of people who were excellent in the classroom. Then I attended their classes to learn from them. Unknowingly, I first tried to emulate others. It was a mistake because I couldn’t always carry out what someone else was doing well. When I realized this error, I began to find my own voice and style. Once I leveraged my natural abilities, knowledge, and style, I started to excel in the classroom.
The key learning for me was that a role model is a great way to learn what makes one effective and successful, but I need to be wary of forcing someone else’s style on myself. You may want to adapt the template your role model provides you too.
A role model is an excellent accelerator for your career progress. It not only helps you visualize your success better but also provides a template for success. You just need to adapt that template to your personality and natural skills to get the most out of it.