What to Look For in your Professional Role Models

What to Look For in your Professional Role Models

If you are lucky enough to find someone out there who is doing what you want to do in your own professional life – congrats! This discovery will be incredibly helpful for you! But before you go dashing out the door to try to imitate someone else or handing them your credit card in exchange for their secret recipe, you need to look critically at their business models and their lives.

I have found that many “successful” business people, behind the manic smiles, are chronically over-scheduled, anxious, and discontent. You are after something better: a successful professional life and a successful life outside of your profession. The decisions you make for one will absolutely affect the other.

Hikers in the dark with headlamps.
The right path isn’t always easy to see; make sure you’re following the right people.

So when you come across someone who you are considering giving role model status in your professional life, learn everything you can about them first.

Find out how this business-savvy person is treating their employees. How well do they pay? Do they value their employees’ work-life balance? Or do they think of their employees as just another number subtracted from their own bottom line? If they aren’t taking good care of their employees, their business model sucks.

Find out about the out-of-office time that they are spending on their business. Let’s say they spend a huge amount of time every week commuting between office locations and don’t feel they have enough time to exercise or eat healthfully (let’s be honest, this is true for many if not most modern professionals)… But you know that long commutes have been proven to make us unhappy, and you want to stay active and fit and not sit on your butt a lot… then I don’t care how much their business generates – that model is probably not for you.

Find out how they manage their personal finances in addition to their business finances. Do you really want to take business advice from someone who is living paycheck to giant paycheck and is over-leveraged on their mortgage? If they are decades older than you and have made millions in the course of their career and are now lecturing around the country about their great professional awesomeness but have no idea when or how they will be able to retire, please keep looking

Find out about their relationships outside work. Hint: if they are on their third marriage and they rarely see their kids but you want a healthy family life, you should keep looking.

And if you think I’m making up the above examples of what to watch out for in your role model candidates: they are all real – direct from my own experience being on the receiving end of advice (and attempts to sell me things).

No one is perfect. But we’re talking about your role models here. The whole point is that they be people you admire and respect on more than a superficial level. You need to look for role models whose life choices hold up under scrutiny. You need to watch out for the above red flags when people are telling you how to conduct your professional life.

Please don’t think you can separate the components of work and life out from each other in your quest for a successful career and a physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy life outside of the office. These things are all are all intensely intertwined.

Comments are closed.