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Who Are Your Role Models' Role Models

Who Are Your Role Models' Role Models

Role models are interesting phenomena.  Many girls look up to their moms for their strength, sense of self and sense of style.  I know I do.  But many of us also have role models outside of our immediate circles - people that we look up to and whose lives represent a blueprint of sorts for how we want to build our own.

Over the years I've spent time learning about my role models.  I've always been curious about what makes them tick, what drives them, what are their views on success and hard work and failure.  I usually focus so much on the what, when, and why, but one HUGE oversight has been my lack of focus on the "who".  All that changed a few months ago when I decided to set aside time to learn about my role models' role models.  

For me, it was satisfying to understand my role models' thoughts on various topics, their routines, their values and more, but it was a true eye opener to then find out the people upon whose shoulders they stood, and then learn as much about those people as possible.  One of my role models is Oprah Winfrey.  Oprah's role model is Maya Angelou.  So I made it my business to start learning more about Maya Angelou beyond the pages and pages of her works that I've read.  And just to make the exercise even more interesting, I decided to find out who Ms. Angelou considered her role models.  There were at least three (her paternal grandmother, her birth mother, and a woman named Mrs. Flowers) and all three were described in great detail in Angelou's autobiographical masterpiece, "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings". Now of course, taking this exercise to its next degree would take some time and may even wind up in a dead end, but there is a significant and powerful message to glean from this process: if you look hard enough, you will find that each one of our lives is impacted to some degree by the essence and/or experiences of someone else, which in turn creates a beautiful web of connection. 

I thought it would be interesting to look into who some of the most influential women of our time credit as role models in their lives and what they have said about them. In sharing this with you all, I hope to encourage you to look at who is responsible for your role model being who he or she is and learning as much as you can about that person.

Sheryl Sandberg: (Role Models - her mom and Mark Zuckerberg).  About her mom: “My mom is the most giving woman in the whole world who has done more for me and everyone else around her than anyone I’ve ever met.” About Zuckerberg: “Mark looked at me six months into the job five years ago, and said, ‘Sheryl, you care too much about being liked. You are trying to please everyone all day long and you can’t do it. And if you never say anything that anyone disagrees with, you’re not going to say anything at all.’”

Michelle Obama: (Role Model - Hillary Clinton). About Clinton: “I don’t think she realizes how what she has done has made what I am doing partially possible....[S]o with all the respect and admiration that I can give to her, I will be wherever she needs me to be, whenever she needs me to be there.”

Oprah Winfrey: (Role Model - Maya Angelou).  About Angelou: “Over the years, she has taught me some of the most profound lessons of my life: that when we know better, we do better; that to love someone is to liberate, not possess, them; that negative words have the power to seep into the furniture and into our skin; that we should be grateful even for our trials. She calls me her darling girl, and I call her my mother-sister-friend. And as I soak up her wisdom and marvel at her stamina, I bask in the pure, contagious joy she takes in living.”

Meryl Streep:  (Role Model - unknown but she is often cited as being others' role model).  On role models: “I think the best role models for women are people who are fruitfully and confidently themselves, who bring light into the world.”

Serena Williams: (Role Model - Venus Williams).  About Venus after having won a record 23rd Major title: "There's no way I would be at 23 without her — there's no way I would be at one without her. Thank you Venus for inspiring me to be the best player I can be and inspiring me to work hard."  On the biggest influences in her life: watch this.

Who are your role models?  I would love to know more about who inspires you!


Featured Photo: London Scout

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