Geek Job Guru: Don’t Take Your Role Model Personally


Role Model

I’m a big advocate of having role models in your career (and for that matter, anything else). Role models provide people you can relate to, so you can understand them on an almost instinctive level, and then emulate what they did right. Role models show that success is possible so you can keep motivated and keep reaching even when you’re at your lowest. Role models show specific paths to success that you can follow.

Best of all, people who know they’re Role Models give actual, useful advice, write books, and so on.  A good Role Model may be such an information font they’re a kind of Orbital Bombardment of wisdom.

We geeks are often blessed with role models, and it’s a big part of geek culture. – I think because a lot of geek culture is achievement/activity based. There are people we look up to and admire, who inspire us. We can meet them at conventions, buy their biographies, and surf the internet to learn more about them. Rare indeed is the convention guest who at some point is asked about job options, or the head of a website or Maker Group who doesn’t end up providing career advice.

As much as I’m an advocate of using Role Models, I’d like to note their limits. No matter how good a Role Model someone is – and you can probably find several in your life – they have a limit.

Their limit is they’re a unique individual.

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Role Models and The Power Of Mistakes

Role Models.  We look to them to guide us with the examples of their lives.  We look to them to inspire us with their stories of success.  We look to them to to remind us of our potential.

They also help remind us about screwing up.

If you have a good Role Model, it's important to look at them and learn from their mistakes.  They probably have a spectacular amount of them if you only look.

The great blunders of our Role Models are important because:

  1. They remind us our Role Models are humans, just like us.  Realizing that helps us see them as people.  When we see them as people we relate to them better, learn from them better, and also treat them better.
  2. They teach us just how common making mistakes is.  It's too easy to forget just how often all of us create absolutely spectacular messes of our lives.  Remembering that keeps us from being to harsh on ourselves.
  3. They teach us how to recover from our foul-ups.  In fact, they remind us of how it is possible to recover from truly wondrous blunders.
  4. They keep us humble.  If those we admire can mess up, it reminds us how we too can make mistakes.

So next time you're looking up to that Role Model, look down a bit and see the mountain of mistakes, the fields of foul-ups, the sea of screw-ups, at their feet.  It'll help you a great deal.

– Steven Savage

Your Greatness Is Your Own

As I've always noted, it's important to have role models.  We need people to look up to, to be like, to remind us of what we can do, and to give us ideas of how to be better than we are.  We're social animals, we humans, and we work well with other people as references.

One of the great things about being a fanboy, fangirl, geek, otaku, etc. is that we usually have a lot of great role models and access to them.  Media fans have the actors, writers, editors, and so on to look up to.  Game fans have the programmers and producers to learn from.  Comic geeks have artists and writers and publishers.  When your geekery and your professional ambitions come together, you find yourself surrounded by people you can – and may want to – be like.

There is one thing you have to keep in mind however: You're never going to be successful like your role models.

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