Searching For Role Models

Role-models-wanted-coaching-inspires-300x246In a week like no other in recent memory, we have seen horrendous bloody images daily of devastation and death around the world caused by radical terrorists: the bombing at the Istanbul airport, killing 45 and maiming many more; the stabbing death of an American-Israeli teenager sleeping in her bed in Israel; the cold-blooded shooting and murder of 20 at a restaurant in the capital of Bangladesh; the suicide bombing in a Baghdad marketplace, killing over 200 souls; suicide bombs exploding in attacks at three different cities in Saudi Arabia, killing at least 4.

With the militant jihadist group ISIS claiming responsibility for most of the attacks, these radical fanatics are creating havoc, terrorizing innocents and generating anxiety in the U.S. and around the world.

And the Presidential elections have not dampened Americans’ sense of angst either. With national conventions taking place later this month, a poll this past week by USA Today asked respondents how they feel about the election – and a whopping 61% indicated, ‘Alarmed.’ With U.S. voters having greater unfavorable than positive opinions of both Presidential candidates, the electorate hasn’t found much in either of them to serve as a role model for themselves or their children.

Whom can we look to, then, to relieve the tensions and serve as symbols of reassurance? Where are the examples of ideals and guiding principles we try to set for our families? The death this weekend of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel has robbed us of one such exemplary icon, who advised us: Whatever you do in life, think higher and feel deeper. 

Here at, there are others we’ve written about for you to look to in times of fear. Our role models have ranged from Presidents to academics to sports figures to captains to family members in your own back yard. Here are a few to consider as you clink on the links to read more about the qualities they embody:

Mount Rushmore memorializes Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt. These men reflect goals to strive for – courage, freedom, compassion and conservation, among others. And you don’t need to be a President to recognize the importance of living each day fully, struggling to achieve your dreams and expressing gratitude for the gifts you have been given – as Randy Pausch proved in The Last Lecture.

Legendary U.C.L.A. basketball coach John Wooden was known for his inspiration and motivation, on and off the court. His philosophy of life – as well as his entire persona – exemplified the values we wish to impart to our children. His style was gracious, even as he focused on creating Competitive Greatness in his players and in the rest of us, through his Pyramid of Success.

As Rio de Janeiro prepares to host the Olympics next month, we are reminded of the female athletes serving as role models during past Olympics in London and Beijing.   For the first time in Olympic history, in London women competed from all represented countries – and there were more women than men on the United States team. The strengths they gained from years of hard work and dedication illustrate many character virtues. Stories from Beijing highlight the courage and resolve of the mothers of the world – as they demonstrated their athletic prowess and won gold and silver medals.

Bravery and humility – often at the heart of fairy tales – are qualities that can inspire all of us to be the best that we can be. And, with the doom and gloom of the world turmoil, people want to feel hopeful again. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III, soon to be the subject of a movie by Clint Eastwood starting Tom Hanks, calmly and safely landed a disabled plane in the Hudson River, making sure that everyone survived.

The final game of the Women’s World Cup was the most viewed soccer game in the United States, with 25 million watching it on TV. When the American women’s soccer team won, it was a cause for celebration throughout the country including the first ever ticker tape parade in New York for a team of female athletes. They won by implementing their team values of respect, determination, cooperation, generosity and trust.

Captain Richard Phillips, already played by Tom Hanks in a feature film, acted heroically when Somali pirates attacked his ship. He surrendered himself as a hostage while protecting the crew from a similar fate. The President said his demonstration of courage was “a model for all Americans.” We join in admiring his unique combination of integrity, professional training and bravery.

And if you want your children to have a good example of these qualities in your own home, model for them how you solve problems, admit your mistakes, take care of yourself and show respect for those around you. You’ll be creating a positive environment in which they can grow and mature.

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