The interesting case of role models

Part of the New Guinea Commerce Winners Don’t Cheat Series.

By Sean Jacobs

For young people, role models can be powerful and inspirational figures. They help us to look down the road and see what it takes to reach the high plateaus of success.

Around three years out of high school, when just starting my undergraduate degree, I finally stumbled on the realisation that, to get ahead, I had to actually get better. This may seem obvious but it meant more than I anticipated – I had to improve my writing, listening and presentation skills. This, in turn, meant I had to get better at attention to detail, concentrate harder and be better organised.

This was helped considerably by ‘thinking with the end in mind’ and looking closely at the achievements of successful people. What characteristics did they exhibit? What did they do to get ahead?

But I didn’t set my sights on the Richard Bransons or the Bill Gates of the world – I examined relatively quiet achievers like White House Fellows, the candidates of the most competitive graduate programs and people close to me that had done well. All toiled away without the glare of the public spotlight. Their lessons were clear: apply yourself, achieve fine benchmarks and build skills. Doors open just that little bit further, it seems, when you do these things.

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