By Team Elektra
“Be who you needed when you were younger.”
Role Models are all around us. They are friends, peers, people a step ahead in life, and those with years of experience. For as much as we would like to handle life on our own, we need role models to guide the way and push us towards our own form of excellence. I have found that the best examples of role models are those that exemplify the qualities that we want to achieve in life; that is why we look up to them.
In LDP, we try our best as mentors to be role models to our mentees by “Modeling the Way.” This is an exemplary practice from The Leadership Challenge, an incredible book that states that being a leader starts by holding yourself to any standard that you would potentially hold your team to.
My professional mentor, JR McGee, is a role model to me, as his actions match his words. He is contentious and dedicated, while also being a strong-willed man that will fight to hold true to the ideals he believes in. During the service project last Team Week, JR pushed himself further than any other member. He did this while still caring for the growth of our new team members when they started to feel overwhelmed. I look at those qualities and I see the practical ways in which he lives them out; the ways that I can live them out. I hope in the same way that he exemplifies a lifestyle that I want to work towards, that I can model the way for my mentees as they continue to learn about the practices that the LDP teaches.
When I think about role models I have quite a few exceptional people that come to mind. From my father to my great grandpa and my great-uncle, all are great in their own ways. Perhaps the most unique of those would be my Uncle, Robert Eigelberger. He is a former St. Louis developer, and now a famous historic preservationist in the town of
Palm Beach, Florida.
Drive through the now glamorous island and you’ll see houses and compounds with an average price of over $1 million. But when ‘Uncle Bob’, as his closest friend call him, first arrived on the island, it was little more than a run-down coastal island. That’s when he took it upon himself to make the island what it is. Using his sense of ingenuity and spunk, he created a historic yet timeless look that remains on many of the island’s most iconic structures. It is almost impossible to envision how he managed this, knowing that he came from so little.
Robert worked himself up to obtain degrees in Financial Sciences and Economics from Mizzou and The University of Missouri at St. Louis. Using this knowledge to fund his passion in creativity and design. In my eyes this is something I strive for every day; finding that passion in life and just running with it. Of all the things he has taught me on my many trips to Palm Beach, the one that sticks with me to this day is to always be yourself. Be loud, be proud, and be sure to pursue your dreams to your fullest extent.
When others ask me who my role model is, I find myself unable to pinpoint just one. In my mind, a role model is anyone that, when you find yourself unsure of a situation, you can ask yourself, “What would X do/not do?” Every leader that I’ve ever interacted with has fit that definition. After all, if it takes a village to raise a child, would it not take a village to raise a leader? Every leader has a lesson to offer you, whether you think the world of them or try to avoid thinking of them at all.
Who HASN’T found themselves in a position underneath a leader that they found, shall we say, unfit for their role? Everyone has met many leaders throughout their lives. Some are the embodiment of excellence, while others fall short of their followers’ expectations. For most of us, the great leaders become the role models that we reference when deciding what actions we should take as leaders- no, as people. Something that few people think of, though, is that our interactions with bad leaders influence how we act as leaders just as much as the great leaders.
I have flaws, and they cause me to make mistakes at some points in my life. To help myself limit those mistakes, more often than not, I find myself thinking of the poor leaders that I have worked under. I consider how their actions negatively affected me, and how I can avoid causing others to suffer the same fate. This thought process helps me to help those that follow me in the ways that I needed when I was younger. So, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who taught me what to do as a leader and, just as importantly, what not to do.