Praise be for rough-edged role models

Polished professionals, business behemoths and the fabulously famous don’t mean diddly squat to me.

Well okay then, I might make an exception for David Bowie, but when it comes to role models, whether in business, personal or social life, I like mine real, and preferably with a few rough edges.

Because for me, fame doesn’t guarantee greatness. Far from it. But then again I’m old school when it comes to criteria for admiration and aspiration.

After fifteen years in the media, you’ll excuse me if I’m a bit jaded and cynical at what and who passes for a role model in this chaotic century. Fame has become the aspiration of choice for so many, but fails to fulfil on many, many levels. This is not to say I don’t have great admiration for some who are justly famous, there are plenty who have earned their elevation, in spades (Maya Angelou, anyone?).

But casual celebrities and fame flash in the pans just don’t fit my formula for veneration and aspiration. Reality TV starlets and B list female magazine fodder just don’t cut it when it comes to my role model ready reckoner. (Although I will admit that I kinda like that chanteuse with the 40s hairdo and natty retro spex on The Voice, but she’s far from making it to Mairi’s Most Influential yearbook…).

Ditto the megaliths of modern commerce. Yes, I know Steve Jobs was epic, awesome and appsolutely amazing; I know Bill Gates might save the world (as well as having invented kinda useful technology); I can hear the very evangelism of the Branson branding. I get it, I really do, these folks are incredible, but they’re not my commercial role models of choice.

That vote goes to the myriad small business people I’ve met in recent months who have earned my undying admiration. Big respect to those who work like Trojans, who find time to lend an ear, offer some help, lead the way, set an example. These are the grafters, the problem solvers, and the jugglers. These are the folks who are doing it for love, for their families, and for self-fulfilment. And don’t knock it, self-fulfilment is a lot less fickle than fame.

I look up to those who behave with humanity, humility and humour – I just love those who can laugh when it’s all going a bit Pete Tong! I have boundless admiration for those working in commerce, or anywhere else, who offer that bit extra value added compassion and care.

Perhaps it signals lack of ambition on my part (tho ambition might, just might, be over-rated anyway. But that’s for another blog, another day), but I’ll continue to reserve my admiration for a veritable pick’n’mix of mentors and role models.

They’ve been specially selected from a wide spectrum of disciplines – everything from pop to politics, business, broadcasting, literature and leadership – but for me, they’ve all got the edge. It’s a rough edge, but that’s why I love ’em so. They’re not up their own jacksies, they’re not seeking unconditional adoration, and they’ve all got heart.

Now that what I call a role model.