If You Can’t be a Role Model, be a Bad Example 1

By Chris Simmons

It was a snowy day in Sarajevo as one of my mentors, a brilliant man named Colonel Rik Krauss, discussed recent leadership challenges with me. To illustrate one of his points, he commented, “If you can’t be a Role Model, be a Bad Example.” We laughed at the humor and accuracy of his assessment. Continuing, he observed that “Bad Examples” are actually negative role models. As such, they are teachers. From them we learn what we DON’T want to be/do.

He then noted that being a role model is never a choice. Everyone is a role model to someone. Equally important, he said, “the people to whom you are a mentor are always watching — a mentor is never off the clock.”

Editor’s Note:  Deeper development of the role of negative role models can be found in the July 11th post, “Why Enemies Are more Important Than Friends.”

One comment

  1. Excellent. It explains why a novel about a screwball is more than entertaining. The trick is to execute well as an author while the main-character, the alter-ego on the page, is a philandering bum or worse. Even if one is writing in “the zone”, form must be maintained. By intuition. By training. By a combination of both if one has endured the traumas that come with life and demand rehabilitation.

    Which brings me to another point. Too many epic screwballs, with vast experience, shut-down after moral rehabilitation. They lose natural rhythm. They become bores. And if they do tell stories, they censor the fun stuff that gets the adrenaline going and dilates the mind.

    As you know from interrogating prisoners, “the other side” has its lure and logic. No man can tell a great instructive tale without giving the devil his due. There’s much to be said for the bad example.

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