who do you look up to?

As we go through life, it’s easy to lose perspective as we get pulled in different directions and to get distanced away from our top priorities. Whether it be tackling our own emotions and personal challenges, navigating technological platforms and devices, or engaging in interactions with the different people that we come across in our everyday life, it’s important that we cultivate awareness and righteousness in our words, behaviors, and actions.

This is where having a North Star — a role model who we admire and draw inspiration from — can be a game-changer for us. Having someone who we look up to can help us stay centered and on track when we find ourselves lost or losing steam, or engulfed in inertia and negativity.

We all need a beacon that points us in the right direction, a ruler that we keep measuring ourselves against. As Seneca wrote in one of his letters to his friend, “Choose someone whose way of life as well as words, and whose very face as mirroring the character that lies behind it, have won your approval. Be always pointing him out to yourself either as your guardian or as your model. There is a need, in my view, for someone as a standard against which our characters can measure themselves. Without a ruler to do it against you won’t make crooked straight.” 

So ask yourself today: Who is someone that you look up to? Who is your beacon, your North Star? Who is the person who not only keeps you well-grounded in your values, but also inspires you to grow and become the best version of yourself?  

And when you come up with the name or image of that person who deeply inspires you and who you connect with, your next step is to create reminders that you see on a daily basis. This is incredibly important to keep this person always in your line of vision and to keep the flame of their inspiration and example burning within you constantly. This reminder can be anything — a photo, a painting, a tattoo, a bust or a statue on your desk. It’s up to you.

As Seneca suggests, we can all have a figure like Cato — someone who’s noble and great — who can help us guide our actions and who refines our approach to life as it comes, even if they’re not physically present with us. 

Whenever you face a moral dilemma or find yourself in a challenging spot, you can simply ask yourself, “What would _________ do?” in that particular circumstance as your virtue and character compass to take the right kind of actions. 

Struggling and working hard to live up to your role model’s standards will be far from easy, but it will help you navigate the treacherous currents of life and keep you anchored no matter what you face.