The Importance of Role Models in Encouraging Success

People often ask me what I consider to be the secret to success. Of course, the question is overly simplistic — there are plenty of factors that go into an entrepreneur’s success. That said, I do think there are a few key components that contribute to the work of the many successful business leaders I know. Today, I want to talk about one such component that’s near and dear to my heart — the importance of having a good role model. Below I’ll outline the impact that a good role model can have and how role models have motivated me in my own career.

Modeling persistence

One of the key things that a good role model can do for others is model persistence. We have an idea in our society that successful individuals are somehow innately blessed or lucky and happen into their careers through a relatively straightforward and short process. This, in most cases, couldn’t be further from the truth. By contrast, the lives of some of the world’s most successful people are often full of adversity and include a litany of efforts to overcome their challenges.

The problem is, if we buy into the popularized viewpoint of success being the purview of the select “lucky” few, then we rob ourselves of the chance to experience it in our own lives. One of the primary ways we can help to dispel this notion of the easy ascension to success is by looking to someone whose career we admire. Often, that career will be peppered with challenges and examples of them overcoming what life has thrown at them.

To be most effective in this area, a good role model might have experienced some of the same challenges as the person who’s looking up to them. If we can see our struggles mirrored in someone else, and see how they’ve been able to overcome them, then it makes it that much easier for us to see our path forward in our own work.

Validating life choices

Individuals who find success at the highest levels of society often make some extreme life choices. Look to the daily routine of any high-powered entrepreneur and you’ll often see someone who works long hours, gets up early, goes to bed late, and generally makes their career a major focus of their life. While this lifestyle certainly isn’t for everyone, it does scratch the itch of some people who are motivated to make their mark on the world.

Such a lifestyle, however, can be difficult to commit to if you don’t have any examples of it paying off in the lives of others. If you’re off on your own throwing yourself into your work and you don’t have any evidence that it could pay off, it’s easy for doubts to creep in. You might think that your actions are excessive or overly focused on an end goal. You might fear failure and the devastation that could come from realizing you went about things in the “wrong” way.

There’s a number of ways these worries can manifest. But it can be incredibly validating to see your life choices mirrored in the life of someone you admire. It helps to know that, regardless of your level of success, you can find peace in the idea that you gave it your all in a way that made sense.

My own role model

To give an example that illustrates the points above, I wanted to mention a person who’s been hugely motivational in my own life. Given that I’m an inventor and so much of my work stems from the innovation of new products, it’s perhaps unsurprising that I’ve long admired the professional work of Thomas Edison since I was a young boy. In fact, I first began seriously considering a career as an inventor when I was a child and visiting the Edison museum. The inventor’s indelible mark on society made a lasting impression on a youthful me and solidified my decision to make a mark of my own.

The example set by Edison has moved me again and again in my career. It has pushed me to stay committed to my goals, even when success seemed difficult to imagine, let alone achieve. It has motivated me to innovate broadly, knowing that much of the famous inventor’s success comes from his wide range of insights. It’s also helped remind me that the ultimate goal of an entrepreneur is to leave a lasting, positive impact on society. I truly believe that’s what we’re doing through our work at LifeWave.

There’s a lot that goes into the creation of a successful entrepreneur. There are business considerations, strategies, lifestyle choices, and plenty of other factors that serve to keep us awake at night. These things are all important in their own way, but the value of a role model is truly priceless. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to discover who your role model is, learn from their successes and their mistakes, and set out on your own path to build your career.

David Schmidt is the CEO of LifeWave, a leading health and wellness company he founded in 2002. More about David Schmidt at