Role models and mentors can show up in many different ways — you don’t even have to know them or have ever met them. The trick is to really identify what you want and the lifestyle you want to lead and find the people who are doing just that.

I don’t consider myself an expert in many things, but there is one thing I do exceptionally well, and that is follow a model. We’ve all heard it before: We’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Our income, our health habits, our growth mindset, are all directly impacted by those we surround ourselves with — and that extends to our role models and mentors, too.

I consider a traditional mentor someone who is guiding you along your career path, coaching you through big life decisions and providing you with advice specific to your business or career. But role models and mentors can show up in many different ways. You don’t even have to know them or have ever met them!

Let me explain. Mentoring or being a role model isn’t always about regular coffee dates or paid coaching calls.

If you’re looking for a mentor in your life, all you have to do is open Instagram, pick up a great autobiography from your local bookstore or attend a conference. It’s about finding the people (who you may know personally or not) who are truly living the life that you want in these six categories: financial, business, career, personal, physical and spiritual.

It’s about following what they do and then implementing it. If you want to be a thought leader and motivational speaker then you might follow everything Tony Robbins does — reading his books, watching his videos and attending live events.

Not your style? Then maybe you follow Marie Forleo, and do what she does. If you want to build an investment portfolio, then perhaps you read, listen to and watch what Ray Dalio and Warren Buffet do. Regardless of what area you want to work on, there is a mentor and a role model for you.

The trick is to really identify what you want and the lifestyle you want to lead, and then find the people who are doing that. Quick warning here: Be careful who you take advice from.

For example, I wouldn’t recommend following someone who is a single narcissistic workaholic just because they make a lot of money. That is, if your ultimate goal is to be financially wealthy and have a fun and fulfilling family life.

You also don’t want to follow people who haven’t really done what you want to do. People love to give advice, but are they following it themselves? If not, move on. Fast!

So why are people looking for a mentor or role model in the first place? I think it boils down to a couple of things. They are looking for proof that it’s possible to achieve the things they want in life (money, travel, freedom, a family, writing a book or whatever else).

I think people are also craving growth and want to be inspired by someone to change their thinking and habits. But here’s what mentors are not: They are not miracle workers. They are not going to do the work for you, and they don’t always have the answers. However, they just might give you enough inspiration to change your life forever.

My mentors and role models range from people I see regularly to people I only talk to on the phone once a month to people I’ve only “met” by listening to their podcast. They all provide incredible value to my life, and I can only hope to do the same in return over time. Here are a few of my mentors and role models:

  • Dr. Smith: Spiritual mentor, specifically in Transcendental Meditation (TM).
  • Gary Keller: Mentor in all areas of life.
  • Tony Robbins: Role model for inspiration and energy.
  • John Spinney: Physical mentor and coach
  • Ray Dalio: Mentor for business, spiritual (Ray also practices TM) role model and role model for principles on life and work.
  • Warren Buffett: Role model for business and investment philosophy. (My particular favorite: “Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.”)
  • Wim Hof: Physical and spiritual role model.

What about you? Who are you role modeling your life after?

Let’s take it a step further. Who are you a mentor and role model for? Whether you want to be or not, someone is watching what you do and how you show up each day.

It could be your children, your employee or co-worker or a Realtor at a competing firm. Are you providing value to those around you? Are you serving your team and community? Are you leading yourself first? Being a role model is not a responsibility that you or I should take lightly.

I strive to be a good role model in all that I do. I don’t always get it right, but I always learn. Authentic and transparent leadership (and being a role model) goes a long way. Fifty percent of people are going to love you, and 50 percent of people are going to hate you, but that’s when you know you’re operating from your truth.

That’s what I want in a role model — someone who is unapologetically themselves so that I can choose whether or not I want to dive in and model my life after theirs.

Success leaves clues and finding a good role model is like hitting the jackpot. Role model your way to success, and while you’re at it, be a role model for someone else.

 Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Adam Hergenrother Companies, the author of The Founder & The Force Multiplier, and the host of the podcast, Business Meets Spirituality. Learn more about Adam’s holistic approach to business here.

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