There is a common trait that swallows men up and spits them out as they grow older; it’s called complacency. You don’t often find complacency in young people because they have no presumption of knowing anything at all. But as we pick up a few tricks and learn to care for our families and ourselves, we have a tendency to go through the motions without adopting new beliefs and behaviors. But simply existing isn’t enough; we need to be inspired to grow, to learn, and to show off new tricks. Reinventing ourselves helps us to feel like men and inspire others to grow, and role models help us along this path.
Many of the men we admired as youth have fallen from grace and wrecked the idea of looking up to others. Prominent figures like Tiger Woods, Mel Gibson, Kobe Bryant, and many more have betrayed the trust of admirers with bad behavior. But men need role strong role models to inspire the best of their own behavior and to spark innovation. Where many of our popular role models have let us down, here are three men you can count on for a solid example of how good men can be.
1. William Ury
William Ury is a co-founder of the Harvard Program on Negotiation, founder of The Third Side, and a co-founder of the Abraham Path, a cultural initiative to connect people in the Middle East through story and shared history. He is an anthropologist by training, but developed his career as a conflict negotiation specialist. He has successfully negotiated violent disputes in the Middle East, the former Soviet Union and the Balkans, and has even teamed up with President Jimmy Carter to cofound an international negotiation body aimed at preventing civil war.
Ury is a passionate and relatable guy that every man could emulate with profit; you’ll always see him with a brilliant smile and and generous words for others. He has authored four bestselling books that help everyone from parents to presidents navigate their conflicts with greater success. Ury is one of the greatest living examples that good guys come out on top, and that peace is worth caring for.
“I have come to the conclusion that the greatest obstacle to getting what we really want in life is not the other party, as difficult as he or she can be. The biggest obstacle is actually ourselves,” Ury says.
2. Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins is the proverbial “man’s man.” He towers at 6-foot-7, has hands that can palm your face, a voice that sounds like he ate a mountain for breakfast, and the heart of a lion. Robbins started his career in self-help after a rocky childhood and rose to the highest echelons in humanitarianism and peace negotiation, serving as Vice Chairman for the International Council for Caring Communities. He has consulted with the likes of Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Princess Diana while helping business executives and countless people achieve peak performance in their lives.
Robbins has been married for the last 15 years and takes great pride in his committed love. Though he is twice married, Robbins stayed in his first marriage until his children were grown, which is a huge token of sacrificial love. Robbins has one of the most popular TED talks in history, in which he discusses the reasons why we do what we do. If you aren’t sold on this strong role model after the TED presentation, check out his discussion with Tim Ferriss on everything from peak performance to risk minimization and maximum financial success.
The Tim Ferriss interview reveals an off-the-cuff and hilarious aspect of Robbins that will endear you to his philosophies and purpose. Check out Robbins’s award-winning books to get to know the man better, and to dramatically improve your success habits. Robbins’s practical advice in striving for and achieving goals is unparalleled, and if you get to know more about the man, he can help you reach far beyond what you thought was possible.
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible,” Robbins says.
3. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant, famed professional basketball star for the Oklahoma City Thunder, is a well-rounded and generous man who people of all ages can look to for inspiration. Durant was the youngest player to ever win the scoring title in the NBA and has since won it three more times, along with an MVP award. In 2012, Durant led one of the youngest teams in NBA history to the finals, where the were eventually bested by the Miami Heat.
Though a force to be reckoned with on the court (6-foot-9 and 240 pounds), Durant’s NBA career pales in comparison to the extraordinary deeds he has done for his community. After the May 2013 F5 tornado in Moore, Okla., Durant donated $1 million to the relief effort. As if that wasn’t enough, Kevin’s effort prompted the OKC Thunder organization to match his donation, then the entire NBA pooled together to match. After going to view the damage firsthand, KD solicited a $1 million donation from Nike, his sponsor.
KD is the founder of the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation, which an athletic and educational program designed to improve the lives of at-risk youth in society. He has helped to establish basketball courts in low income areas, and also routinely surprises Oklahoma City locals with his thoughtfulness and kindheartedness.
Even the oldest living men have role models in the great men throughout history, so don’t feel silly for looking up and admiring great men. You’ll find yourself with inspiration and encouragement to accomplish the impossible in your life, and as you walk that path, you’ll be an important role model for countless young men in your life.
Tune in for next week’s article on great role models from history.