One of my favorite questions, during a long road trip or waiting for the food to arrive, is “what are your top five movies?” It’s a fun (if at times disturbing) way to get a snapshot of someone’s tastes and influences.

Another one, which I use in coaching but have also sprung on unassuming friends, is “name three role models”. That is, who are three people – famous or totally unknown – who have had a profound, positive impact on your life and inspire you?

The idea is to observe what it is about those people that draws you to them. This helps you clarify the direction you want to take, or the kind of qualities you want to develop.

The question – who do you admire? – often leaves people stumped. Especially on the spot, it can be hard to come up with three people, or even one person, who epitomize what you aspire to be.

Keep in mind that having role models doesn’t mean that you put these people on a pedestal or assume they are flawless, angelic beings. It’s about articulating the specific qualities they possess, and looking at how you can develop those qualities in yourself.

If they help people, what can you do to help people too?

If they’re successful, what does success mean to you and how can you go about achieving this?

If they’re creative, how can you experience more creativity?

Start out looking at who you admired as a kid or teenager. The posters you had on your wall, or the articles you clipped from magazines: who rocked your world?

When I was a kid/teen, it ran something like this:

–    anyone saving pandas in China (I was panda obsessed for years, clipping endless articles and pictures)

–    Icelandic musician Björk, who was fiercely unusual, creative and feminist – and a long way from countryside Australia, where I grew up

–    poet Emily Dickinson, whose work inspired my teen-angst-ridden poetry

–    an array of authors, including Tim Winton, Graham Swift, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, John Steinbeck and Julian Barnes

These days, my list runs to Alan Watts, Kathryn Budig, Flume, Mick Fanning, Tami Simon, a number of close wonderful friends including my sister, and a bunch of others depending on my mood and focus.

Sometimes I jot a few names down – a temporary top three – and then write down one quality they have that resonates with me. I use this as inspiration to guide my decisions and improve the sense of living an authentic and meaningful life.

Curious how coaching can help you change your life? Contact me for a free, no-obligation initial session right now!