John Keating, Dead Poets Society
Yes, he is a fictional character, but he embodies so many attributes that I admire. He challenges the mainstream by redefining “knowledge”, he inspires his students to live in the now (carpe diem), and he uses poetry to emphasize the messages of the heart instead of the head.
His method of teaching was criticized and the fear of his viewpoint eventually led to his dismissal, but he stayed true to what he knew. And it inspired his students to wake up, possibly for the first time in their lives (O Captain!, My Captain!). The picture below sits at the top of my vision board.
When I first started watching Season 8 of American Idol, he wasn’t my favorite. He caught my attention near the end when he really took some risks and demonstrated a unique musical sensibility. And it wasn’t just his singing voice that won me over - it was his humility, his ability to hear criticism, his respect for the other contestants and his respect for himself.
Visually and vocally he is somewhat of a rebel, but when he sits down for an interview he is down to earth, compassionate, and unassuming. Not sure how far he will go in his career, but I can’t help but watch and cheer him on. His ability to claim his style, sexuality, and sound inspires me – he’s taught me a lot about acceptance and authenticity. Click here to see Adam at his best.
Most of her stand-up routines are cringe-worthy, I can’t believe what she says sometimes, but that’s why she fascinates me. She’s a beautiful woman with a potty mouth – unafraid, honest, and willing to deal with the consequences.
While I don’t always agree with her, she reminds me what it looks like to be fearless. Sometimes when I’m challenged with someone or something I think to myself, Sarah Silverman wouldn’t let this bother her…she’d deal with it head on and tell it like it is… and that thought motivates me to be brave and truthful (but not quite as vulgar). Click here to see Sarah at her best.
It’s one thing to be very smart; it’s another thing to be a very smart fake news anchor with great comedic timing. Jon Stewart is my savior when it comes to the news of the world - so much of what I hear, read, and see in the news bothers me tremendously, but he offers me new perspective, a way to view it with humor and irony, and even sometimes, hope.
His show wouldn’t work if he and his writers weren’t brilliant – you can’t point out what’s wrong in the world unless you truly understand what is going on in the world. Sometimes I imagine sitting down and talking with him for hours - if I could have a magical dinner party, he would be top of the list.
I guess this one’s not surprising, but there is no way she could be left off this list. Watching Oprah’s long-running show was like school for me, and she made so many other teachers accessible - Tony Robbins, Martha Beck, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hahn, and Elizabeth Lesser are just some of the pioneers who shared their wisdom through Oprah’s radio channel, network, and magazine. She’s made spirituality mainstream and helped people understand its true definition: self understanding and love.