In the column, she points out the importance of having excellent role models–people whom we admire and wish to emulate, in order to grow ourselves.
Of course, we needn’t become little clones. As she notes:
The Talmud is replete with anecdotes from the lives of the sages so that later generations could model their behavior after them. The idea is not to mimic holy people, since God is not into carbon copies, but rather to recognize a clear ideal and to strive for it. Following in the footsteps of the great does not require wearing the same size shoe but only walking in the same direction.
Nor should we think we have to become perfect immediately. If I had to pick out the single best line from the column, it would be:
An acorn is not an oak tree, but it’s not a stone, either.
What we need is to be moving in the right direction. Keeping good role models in front of us helps us know what direction to go.
In the Catholic tradition we also make it a point to emulate those who are close to God and whose lives inspire us. They need not be formally recognized as saints, but some of them are (to learn about some of them, you might check out Dr. Paul Camarata’s SaintCast).