When I worked at a summer camp, we often had themed dress days.
For Christmas Days, you’d wear all your Christmas accessories. For Disney Day, you’d dress as a prince or princess or something. For Donald Trump day you’d all wear ridiculous hairpieces and throw money at everything.
The week we held “Hero Day,” one camper — with a level of adorable that was actually fairly common at that age — came as her father.
Eyes aglow, she told me all about his career with the Tennessee Titans (physician, not player), how wonderful he was, how she loved him more than anything else.
I couldn’t help but be sad for her. In just a few years, all that would change.
As she grows up, she’ll see his mistakes, his flaws, his imperfections.
He will become an obstacle to her adulthood, and she will hate him for that.
Finally, she’ll see him as he is, just another person who happened to be on the planet at the same time as she is.
What happened to his hero status?
Doesn’t this happen to all of us?
At some point in time, we realize our idols are just… well… human. There is nothing super about them.
So then what is the point of a role model? Once that illusion is shattered, once the hero wall comes crumbling down, can we still truly look up to anyone?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: When the curtain is pulled back and we see the true nature of our heroes, when we see them stumble and fall, that makes them even more super than they were in the first place.
Because now they are just ordinary people.
Those firefighters in your area? Ordinary people.
Those athletes you look up to? Ordinary people.
Your parents? Ordinary people.
Tony Robbins, Tiger Woods, Hillary Clinton, Beyoncé — ordinary people.
Far from being discouraging, this is an unbelievably enlightening point.
Do you know who else is just another ordinary person?
But unlike a Lebron James or an Amy Poehler, you have bought into a lie that ordinary is a bad thing. You believe your heroes are somehow more worthy than you are, or that they’ve been given a gift you haven’t.
Certainly some people start out in a better place in life than others, but as I’ve pointed out before, it’s not up to you where you start.
It’s wonderful to be an ordinary person. In fact, it’s one of the best things you can be.
Guess what you get to do, then, if you are an ordinary person?
Grow your talents. Increase you knowledge. Take action. Earn more money. Pour into others.
The overnight success is a myth. Your heroes didn’t just wake up with an extraordinary talent. They just took another step forward and another step forward and another step forward.
And after a certain point, something happens. Something you wouldn’t expect because you’ve been too busy.
You become extraordinary.