Circa 1991. When I was a kid, I was a huge baseball fan- and still am by the way. Growing up my favorite player was a guy named Graig Nettles, third baseman for the Yankees in the 70s and early 80s. This guy provided me with a lot of thrills growing up and he was to me, “The Man”.
In the early 90s I was working on my first book, Safe at Home, which afforded me the privilege of being on the field and in the locker room of Major League Baseball teams in order to interview players. Graig was a coach for the Yankees at the time.
As I was standing on the field talking to some of the guys, Graig walked by. My heart jumped, but I couldn’t bring myself to engage in a conversation. I couldn’t even muster up the courage to say hello. I’m most definitely not a shy guy when it comes to those type of situations, and I certainly was not intimidated by him. So why the hesitation?
The reason I chose not to talk to Graig was because I did not want my childhood icon to turn out to be a sham. Graig was so built up in my mind upon the shallow image of the Yankees third baseman, but what if the real Graig turned out to be a jerk? I’m sure Mr. Nettles is a great guy, but I couldn’t bring myself to take the chance.
In retrospect, it was pretty lame of me not to go up and talk to the guy who was at one time my hero. Makes me think, how much do we really know about the people we look up to? Most of the time we fail to recognize that they are human, just like us, and that humans sometimes fail. We put so much stock in others that when they do crash they take us down with them!
Think about it…
Who do you look up to and why? Some of my favorite images are of people who love their dogs so much so that they actually look like them. It’s the same thing for humans. When we look up to someone, or idolize them, we try to emulate them. There is a great quote that says, “Be yourself. After all, everyone else is taken.” Wise words. Think about who it is you put up on a pedestal and then write down what it is about them that is so attractive to you. Does the list reveal anything to you?