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Are We Programmed to be Mediocre?

Posted on 12/03/2019 in Featured Articles by Jack Speer
Jack Speer

Were We Programmed to Be Average?

There is this stunning quotation from Elton John in the movie Rocketman, when he finally comes to the realization that who he is—his own identity—demands that he must personally make a choice of who he will become.

“You have to kill the person you were meant to be to become the person that you want to be.”

What is it worth to you to become the person you want to be instead of following the path that seems inevitable?  There is no doubt that the majority of people were programmed to be average, to look up to celebrity, not ourselves.

Celebrity really is an interesting part of most people’s lives, although I personally have never been much of a fan of celebrity.  When I see celebrities around town here in Austin I don’t approach them—they deserve their space.

Who Do You Personally Admire?

One celebrity you could see here is if you attend a football game at the University of Texas is Matthew McConaughey, who is a huge UT fan and attends many games.

I’m a Mathew McConaughey admirer because he seems to be a fascinating person.  I’ve never had the opportunity meet him, but he’s a  great entertainer, is self-reflective and a lifelong learner.

Who is Your Most Important Personal Hero?

A few years ago in I was flipping channels and came upon the 2014 Academy Awards where McConaughey was receiving an Oscar for the Dallas Buyers’ Club.  I suddenly became fascinated by his acceptance speech where he shared his view of the person who most inspired him.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/86th_Academy_Award

A person that was very important in his life came up to McConaughey when he was 15 years old and asked,  “Who’s your hero?” He responded, “I thought about it and I said you know who my hero is, it’s me in 10 years.”  At 25, someone asked him the same question and he said his hero would be the person he would become at 35–and so it would go as long as he lived.

Becoming Your Own Personal Hero

McConaughey’s  bold assertion about being his own hero ran against everything my West Texas relatives ever taught me.  In my West Texas world there were no heroes, just people doing their jobs–standing out from people around you could get you into a lot of trouble.  There were the heroes of WWII–Eisenhower, MacArthur, Roosevelt–but nobody from around here was a hero.

Batman, Superman–But Why Not Me?!

And isn’t it strange growing up, when we went through our childhood pretend stage, we pretended to be a superhero like Superman or Batman, but whoever pretended the super hero was you?  If you had, it might have meant a trip to the psychologist’s office.

I had spent a lifetime reading biographies about Lincoln, Churchill and many other historical figures I really admired.  I simply found that admiring Lincoln didn’t make me tall and quoting Churchill didn’t make me witty.  I could emulate some of their behaviors to some extent, but the admiration I found in biographies had many more limitations than I ever realized.

Beyond Biographies to Becoming the Best, Real You

Once I understood the concept of becoming my own hero, it was a liberating, empowering insight that has allowed me the ability to do the things I could never do before.

Were We Programmed to Be Average?

A stunning quotation from Elton John’s portrayal in the movie Rocketman is when he finally comes to the realization that “you have to kill the person you were meant to be to become the person you want to be.”  There is no doubt that we were programed to be average, to be admiring someone else as our hero, not ourselves.

Just articulating that I’m going to be my own hero makes me want to turn myself into the Narcissistic  police.  Just the thought seems to break some unwritten rule.  Here are a few ideas that have helped me on my journey to break the chains of average.

  1. Set yourself free!  You have to break free from genes, old teachers, negative bosses, and even from the voice of Momma.  You have to crack open the concept of destiny to take hold of your life.This may be the toughest job you’ve ever undertaken in your life.  Those voices that keep you where you in your single swim lane are incredibly strong, and keep you from moving forward even before you begin.  If you are deep into self-doubt, you won’t break free tomorrow, but you can begin your journey today.  If you don’t quit, you will succeed.
  2. Determined to be me.   For the human race, there are tight norms that you’ll have to break.  People have spent a lifetime teaching you to eat with a knife and a fork, to stand up straight, to wear clean clothes.   These are habits we’ll probably want to keep, but there are thousands of rules that limit who you can be.The he bottom line is that I personally do not believe that you or anyone else was created as an accident.  I can never match you in being who you are.  Your unique combination of traits, from the way you look, your unique abilities, make you the one person in the history of the world who can accomplish what you can do.
  3. Make Yourself the Hero You See.  I used to walk into a room and try to figure out who you wanted me to be, what you’d like me to say.  I doubt we ever completely escape this–we are a tribal race.  Yet there is no other person you can look up to that is more important that you look up to you.

You have to be your own hero.  If not, you’ll always be imitating someone you can never be.  You’ll be denying the unique you that you are and nobody has or is.  It is a challenging process because it strips away every excuse I have to blame my limitations or other people and circumstances.   At the same time, it does not make me an egotist, simply the person who is the steward of all I have been given and am working to use.  I am my hero ten years from now.  When you realize it, the future is always bright and exciting.

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