Idols are Overrated

Tim Ferriss poops. He probably poops a lot if he follows his own advice. Tim Ferriss is also worth a poop-ton of money. He’s built a valuable personal brand, written two NY Times bestsellers, sold a company he started from scratch, and angel-invested in companies including Twitter and Posterous.

I can be as successful as Tim Ferriss. Do you know that you can be as successful as Tim Ferriss, too? I don’t mean have an awareness of the possiblity, I mean deep down believe with every fiber that you and Tim Ferriss are really not so different.

Kevin Rose, Tim Ferriss, and Paula Abdul (via

Let’s dig deeper:

Idolizing someone as a role model and a guide can be a powerful motivator as long as we believe we can reach his or her level of success. If the pedestal is so high it seems insurmountable, an idol can turn into an equally forceful demotivator.

If a person is so far beyond our level of intelligence, capability, and influence that we are insignificant next to them, self doubt can rip apart our confidence and diminish our ability to question his or her authority. In learning, questioning is everything. Great advances in science, medicine, and philosophy, are achieved when one individual questions a limiting belief. An outsider says, “It can’t be done,” and she responds, “why not?”

He makes mistakes. She feels happy, sad, proud, and angry. He forms incorrect assumptions and relies on them to make decisions. She can’t always distinguish the forest from the trees. He is a priest. She is a surgeon.

If you feel in your gut that one of them is wrong, how likely are you to speak up?

My bit of this story

My sisters and I were taught to idolize and look up to successful and powerful people. When I was 10, the idea of being a doctor, lawyer, or a politician seemed glamorous and vaguely possible. With age and education, each of those career paths diminished in glamour but grew in possibility.

I graduated from Tulane with a group of about 35 students in my program. A third of them went to medical school, a handful to law school, and several remained in the same program for graduate school. A few of them are more intellectually gifted than I am. Most of them just didn’t sleep during college. Each in their own way, they will make a difference. In my own way, I will make a difference.

The bottom line of this semi-ranting post:

  1. Everyone is human
  2. Think that the “experts” might be wrong
  3. Remember that you are powerful