The human, not the myth

I’m going to share a simple yet powerful quote from Steve Jobs this morning:

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it.”

As children, we have role models that we aspire to be like. These may be people in the real world who we know (like our parents), people in the real world who we don’t know (like businessmen, politicians, athletes, and celebrities), and superheroes from movies and books. We endow these people with a mythical status and see them as almost faultless legends whose performances we can never come close to achieving.

As we grow older, we first realize that the people in the real world who we know aren’t faultless after all. For example, our parents make mistakes just like we do. Just like us, they’re simply trying to do the best job they can in an uncertain world. They’re not myths, but humans.

At a somewhat later age (probably somewhere in our 20’s), as Steve Jobs realized, we realize that the same is true for people in the real world who we don’t know. We may not know the founder of the world’s biggest tech company, a superstar athlete, or the leader of a country, but if we did, we’d realize that they also have strengths and weaknesses. They’re not myths, but humans. And as humans ourselves, we can do things similar to what they did if we have similar endowments, care about what we’re doing, work hard, surround ourselves with complementary people, and are a bit lucky.

Even most superheroes from movies and books have extreme weaknesses that accompany their extreme strengths. After all, they’re figments of the imagination of human authors who build them with the expectation that they¬†should have shortcomings just like the humans that they’re based on.

Once you internalize the fact that we’re all humans, not myths, many of your fears and worries go away. You realize that you’re actually much closer to achieving your aspirations than you may think.