Gee: Our heroes are human too, and it’s time we treated them that way
Every day, I remind myself how blessed I am to be involved in a couple careers that involve people. For the better part of the last few years I have been talking about things that divide us as people, and talking about topics where one group of people feel this way, and another group of people feel another way.
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Toward the end of last year I tried to talk about more things that people had in common, rather than things that divide them. It was during this time of reflection that I made a pretty eye opening conclusion:
We all struggle with something.
Seems simple, right? But please let me explain.
I meet, interview and work with people from all walks of life. Athletes, businessmen, criminals, politicians, and we talk about just about everything from sports to politics. Sometimes these people surprise me with just how “real” they are.
A quick look at the headlines and we can see that arguably the richest man in the world is going through a divorce. I’ve talked with people about tragic losses in their family, personal struggles with addiction and the struggles they face in a divided society.
Despite the easy to believe theory that famous people live amazing worry-free lives, bad things happen to rich and famous people too.
All that said, how often do we see a headline about a person of fame and fortune suffering though any of these things and we somehow feel it isn’t that bad for them because of their celebrity status?
How quick are we to pounce on an athlete who had a bad game, dropped a key pass, or missed a crucial field goal without even a thought about what that person is going through off the field?
You’ve seen it all.
“He gets millions of dollars to make that kick.”
“He gets paid to hit free throws.”
Or my least favorite, “Shut up and play football”
Its easy to think we “know” these celebrities too. After all we see them play, sing, and perform for us routinely, and we see them talk to us after the events of their craft.
But do we know these people?
Part of my job is talking to these people, some rich, some not so famous, some strange, but the one thing they all have in common: They aren’t bulletproof.
Before these on-air interviews, I sometimes spend hours talking to people about some pretty real things that never hit the air. Some of these people, because of what I do for a living, I see recovering from all sorts of things. The people we expect to be flawless and perfect? They aren’t.
Rich, poor, black, brown, or white, Republican or Democrat, famous or not famous; we all struggle. We’ve all experienced losses in life, or, if we haven’t, one day we will.
So, you might be wondering where I am going with all this.
Instead of asking a question, I am putting out a challenge this week: What if, more of us, when we hear about someone who is struggling, took a moment and reflected on it with some genuine empathy for what that person is going through?
What if we stopped this fantasy of thinking that rich and famous people are exempt from suffering through the same things that we go through.
And what if we trained ourselves to forgive people for failing once in a while, because we truly don’t know what challenges they are facing.
I am humbled by the opportunities to work with people for a living. At the same time, I am blessed to sometimes be the ears they need to share their stories of struggle with.
One thing we all have in common is that we all struggle with something. Let’s work together and find more things things we share as human beings, as parents, as business professionals, and more.
Thank you to the many people who have trusted me with your stories of triumph, and the stories of struggle. It is your stories that shape, teach and guide me to be the person I am today.