While I admired each of these people’s skill in their respective fields, I quickly learned that I belonged among them for one primary reason: I was trying to be the best at my craft just like they were. Once I proved that I was there to work, work just as hard as they were, I became part of the group. My socio-economic status didn’t matter on the training room floor. My commitment, my heart and will, my ability to help others in some way, these were the things that mattered and that I was measured by. The world would be a much better place if this was true everywhere. Maybe I would have been treated differently outside of that space, but I never really pursued hanging out with anyone other than during the training sessions. Occasionally I would bump into one of these guys somewhere, and I would be sure to say hello. We shared timed, suffered together, and that is enough of a bond between us forever.
The photo in this blog is of me with Dan O’Brien, after he threw out the first pitch at a Diamondbacks baseball game. For those of you who do not recognize his name, Dan was part of the 1996 Olympic team, where he won a gold medal in the decathlon. From what I know of Dan, he is a great guy; he always took time for people who wanted to speak with him, and he treated everyone equally in my opinion. He was part of the crew that trained at the Phoenix Swim Club in the early 2000’s where I met most of the people listed above. I was fortunate to be a part of this elite training program, which was home to a lot of professional athletes and Olympians, as well as high school and college athletes preparing for competition at the next level. Everyone was there to not only work hard for themselves, but there was a great culture of helping everyone around you. While I was not going to keep up with the NFL receivers running the 40 yard dash (my best time was 4.89 seconds, while they were running 4.4 or better), I did help a few with other things that I was proficient at. It was an amazing experience, and I miss those days…
I am not telling you this to brag, but rather to emphasize that I am speaking from experience on this topic. I haven’t been just watching from the sidelines and forming opinions about people I haven’t met, I have interacted with this list of people and many others as well. I have had a backstage pass, so to speak, on a fair amount of “people of notoriety” of one form or another, and I have seen the reality of it. These people are flawed humans, just like the rest of us. I will not disparage anyone on my list by also linking to the news stories about their misgivings and shortcomings as said humans, but understand this: “THEY” ARE JUST AS MESSED UP AS “WE” ARE, AND SOMETIMES MORE. You can point fingers at a few of them and say what you like, but the reality is that none of us are above reproach. NO ONE can really stand their ground on a lifetime of flawless human behavior, as there is no such thing. And yet as a society we continue to put others on a pedestal that is unearned in many cases, and in some instances absolutely undeserving. Once again, I want to make something very clear:
These are not better PEOPLE than you and I, they are just better at their chosen craft than almost everyone else on the planet.
What most of the people who rise to fame in sports or other areas find out is that they need to be obsessed with their craft and really apply themselves until the achieve a level of proficiency that few others possess. That’s it. Sometimes it is natural born talent as an underlying boost, and then a lot of hard work to get to the top. But I can also tell you that when you focus solely on one area of your life, the rest lags behind in development. When you have been someone who stands out as a talented person among others from young age, you are treated differently. You get away with things, people do stuff for you that others don’t get. Think about what this does to a person’s psyche; I am not condoning what Tiger Woods did, but if you look at the life he’s lead, were you surprised?
As we continue down the path we are on with social media, it is so easy to get fooled by the glossy and filtered photos we see on Instagram, TikTok and other places without ever really learning the person behind the façade of their social accounts. “Reality” TV shows are staged and scripted, despite what the title implies. Life is not what it appears to be in many cases, so don’t feel bad about yourself because they have and you don’t. Have you considered what it would be like to be really famous? Like Tom Brady famous, or Bradley Cooper or Jamie Foxx famous? You couldn’t go anywhere, do anything, be left alone, ever. Everyone wants a selfie with you, an autograph, or some of your time. There is no hiding from this, and the first time you are rude to someone, get frustrated with the intrusion, etc., and the whole world will know about it. Or when the tabloids sharing picture of you by the pool in your own back yard, how do you think that would feel? Do you really want TMZ following you around, just waiting for you to mess up in some small way, just so they can try to make a story out of it? No Thanks!!!
My suggestion is that you reevaluate your goals and define them for what you REALLY want them to be. Maybe what you want is to be financially secure and anonymous instead? THAT is what I am gunning for, rich and anonymous. Don’t associate fame and money, as they can be two very different things. In an ideal world, I would be well known within a small circle of people, but still be able to walk through the mall and no one would know who I am. I want the financial freedom to own my house, travel, live the life I want to live. I want to fly fish all over the US and certain spots around the world, and I want to travel with my wife as well. Knowing what I know now, I have ZERO desire to be Kardashian famous. That juice is not worth the squeeze in my opinion, and I truly believe that if you really thought about it, most of you would come to the same conclusion.
Live a life that is what you want it to be, not what you think others would want it to be. Do you, and ignore the rest. I believe this is a recipe for a happy life, anything else is going to be too much of a distraction and unwanted responsibility. Consider this deeply and let me know what you think.