When we realize that we are all humans, it doesn’t diminish what Shorter and other amazing champions have accomplished, but instead, makes you appreciate it even more. As I often tell my collegiate runners, the best of the best go through the same doldrums, lack of motivation, fear of failure, the anxiety of racing, and inner demons of self-doubt that you go through. They feel and experience it all. They are human. Release yourself from unrealistic expectations and you free yourself up to perform to your own capabilities.
When we give into the myth of greatness, we fall trap to several mistakes. First, that there is some secret, that what we are missing is some piece of knowledge that they have, that we do not. Secondly, that in order to reach great heights we need to be near perfect; superhuman, the athlete who has a perfect diet, washboard abs, and has never missed a workout.
Yesterday was my father’s funeral. Cancer took him in 8 weeks from start to finish, with a speed that left everyone speechless; my dad never did like to waste words, or his time, on events whose outcome he couldn’t influence. “Nothing clarifies the mind like the absence of an alternative”, he liked to say.