Having heros is a dangerous habit. If you have a hero, expect to be disappointed and disillusioned when you discover they don’t approve of your interpretation of them. Your world will shatter when the hero that you respected so highly shrugs you and your ways off. You will then be forced to think: “how could my hero reject me, a person who is obviously shaped by the very same hero’s ideas and ways?“.
Suppose I respect Steve Jobs. Suppose he’s my hero; an ideal that I want to be. Obviously, I will try to emulate him and his ways. I will try developing my own point of view based on his thoughts. He likes simplicity, so I like simplicity. He likes good design, so I like good design. He can be ruthless and direct with other people, so I too should do the same. I’m in awe, and he is perfect. Of course, I don’t have to base my complete life on one hero; I can have multiple heros too. But if heros come to represent what I want to be, their ways ultimately dictate my life and choices.
Heros dictating one’s life is not bad by itself. But what is bad is the possibility of discovering that your hero doesn’t approve of your life. If being a Steve Jobs fan, I design a product and with childlike enthusiasm go and meet him to show my product. Now suppose he sends the whole thing away to trash and criticizes me, and laughs at my misunderstanding of his ideas. Wouldn’t this rejection be as shameful as it can get?
Rejection from others can be tolerated since you often rationalize them to be wrong. But accepting rejection from a hero is very painful. All your life you had been interpreting your heros’ lives and ideas, and one day they may scoff at just how mistaken you were! It’s not to say that heros will disregard you, but the mere possibility presents a strong case of not having heros in life. (You cannot obvious control or predict how your heros behave towards you when you go and meet them)
Do you not then set yourself for a (possible) big disappointment if you lift a hero higher than yourself? What would you do if his ideals, his values, and his way of life becomes an ideal, and he himself rejects your life? Why can’t you idolize ideas instead of people?
Also, be ready to be shocked when (and if) you discover even your heros have fallibilities; when you discover they could be wrong too; and that they too are ultimately humans (just like you and me).
Save yourself from such earthy embarrassment. Follow a simple rule in life: don’t have heros larger than yourself. Respect your opinion, values, ideas and ways above anyone else!
As Nietzsche famously said, “become who you are”.