I had a poster on the back of my bedroom door as a kid. From the time my family moved into that house, right up until the day I moved out, it stayed there. I looked at it all the time, almost mesmerized by it, which is funny to think now, because to anyone who happened to glance at it, it wasn’t exactly an exciting image.
It was a poster of Tiger Woods, crouched down, reading a putt underneath the phrase “The Eyes Have It.” Super simple, which is why it was so effective: All you ever notice are his eyes, and the intense focus in them. For anyone who followed golf at all from, say, 1996–2008, that look is very familiar. And for someone who grew up idolizing him, like I did, that look embodied everything that was great about Tiger Woods, the golfer. His mental strength and determination, his ability to will a ball to do whatever he needed in a crucial moment—the talent, practice, hard work and commitment that went into those moments was lost on a kid. I felt as though he had super powers. There’s no other way to say it: To the 10-year-old version of myself, Tiger was a superhero.
I flashed back to that poster last month as I watched Tiger win The Masters. A lot has changed in recent years for him (multiple knee surgeries, four back surgeries, and, well, let’s just call it severely self-destructive behavior). Obviously, I don’t view him as I did when I was a kid. Yet, his comeback hit me far more than any of his previous accomplishments. And it made me think about how we view our idols, role models, mentors, etc.
As you get older, the mystique slowly dissipates, and you realize that these superheroes of your childhood are far more ordinary than they always seemed. They’re human. They’re “normal” people. Like all of us, they’re fallible—but capable of great things. That’s what makes them (or simply their achievements) far more inspiring, though. The capes are gone, the magical powers don’t exist, and now that you see this person you idolized as truly no different than you are, you’re able to understand that you too are capable of achieving your own goals.
And why not? If a 43-year-old with a bad back and a bum knee can push himself to outgun a slew of fit, energetic 20-somethings in their physical primes, why can’t you push yourself to get to that next level in your business, or to become a better leader, or to reach whatever goal it is you have set in front of yourself?
Sure, it might not be quite as easy to relate to Tiger’s experiences as personal motivation, but, hopefully, all the pages that follow in this month’s issue help to do that. There’s a reason that the word “inspiration” is part of our tagline on the cover of Ratchet+Wrench every month. It’s the same reason that we use your fellow business owners to explain their strategies and stories each month. We’re not doing it to put certain people on a pedestal, or make their successes seem above the norm. Rather than staring mesmerized at their accomplishments, we want you to see that they are no different than you are and that you, too, can achieve what they have. Hopefully, when you finish reading, you don’t ask, “How did they do that?” And instead ask yourself, “Why can’t I?”