In college, some friends and I used ask each other and others who joined our group to name the three people in the world to whom they looked up to most. People like Muhammad Ali, Roy Keane, Brian O’Driscoll, Robert De Niro, people’s Dads and older brothers used feature regularly.
I always struggled to come up with names.
Because with every musician or sportsman I thought of whose music or playing I liked, I could also think of a story about how he had treated his band badly, or his teammates, or his family, or his fans. And I didn’t want to look up to someone who did those things, no matter how well he played the piano or how good a footballer he was.
It was only a laugh really, a conversation to pass some time, and I possibly took it too seriously.
But the point at the heart of it remains – is it possible to be a top class sportsman, musician, or actor, and be a decent person too?
It’s why people say never to meet your heroes – because so often as people they will disappoint you.
The New Zealand rugby team have a motto, which they borrowed from the Sydney Swans AFL team – “No dickheads”. It means they are trying to create not only rugby players who fans can admire, but people to whom others can look up.
Nice guys don’t always finish last. It’s possible to be good at what you do, as well as being good to others.
Strive for that.