Never meet your heroes?
I experienced my first online cohort-based course in 2019. It was called "Habit Builder Challenge" and was run by a self-help YouTuber who had over 1 million subscribers: Richard of the Improvement Pill channel.
He was someone I looked up to: he was interested in self-improvement, had built a successful youtube channel business, and seemed to be living the dream traveling the world.
In the first cohort of the habit course, there were only about 30 people. He would get on voice chat with us to go over the daily assignments with us. I was very shy, and didn't speak much on the calls at that time. But it was so cool to have that close of a connection to him.
He needed some help moderating the Facebook group, and I volunteered. In subsequent cohorts, I became a teacher's assistant: voice chatting with students and helping them with the assignments. This helped me build confidence speaking on calls. I also became a Discord admin of the community server. All of this meant working behind-the-scenes and having direct contact with Richard.
I had put him on a pedestal in my mind. He was very open with us, sharing some stuff about his life that wasn't public knowledge. Some of it left me disappointed, at the time. For example, he played video games. I had cut video games from my life after being addicted to them. I viewed them as a complete waste of time, and not a productive outlet for someone who valued self-improvement.* "Never meet your heroes" warns about this kind disappointment. I became a bit disenchanted with him. Which was a good thing.
* For him, he was able to maintain a good balance with video games in his life, using them as a reward for goals, and not neglecting other priorities. I've actually been getting back into gaming in the past couple of months: play-to-earn games that use cryptocurrencies and NFTs. I actually got into the crypto world in the first place because of an Improvement Pill video.
What I learned is that he's as human as any of us, with flaws, and different experiences and tastes. He didn't want to be worshipped as some celebrity. He wanted to be friends with us. He helped me out when I was in a tough financial situation by paying for my course assistance before I had put in the work. He gave me an opportunity to write video scripts for his channel (although I chickened out from feeling too much pressure and feared I would fail him). We had some great discussions when we hosted book clubs for the community.
The habit course he created continues to impact me to this day. I still continue with the keystone habits I built in the course, and have started many more habits with the techniques I learned. (See what my habits are here) Also because of the course, I was able to build skills in community management and course moderation. This led to further opportunities:
- I'm now a mentor for another online course that has over a thousand students,
- I'm building my own community for productivity,
- And I've developed a computer coaching business, confidently getting on calls with clients.
It turns out that Richard is my hero, and I am very grateful to have met him. Not because he's living the ideal life that I imagined. But because of the profound, positive impact he has personally had on me.