New Castle News

Tim Kolodziej

May 29, 2014

Tim Kolodziej: Do you wanna be like Mike? Here’s how

NEW CASTLE — What we behold, we become.

So powerful. So true.

Back in the early ’90s, we all wanted to be like Mike, remember?

So we watched Air Jordan dominate the NBA with scoring titles and championship rings, laughed with “Space Jam,” teared up when his dad was murdered, then scratched our heads as he discarded his hoop genius to chase a baseball dream on the diamond.

Even though none could match his game, there was plenty of evidence around the globe that we were mesmerized — and mimicking.

•Shaving our heads

•Chugging Gatorade

•Rocking the long, baggy shorts

•Slipping on the Jordan kicks

•Soaring to the rim with our tongues hanging out

What we behold, we become.

Nothing has changed 20 years later.

And it won’t. It’s not supposed to.

Brett Nichols is only the latest sensation to drive that point home.

Name doesn’t ring a bell? He’s the kid you probably saw on the Internet or on TV at some point during the past week.

Yes, THAT kid.

The Michael Jackson kid.

If you haven’t caught his act yet, it’s worth two minutes of your life. His rendition of “Billie Jean” is THAT good. (You can watch an interview with Brett and his performance below.)

The junior at Pitman High in northern California blew away his classmates during a school talent show last week. He absolutely crushed the King of Pop’s legendary performance from the “Motown 25” special in 1983. His moonwalk, in particular, is magnificent.

To date, millions around the globe have seen Nichols dance on YouTube. He’s since been invited to Las Vegas for an MJ stage production, and has been asked to perform with Who’s Bad, a Jackson tribute band.

As someone who grew up singing “ABC” with Michael in the basement, I couldn’t help but be impressed, too.

I’ve watched the clip a few times now, and a major question popped into my head: How does a 17-year-old white kid with shaggy red hair become the King of Pop reincarnated?

What we behold, we become.

That’s how.

Here is Brett Nichols’ formula, in two simple steps ...

1) Stare — This has been done through the ages. If you want to learn how to do something, you watch another person.

But I don’t mean casually looking on. We must stare.

I’m guessing young Mr. Nichols didn’t just enjoy a clip or two of Jackson to learn his moves.

He fixed his eyes. He gazed intently. He burned the steps and patterns into his brain.

He studied.

Over and over again.

Then he did it some more.

2) Practice — Once you’ve stared, then it’s time to REALLY get to work.

Judging from Brett’s movements, he probably spent hours upon hours deconstructing — then reconstructing — Jackson’s routine.

All of it. The “Jerry Lewis” slide. The hip kick. Up on the toes. The moonwalk.

Granted, Brett shares Jackson’s blade-like figure and quick feet, but the only thing “natural” about him is the effort he put in to amaze us all.

By all accounts, Brett is just like you. And just like me.

But here’s the big difference. Most of us are content to simply behold incredible performances. There’s a word for that: “fan.”

Those who soar to great heights add a layer: they “become.”

Then we watch THEM dazzle the masses.

So here’s that simple formula again:

•Behold, then become.

•Gaze, then amaze.

If you want to be excellent, don’t just watch.


Not until you get it right. Until you can’t get it wrong.

What we behold, we become.

The dance floor is only one spot where this occurs.

It’s also how the best basketball trainers in America teach their clients. They watch clips of Rondo, Kobe, LeBron and Durant then have their students mimick those moves on the court.

Aspiring plumbers and electricians carry out apprenticeships with those who have gone before them.

Millions of young people turn to the Internet to view “walk-throughs” of masters who have conquered the most popular video games.

Young businessmen and women learn to thrive in their fields by seeking out mentors.

Children discover how to be adults from the modeling of their parents.

Jesus himself said as much to his disciples when he walked the earth.

“Look at me. Watch what I do. Then follow me.”

That’s when another thought came to mind. A very scary one.

I’m always being watched. So are you.

Knowing that, are we worth following? Have we become the person we’ve always wanted to be?

Or are we satisfied with just witnessing others display character, courage and skill?

It’s our choice.

We can simply behold.

Or we can behold AND become.

The latter takes lot more work, but as Brett Nichols proved, it’s a lot more fun to watch.

Just like Mike.


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Tim Kolodziej