Like most people I never got to meet Sheldon Brown. After reading many online tributes yesterday, this morning I did a Google blog search and came up with around 3,700 blog entries on Sheldon’s passing.
Then I did another search for blogs on Heath Ledger, the young movie star who died two weeks ago, 148,000 blog entries. A ratio of 40 to 1; however, when you consider Heath Ledger was an internationally known movie star, and Sheldon was a bike mechanic; I still find this statistic pretty amazing.
Heath Ledger died two weeks ago and Sheldon Brown passed away last Sunday. The number of blogs on Ledger would have been considerably less just two or three days after his death.
When you also consider Heath Ledger’s death, and the drug related speculation that followed, was all over the media; whereas, the news of Sheldon’s passing broke on a few bike related websites.
The point I am making is this: You can measure a person’s greatness by the number of lives they touch; Sheldon Brown surely touched many lives.
The most common word used to describe Sheldon is “Guru.” It is a word that often gets misused, but in Sheldon’s case fits perfectly. There are leaders in this world, and then there are gurus.
When leaders speak, not everyone agrees; some don’t like the way they are being lead, and they protest and argue. However, when a guru speaks, people just listen in silence and nod their head in agreement.
Sheldon regularly posted on Bike Forums; he will be greatly missed there. His last posting on February 3rd. he helped someone who had a question on freewheel threading.
No one ever argued with Sheldon on Bike Forums, they just quietly nodded their heads in agreement.
This is rare, anonymous posters anywhere on the Internet are not opposed to telling someone they are “full of shit” when they disagree with something.
Leaders often demand respect, but in the end they have to earn it. Gurus never even ask for respect, they come by it naturally. A rare quality indeed; Sheldon Brown had that quality.