When I say there are no gods, I'm not making a religious statement ( god no ). I'm simply borrowing the power of the word, because it accurately reflects how humans often think of their heroes. I find people often don't think highly enough of themselves, because they think too highly of others. This is an understandable, but crucial mistake in realizing your potential.
Putting someone on a pedestal is a disservice to yourself and to the person you're idolizing. You will never match or exceed them, because you always hold them above you. Likewise they will most likely disappoint you because they have to compete with an image you have composed of them in your own head. In the end, this only suffices to further a divide which becomes more difficult to cross. Intimidation will mount and bitterness will grow.
So how does one cross that divide? You have to humanize your "god". You have to tear down those pedestals. You have to realize that you too can become a "god". Maybe you're reading this and you are someone's "deity". Maybe you're struggling with how best to encourage your followers to step up. The key is showing how little a difference there is between you and them, and convincing them that the divide is narrow.
I'll make this more concrete using some of my own experience as a programmer. I'm a senior developer, which by my definition simply means I've seen some sh**, I take less sh**, and I give out a little bit more sh**. I'm an old face at my studio. I've seen a lot of new developers of varying skill and experience join our team. Regardless of experience, there's a hurdle I've helped many overcome, and that's simply to do what they know is right.
You see, working at a renowned studio, with renowned IP, with renowned people is intimidating even for experienced folks. They get a peek behind the curtain and see the flaws, the chaos, the shortcomings. They see where they can help, but they get stuck. Why? Because they don't want to overstep their boundaries. They assume someone with more experience or tenure will bring the hammer of .... something... down on them in vengeful fury if they slip up at all, or venture into an area of the product that doesn't belong to them.
But that hammer will never actually come. The "gods" want peers. They want people that can sharpen them and teach them new things. They want the new hires to step up and take initiative. Course correction is a fact of life, but that shouldn't discourage anyone from doing what they know to be right. If you meet resistance in doing so, it's usually orthogonal to the actual task at hand. ( office politics, discrimination, etc )
In my conversations with these devs, I usually have one response, "well why don't you?" Why don't you talk to ____? Why don't you run ____ by ____? Why don't you just do _____ ? Why don't you prototype ____ and show it to _____? I pose it as a "duh" moment. But what really happens is, they feel empowered. "Duh" tears down the walls of intimidation. They feel like an equal, like their idea has footing. They get let off the leash; not on external merits or privilege granted to them from on high, but by the sheer value of their own genius and touch of the divine. They didn't need my permission, but someone to point out their own merit.
For some, the hurdle of intimidation is still too high. In those cases it's best to direct someone to talk to the person they're intimidated by directly. But don't send them alone. Go with them, start the conversation. A few minutes of constructive conversation can do wonders for bonding and humanizing both sides. This fosters an overall confidence they can rely on in future instances.
That confidence helps them put themselves on pedestals, so they can stand as equals with those they were intimidated by. It sounds so easy, when initially it can be so scary. That fear centers in the removal of someone else's humanity. If you look up to someone, give them and yourself the benefit of being human. You'll make mistakes, and lord knows they've made plenty. They understand what it's like. They've gone before you.
So if you feel stuck at the precipice of that divide, remember the person on the other side is just as human as you. They've just been at it longer. They've made more mistakes. They've had more triumphs. If they're worth being your hero then they will only seek to expand their field by letting others like yourself in. You have to be willing to treat them as human, and yourself as an equal, capable of making a contribution. Remember, there are no gods.