Today’s episode is a solo round featuring this essay I wrote about Heroism:
Be Your Own Hero
Have we lost sight of what it means to be a hero in the modern age? Do we even need heroes anymore? The native american culture portrayed in the book ‘Black Elk Speaks’ was heavily focused on bravery. We are as removed from that culture as from the culture of chivalry that the knights of the round table were known for. What we do have instead an inventive spirit and the belief that we can become what we set out to become (Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!) Heroes are now innovators, entertainers, teachers, creators, and healers among others. Because we as modern humans have climbed to the top Maslovâ€™s hierarchy of needs, our battle is no longer physical, but rather who we can be for ourselves and others.
We have the opportunity re-invent the definition of the hero for the modern human. The experience of becoming a hero is the essence of our humanity. Joseph Campbell saw that the same mythological tales are found in every culture – the story of an adventurer who answers the call to a great challenge, faces down his demons and comes back to society as a changed individual. So, how can you be a hero?
Find your Cause
The hero is called into action for many reasons – to defend their country, to save his family, to provide some service to a group of people. The greatest athletes have been found to be driven by a belief in something greater – it is usually either god or their own abilities. Stephanie Burns of ChicCEO once told me in an interview about â€˜Unreasonable Requests’ that she found it easy to ask for huge things such as $10,000 of free event space when she was doing it in service of her favorite charity. My own cause that allows me to put for a great effort is to enable people to unlock their fullest human potential by changing the story about themselves (Hero-ification), so that they may contribute to the world in a way that fulfills them and gives them purpose.
Determine your Noble Principles
Ben Franklin was known for his 10 virtues which he attempted to embody every day. He would track this by putting an X each night next to the ones he was able to fulfill for the day. While many religions give us a series of commandments or qualities to live up to, it is up to us to come up with our own virtues and code of conduct based on what is most important to us.
What do you admire in other people? How do you want to feel? What way of being would make you proud of yourself? These are some questions to guide you in making your list. As an example, I have declared the theme for 2016 as â€˜the year of living boldlyâ€™, so in addition to my other values, I will filter action through the lens â€œis this action big and bold enough?”
Take Courageous Action
What are you not satisfied with in your life? What problems do you see in the world? What do people need from you? What do you find yourself thinking about over and over? You Epic Adventure will keep calling and calling, and it is up to you to answer the call and embark on your quest. Heroes are know for their actions and feats, which are impossible to achieve without taking the first step.
In the middle of your journey, you will face challenge that is much greater than you anticipated (10 times harder, according to my calculations) and will take all your effort or concentration. In addition, it takes courage to start a new quest, especially when one has little or no experience. Bravery in the face of the unknown defines the hero. Paolo Coelho tells us that making decisions is our god given right as humans and we must embrace this power. Taking action is heroic because by saying yes you are also closing the door on other options because you believe you are fighting the good fight.
In my own quest to go to all 50 US states before I turned 30 or become a professional cyclist, I was saying no to regular weekends at the lake with friends. Your risk may be physical or social or internal, but remember think of this adventure like an investment. The words are even derived from the same root: venture. There is no return without the risk, we become great through challenge.
Find Your Wise Mentor
Just like Obi Wan Kenobi shows up to provide Luke Skywalker with the guidance and tools he needed to battle the dark side, or Phil Jackson mentored Michael Jordan, you too should seek wise council in the form of an experienced guide. Even Lewis and Clark need the mentorship of Sacagawea to make it to the Pacific in the great expedition.
Who can you think of right now that has fought the same dragons that you face? Who is 6 months ahead of you in school, business, relationships, sports, creativity or whatever area your epic challenge is in? Mentorship does not even need to be in person, some of my greatest mentors have come through books and podcasts.
Remember that the mentor should be getting as much out of the relationship as the mentee. As a heroic person of action, the mentor derives great satisfaction in seeing someone achieve results based on their advice. Make sure you share with your mentor what is working for you. The great educator Dr. Tom Hoerr once told me that listening can be one of the greatest gifts you can provide your mentor.
There comes a time in every heroâ€™s journey when the adventure ends and the hero must re-enter â€™normal’ life. But life will never be the same. You will have grown as a person with new knowledge and skills, have conquered your fears, and have newfound confidence. You job is to give the new heroic version of yourself to the world. By making yourself into a hero, you have done the greatest work for the world.
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