One of the self-discovery activities I use to help people develop their self-awareness includes this question: “When you were younger, who was your hero?”
When I’ve asked this question over the years, I have heard that certain teachers were heroes for their ability to help someone who never felt heard or valuable feel both heard and valuable.
I have heard that a parent can be a hero because of the way they live their life – always responding to and caring for others; being creative and authentic no matter what; believing deeply in the greatness in their kids; having a unrelenting faith or actually allowing others to determine their own beliefs.
I have heard that a boss or a colleague can be a hero for the way they create or support a workplace that is fair, focused on achievement and inclusive, and never gossips, demeans or belittles anyone.
I have heard that a friend can be a hero because of the way they stay with you through your ups and downs, without any judgment.
The purpose of this question is to help you identify the attributes you see in others that are important to you. We need heroes in our lives because they give us three important things:
- Heroes teach us. They do what they do so well that we take note. Maybe we see who we want to be, or how we want to connect with others, or how we want to live, or how to develop and live deep beliefs. Their commitment to who they are expands what we think about, see and consider. Heroes help us learn.
- Heroes help us define our values. As we watch and are impressed by others, we start to identify why we are impressed; we start to identify the things that are important to us. It may be that they treat people kindly and fairly; we see these are our values. It may be that they are resilient and tenacious; we see this and we want to be this. It may be that they are excellent negotiators and always seem to find a way to achieve their goals; it identifies that achievement is important to us. By watching others, we frequently get clear of our own values.
- Heroes encourage us to be our best selves. Heroes bring their A-game. The show up. They step up. They stand out. The don’t play small. They sit on the sidelines. We see their effort and focus and are encouraged and inspired to tap into ours. We see the impact they have and connect it to the effort they bring.
The thing I have found most amazing about heroes is that they never intend to be heroes. They are humble. They are authentic. They just do what they do because they believe it to be true for them.
My dad was one of my heroes. He defined his values in life and lived them boldly, openly and lovingly. He brought his best to others. He did it not to impress, but to make the world a better place. This was particularly difficult to do raising six kids.
Watch for heroes. Believe in heroes. Believe that we can each live consciously, intentionally and boldly what really matters to us, to make things better for all of us.
By Jay Forte
Consider reading The Imagine Game