Be Your Own Hero-Part 1

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5 Steps to Becoming   Your Own Hero

    I was sitting in a movie theater when the woman on the screen said ‘put on some skates…be your own hero’.  The simple statement caught me and I thought to myself, “Boy, she sure does make that sound easy”.  That was immediately followed by the realization that being your own hero really can be that easy.  Are you your own hero? We each have it in ourselves to be our own personal champion.   Becoming a person that you look up to…the person that you aspire to be… is possible once you know where to start.    

    1. Define ‘hero’- What exactly is a hero to you? 

A person that climbs mountains? 

A person that speaks up for someone smaller than himself?

Someone that makes you feel special and important?   

    To be something, you must first define it.  Start by creating a Hero Journal. Grab a notebook and write your own definition.  If you find it hard to delineate your own specific ideas at this point, don’t be surprised.  This characterization will change and grow with time.  You might find that what mattered to you last year isn’t important today.    Continue through the other steps and your own interpretation will start to emerge. The important thing here is to really focus on what heroism means to you.  When you have finished all of the steps, you will find that your own definition has begun to solidify and that you have a clear path to take towards becoming that person. 

    2. List your personal heroes

    Turn to a fresh page in your Hero Journal and list all of the people that you really look up to.  They can be friends, next door neighbors, or strangers that have randomly crossed your path. They don’t even have to be real.     

    While many of my heroes are personal friends, I also look up to Barbara Kingsolver, Frodo Baggins and Jimmy Carter.  While two of these are real people, I have never met them, so it is actually my idea of them that I look up to.  They all three might as well be fictional characters.  However, reality is not what is important here.  Traits that I aspire to are what are important.  Who else do you know that ate locally and organically for an entire year, finished a job despite months of pain and fear, and traded a life of fame for one of service?  Yes, I easily count all three of these among my heroes. 

    Take the time the put photos and quotes of your heroes in your journal. Cut pictures out of magazines and include drawings, writings and song lyrics. Anything that inspires heroism is fair game.

    3. Specify what makes them heroic?

    What ideals do these lives reflect and what do you dream of your own life saying?  Take your Hero Journal and put the name of each champion on the top of a page.  Then list all of the characteristics that cause you to look up to them.  Are they courageous?  Self-assured?  Compassionate?  There is no right or wrong answer here.  This is all about you and the characteristics you see in others that you find admirable.

    My heroes are brave.  John Wayne said that being brave is not about lack of fear, but about being scared and acting anyway.  Why does my friend Rena seem brave to me?  At the age of 41, she not only signed up to take an adult belly dancing class, but also danced in a public recital in front of 200 people. With no background in dance or performing, it had to be the scariest thing she has ever done.  However, she pulled her shoulders back, took a deep breath and began to dance.  She was wonderful.  And she made me want to be brave.

    My heroes are kind and self confident.  They know that one does not need to tear others down when trying to accomplish a goal, and they know that their own excellence is not lessened when they help someone less accomplished then themselves.  My friend Jan is the most amazing backpacker I know.  With over 2,600 miles under her belt, she is fast, experienced and completely capable.  I am pretty sure that she could actually leap mountains in a single bound. Yet, when she hikes with me, she never acts like I am slow or awkward.  She revels in the hike and makes me feel like we are complete equals on the trail.

I want to make others feel that same way.

    My heroes have integrity.   And for me, integrity is simple.  It is doing what you say you are going to do.  A few years ago, I went to Africa to do volunteer work and, like the others in my group, was very touched by the need there. We all spent hours discussing the ways we would continue to help this community once we came home. However, once we returned to the US, our old lives resumed and our plans fell to the side.  Except for Kristi’s.  She started an email campaign among her friends and five years later her small campaign has become a non-profit that raises thousands of dollars a year and is responsible for many young Tanzanians getting an education.   She did exactly what she said she was going to do.  I want to live a life of integrity.

To be continued………..

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