Who Doesn’t Want to be a Hero?
I’ve recently become a bit of a Heroes fan. Just after Christmas, I started plowing through the DVDs of the first season with hopes of being ready for season 3 which premiers tonight. In season one, I loved Hiro’s desire to save the world, Peter’s commitment to follow his heart, and Claire’s desire for anonymity. Many of us harbor the secret (or not so secret) desire to be a hero. We want to do great big courageous things, to demonstrate valor in the face of adversity, to stare danger in the eye and not blink. Unfortunately, we wait and wait in vain for the big, splashy “black swan” opportunities where we can save the day.
There is another kind of hero — a kind that sees opportunities for heroism many times, every day. The challenge is that these opportunities rarely lead to an immediate hero’s homecoming (which may be our true desire). This is the heroics of the small stuff, the little things, the common place. Small acts are its currency, acts like:
- handwriting a note to a friend that could use a kind word,
- admitting you’re wrong to someone that works for you,
- taking time to clean up the conference room after a lunch meeting (when it’s not your responsibility),
- offering your seat on the bus to someone who’s younger than you, but still needs it, and
- speaking up when everyone else seems to be going with the flow.
Whenever we act on the sense that we should do something, we make a deposit in our life’s account. Every time we reject that sense and fail to act, we make a withdrawal. Over time, as our deposits outweigh our withdrawals, we begin to realize that a hero’s homecoming is not the reward, but instead the greater purpose, meaning, and joy we feel in our lives as we act with integrity. We may find some true heroes on the front page of the newspaper or celebrated on TV or the big screen, but most walk the heroes’ path alone, content with having acted with honor.
The great strength of true heroes is their unwavering commitment to honor the thoughts and feelings they have to do the little things — even when time is at a premium. Let’s all be heroes today and make time to sweat the small stuff.