In your time of need, when all you want is for someone else to sort out your life, your challenges, your relationship, your work, or your world, I have some bad news…
Your superheroes aren’t coming to save the day because they’re occupied, playing out stories of overcoming adversity, meant to inspire US to action.
Plus (spoiler alert) … they aren’t really real.
BUT WE ARE!
And we can be the heroes of our own story.
Not all heroes wear a cape.
I’ve been seeing and hearing this phrase a lot lately.
It’s true. Real heroes don’t necessarily have cool magical tools such as a lightsaber or a Lasso of Truth. And when last did you see someone cantering down the highway on a white steed?
Real heroes are more ordinary than extraordinary.
They may only be equipped with a pen, but their way with words spurs you to action or triggers an emotion. They’re the woman offering a helping hand when you take a nasty spill on the icy steps. Or that guy who cycles past you every day, saving the environment on his way to work.
In short, heroes don’t look “the part”. They look just like you and me.
Everyday heroes have something which makes them powerful.
They have moral fibre.
Guts and grit. Will and courage. Love and kindness.
An ordinary person’s superpower is their strength of character.
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
— Christopher Reeve
But you don’t need to endure overwhelming obstacles to be a hero. It’s not just about what a hero has. It’s what they do with it.
Local heroes …
- Make wise choices.
- Take positive action.
- Show up every day.
- Aren’t afraid to ask for help.
- Push themselves so that they can grow.
- Help and support others to do the same.
- Hang in there when the going gets tough.
- Stand up for what’s important to them.
- Respect others despite their differences.
They set the example, in big and small ways, every day. Irrespective of whether they’re having a bit of a bad day, or need to bite their nails in nervous terror while they’re doing it .
See, it doesn’t take much to be a hero.
Think you can handle that?
Just think of the ballads they’ll sing about you…
When I Googled “hero”, I came across over 50 pop songs with variations of “hero” or “heroine” in the title.
From at least the 70’s, everyone and their band has sung songs about heroes. Depending on your age and musical tastes, there are some epic tracks out there. Think Bonnie Tyler, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Metallica. Or more recently, the Foo Fighters, Enrique Iglesias and Alesso.
But the idea of “the hero/ine” is a seminal storytelling archetype which recurs throughout mankind’s history and TV guides. From caveman paintings and religious myths to troubadour’s lyrics and Homer’s “The Odyssey”. From Cinderella and Nemo to Luke Skywalker and Jason Bourne.
We’re attracted to tales of the valiant chap or daring adventuress doing difficult things, battling bad guys and saving the day. Transforming into a better person as they do so, and getting a kiss for their trouble.
They made the impossible seem possible and it gives us hope.
(Read Joseph Campbell’s work to find out more. Or for those with short attention spans, here’s a quick animated Hollywood version of the Hero’s Journey)
As we travel our own paths through an increasingly discombobulating world, filled with adventure, challenge, temptation and transformation, we need all the hero guidance we can get.
So yes, gain the inspiration you need from heroic stories. Feed your creativity and imagination through escapism. But remember those real-world modern day heroes who took brave steps too. People who made change and who lived with integrity, despite the difficulties they were facing. Martin Luther King, Amelia Earhart, Thomas Edison or Elon Musk come to mind, but who fills that role for you?
Don’t forget to look closer to home for inspiration too. It might be your mum, who teaches special needs kids. Or your neighbour who battled cancer twice, but is the most optimistic person you know.
Take a leaf out of their book. Learn from them. Emulate them. Then, when it comes to how you take on your real world, write your own story.
Save your own day. Be your own hero.
All the best heroes have a talisman of some kind. So arm yourself with what helps you feel powerful.
For me, it’s purple. It’s my power colour and wearing it boosts my confidence at times when I’m stepping out of my comfort zone.
For you, it might be that cool hat, which makes people smile whenever you wear it. Or the little pebble you carry in your pocket, which grounds you when you’re speaking in public. Or that one song which always makes you feel like you can do anything!
I still have Bonnie Tyler on the brain. It’s a fantastic track, but .. poor girl … waiting till the end of the night for someone larger than life. Really? 30 odd years after this song was released, it doesn’t feel very empowering having to hang around doing nothing, while some streetwise Hercules gets the glory. No matter how groovy the chorus or the hairdos might be!
Whatever your musical or movie tastes, remember that the hero you are holding out for is ultimately YOU.
You are all that you need, to make the most of your life.
You have the ability to be your own hero. And you don’t need to be larger than life to do it.
If that hasn’t got you stepping up yet, then here’s a bit of Bowie to help save the day.