Sunday, November 4, 2007

Who Is Your Hero?

Who Is Your Hero? (How Heroes and Heroines Influence Our Life Purpose.)

Do you have a hero?

I recently completed a personality test online, and one of their questions intrigued me:

"Who are your heroes?"

Actually, it was worded as MENTOR. But, I see a mentor as a hero, or heroine. I struggled with this question for a bit, then decided I knew who my heroes were: Jesus Christ, Buddha, Tony Robbins, Amelia Earhart, Anastasia, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Winston Churchill, and so forth. I pretty much tend to consider my heroes and mentors as people who stood for what they believed in. There's also a list of entrepreneurs who are my heroes, which probably includes Steve Jobs, Larry Page & Sergey Brin of Google, Kevin Rose (, Richard Branson (love him), and others. I even think I added my own father and mother to the list. The question made me realize that who we choose as heroes might be people who inspire us to do great things. These might be the people who you model yourself after, or they are people who strove to build something. They might just be people whose values or love we really appreciate. An example would be a teacher. My second grade teacher, David Wilson, was such a man. I just remember him being really fun, smart, loving, and a great guy who embraced each student's special talents in a way no other teacher ever did before or since. Do you know people like this?

Nevertheless, the study of mentors, both heroes and heroines, caused me to realize that who we choose as mentors is likely a contributor to how we manifest our purpose.

Who are YOUR heroes and heroines?

In some cases, a hero or heroine might be a group of people, such as firefighter, astronaut, politician, music-star, rock star, entrepreneur, philosopher, religious or spiritual leader, or any other type of person who rises to notoriety in their chosen professional or calling. To me, those who follow their calling in the most complete and sacrificial way are those who are most likely to become a hero. Who do you consider a hero? Is it a person? A group of people? Are they dead or alive?

If you consider who your heroes and heroines of life might be, you might be surprised to find that most of these great heroes and heroines had something in common. If you review the following list of qualities, you will note the many of your heroes had qualities that, if we could emulate, would probably cause US to become great, too.

Here is the list of positive power qualities I culled from my list of mentors:

1. Believed in making a positive difference.
2. Saw their life as part of that mission.
3. Created or received a vision for their life (purpose).
4. Took action.
5. Were told they couldn't do it or faced other persecution.
6. Took unusual risks to succeed, in spite of that opposition or persecution.
7. May have failed at first, but learned and grew from failure.
8. Ultimately succeeded in realizing their vision.
9. Impacted many people.
10. Shared their knowledge, riches, and love with others.

Take anyone great from history, and you will find a similar blueprint to his or her life story.

Here are some examples:

Ella Fitzgerald: She wanted to be a dancer from an early age. She entered a contest at the Apollo Theater in 1934, when she was 16, dressed in cast-off clothes and wearing men's boots, hoping to gain some attention as a dancer. Ella experienced stage fright and couldn't move. "I got out there and I saw all the people I just lost my nerve," Ella said, "And the man said, 'well, you're out here, do something!' So, I tried to sing." She only knew a few songs but started singing Connee Boswell's "Judy," and "The Object of My Affection." She won $25.00 in the contest. The effects of that night not only established her as a new, brilliant vocalist, but also marked the Apollo as a primary theater since that time. However, Ella didn't have an easy time leading big bands. Duke Ellington's band was about the only band that could afford a singer. Chick Webb's big band gave her a try out. She passed Chick’s test in singing her few songs. But she still had to impress the band's manager, Moe Gale. Gale looked at Ella and said "Ah no, Chick. No, no!"

"Listen to the voice," Chick said, "Don't look at her." Can you imagine being judged on your gender, race, looks, age, or appearance? Well, many people are ruled out based upon those things, and Ella was not an exception to these prejudices. However, Moe was speechless when he heard the young girl sing. She sang in Chick’s orchestra and then took some risks by singing nursery songs, like "A Tisket-A Tasket" that led to huge success. Yet, despite numerous awards, appearances on television shows, and accolades from the finest of the world’s musicians, writers, performers, and journalists, Ella was shy – so shy she often could not speak publicly. Yet, she was also known to have a huge heart. She overcame diabetes and toured until shortly before her death in 1996. Ella impacted people from around the world and her vast collection of music recordings continues to impact singers, musicians, and music-lovers across the world. Her fans fondly referred to Ella as the First Lady of Song and the First Lady of Swing.

Winston Churchill: He believed in becoming a great speaker and leader. He believed in learning from history. He believed in perseverance. He saw standing up to England’s enemies (both WWI and Hitler in WWII) as the primary objective of the British. Winston took part in his vision as leader of his people. He often flew in the face of opposition in how he built the British Navy and deployed resistance, but certainly wouldn't be accused of inaction. He was a zealous man. He was told he could not win. His response: "we will NEVER surrender." He stood on rooftops during the bombing raids of London in defiance of Hitler’s attacks. He had failures, even after D-Day, but from D-Day onward the Allies pushed Germany until Churchill won the war. He later went down as one of the greatest orators in history. One of his most well-known speeches: "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense."

Apostle Paul: believed his life was about persecuting the Christians, until one day he had a dream (vision) where he saw Christ, or an angel of Christ, telling him to build the church. He then went about that mission to the point where a church failed, trusted companions left him, and at times was flogged, beaten, stoned, sunk (his ship went down on one journey), and was imprisoned multiple times. One time the bars opened during an earthquake and he got out. He put his life in danger for his purpose. It wasn't about what made him happy; rather, it was what DROVE HIM passionately, in spite of all challenges, to accomplish his aim, not in destination, but in daily, hourly action.

Joan of Arc: She saw her life as a mission for God. She received visions through voices calling her to be a maiden leading her people in France out of bondage to the English. She took action when she went to Dauphin to gain control of the army. She led her people, in spite of considerable opposition. The King withdrew his support for her (reason unclear). Despite this, she led an army of over 50,000 against the English, winning several battles. She eventually was captured and held hostage for a year. Unfortunately, she was handed from Burgundy to the English, who were ruthless in their torture, trial, and execution by trying Joan as a Witch and heretic, and then burning her at the stake. Nevertheless, Joan went down in history as a martyr for her cause, her people, and her God. She continues to impact people to this day.

The story, as it pertains to conviction, sense of values, and strength of purpose, is similar for almost anyone great in history you may choose: Marie Antoinette, Amelia Earhart, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, George Washington, Gandhi, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jesus Christ, Buddha, King Solomon, and so on.

Note that each of these people could be described as PROACTIVE in LIVING THEIR PURPOSE, ABSOLUTE in their CONVICTIONS, and IRON-CLAD in their PERSONAL VALUES.

Can you say that about your own self?

Who are your heroes and heroines? How do your heroes and heroines influence your life? Compare the traits of your heroes and heroines with the list of traits above. How do they compare? What similarities can you find in their life purpose?

In the Bhagavad-Gita, the warrior Arjuna, interacts with his charioteer, Krishna, who is a Poet speaking on behalf of God. Arjuna is about to do battle with his kinsmen and asks Krishna, his charioteer to take him out to survey the battle lines. As he does so, Arjuna loses heart and thinks it would be too painful to attack his former brothers and friends. In encouraging Arjuna, Krishna shares insight into the meaning of life. One of these insights is the insight of yoga (skill in action):

"…You have a right to your actions,
but never to your actions' fruits.
Act for the action's sake.
And do not be attached to inaction.

Self-possessed, resolute, act
without any thought of results,
open to success or failure.
This equanimity is yoga.

…The wise man lets go of all
Results, whether good or bad,
And is focused on the action alone.
Yoga is skill in actions." [2.45, 2.47-50]

The key to the seeker (wise man or woman) is coming from a place of purpose, and then going beyond the goals, results, and fruits of efforts, with the intention placed solely on CONSISTENT COMMITTED ACTION. If you make a decision you've committed to LIVING the purpose you set out upon. This is the essence of a true committed decision. If you are truly committed to your purpose you MUST act. The skill in your actions will determine your own personal greatness.

Are you a reactive or proactive person?

a. Do I see my life as making a positive difference? YES ___ NO ___
b. Do I understand my mission for my life? YES ___ NO ___
c. Do I seek other people’s approval before acting? YES ___ NO ___
d. Do I listen to criticism and quit when rejected? YES ___ NO ___
e. Do I learn from failures and try again? YES ___ NO ___
f. Do I succeed in my aspirations? YES ___ NO ___
g. Have I failed to act on ideas until others succeed? YES ___ NO ___

The importance of moving from reactive to proactive is this point that I make in pretty much ALL of my coaching with people and consulting with business leaders. At some point, it all comes down to how we ACT. And reaction is passive. Passivity leads to failure; in that we have released the outcome to outside circumstance. Being PROACTIVE leads to success; in that we have impressed our will through action and can then release the outcome because we have done our part. If you want to succeed, be proactive. Ascribe to the traits and talents of your mentors, both heroes and heroines, and see if you don't live a life both on purpose and full of interesting pursuits.


Learn more: Do you have a question relating to heroes, heroines, and your own life purpose? Please email us at info (at) AspireNow (dot) com or contact us at 805-459-6939.

Post by Scott Andrews, Founder of AspireNow.

Note: this article contains information Copyright © 1999-2007 by AspireNow. You may reprint this article if you copy in full with all links attached (included), including this Copyright.

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Has this post inspired you? I invite you to share it with others. If you have stories your own heroes, please share in our comments (below).


liz said...

this was just beautiful

BODY Official Band said...

Hi Liz,

I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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