“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” —Carl Jung
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 there’s been a lot of talk about heroes. Almost every business that stayed open during the lockdown hung signs proclaiming “heroes work here“.
Overnight the invisible infrastructure of our society, the people who keep our systems running— grocery workers, delivery drivers, power, water, healthcare workers——were suddenly elevated to the status of hero and rightfully so.
[Shouldn’t we be thanking these people every day, regardless of a pandemic? The fact that we wake up in the morning and the lights & water work is a miracle. But that’s a separate blog. Back to heroes.]
I started thinking about how an ordinary pizza delivery guy could suddenly become a hero.
How does that happen? What is a hero? Why do we need heroes?
I started asking myself these questions, did some research, and I found/had a few interesting thoughts/ideas that I wanted to share.
1. You’ll Need A Lot Of Heroes
What is a hero?
A hero is a person (real or fictional) who exhibits certain characteristics that we wish to emulate—to aspire to. Some heroes exhibit courage & strength while others are compassionate and selfless.
These unique traits are what make the hero.
Everyday we act out the traits of our heroes.
We do this either consciously or unconsciously. Whether you’re a 10 year old kid acting out Luke Skywalker, or a 60 year old kid acting out the Marlboro Man—we are all acting out the traits, powers, ideals, and characteristics of our heroes.
So I thought to myself, “you’ll need a lot of heroes”. Because the more heroes you have, the more traits you can emulate.
I have art heroes, philosophy heroes, spiritual heroes, fitness heroes, entreprenurial heroes, intellectual heroes, photography heroes, musical heroes, literary heroes, and so on and so forth.
I have people that I aspire to be like in many dimensions of my life. It’s good to have an aim—something to work towards. I think having a lot of heroes is a good aim. Find something you like, something you’re good at, then find the heroes in that field. Study them, learn about their lives, and try to manifest their skills & talents into your own life.
The world is quickly turning into an unpredictable & scary place. You’re going to need a lot of heroes to help guide you through the chaos.
2. You Get To Choose Your Heroes
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” —Carl Jung
Maybe you think it’s childish to emulate a comic book character. But like I said earlier, we all act out some hero whether consciously or unconsciously. That’s because the idea of the hero is rooted deep in our psyche.
It’s the story of the man who goes out and confronts the dragon, bringing back the gold (knowledge) and sharing it with the tribe. The idea of a hero is an archetype—a pattern that emerges out of every story.
“The end of the hero’s journey is once you go into the darkness and find something of value, the next thing to do is to bring it back and distribute it within the community.” —Jordan Peterson
It’s why Hollywood is making billions from comic book movies. These are archetypical themes that have been told for 1000’s of years. They resonate deep within our unconscious minds.
So whether your hero wears a cape or a pair of basketball shorts—it’s not the person that matters, it’s the actions that you are emulating.
You get to choose the actions.
What super power are you expressing?
What archetypal characteristic, trait, ideal are you manifesting?
3. Be Purposeful With Who You Emulate
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” —Carl Jung
Think about who you want to emulate.
Actually take some time and think about it. It’s kind of important. Remember, if you aren’t choosing who to emulate, you’ll just end up unconsciously acting out what you see in pop culture, or worse—whatever is on the news.
Make a list——be purposeful in who you choose to emulate.
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” —Carl Jung
List your top 10 heroes. Then make a sublist for each characteristic that you wish to aspire to.
Hang up photos, quotes, goals—things that will remind you of who you are aspiring to be.
Let me give you an example & I’m going to be as juvenile & simplistic as possible.
One of my heroes is Spider-Man.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” —Stan Lee
Peter Parker is not a real person. But the characteristics that make up Spider-Man are real and can be acted out.
Here are some of his traits that I try to manifest:
- Does what is right, even when it’s hard.
Whether you’re 5 or 35, I think these are great goals to embody.
Some of my other heroes in no particular order:
- Elliott Erwitt
- Jordan Peterson
- Joe Rogan
- Jocko Willink
- Eric Kim
- Marcas Aurelius
- Charles Bukowski
- Miles Davis
- Henry Miller
- Stan Lee
- Graham Hancock
- Steven Pressfield
- Anne Lamott
- The Apostle Paul
- Catherine Leroy
- Jack Kerouac
- Henri Cartier-Bresson
- Vivian Maier
- Ben Gibbard
- Christopher Ryan
- Rolf Potts
- Lee Freidlander
- Robert Frank
- Kurt Vonnegut
- Tim Ferriss
- Gary Vaynerchuk
- David Turnley
- Hunter S. Thompson
- Ernest Hemingway
- Dan Carlin
- Katniss Everdeen
- Henry David Thoreau
- Michael Mathews
And many many more. Like I said, you’ll need a lot of heroes. I’m always on the lookout for more.
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” —Marcus Aurelius
Along with the list of people that you want to emulate—you should also keep a list of people that you don’t want to emulate.
I have several people in my life that I don’t want to be like—sometimes these individuals can teach us just as much as the heroes that we aspire to be.
Take a look around you, take a look at yourself—are you acting out the traits of your heroes, or your villains?
4. You Can Be A Hero
“I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.” —Bob Dylan
If you haven’t noticed, we’re living through some scary times. You could even go so far as to say that we are in dire need of leadership—of heroes.
It’s my belief that change happens on an individual level. The world needs heroes. The world needs people who are willing to step up and take on the challenges that we face today. Governments aren’t going to change the world. Congress isn’t going to change the world. Individuals will change the world.
We need heroes.
“There is only one who is all powerful, and his greatest weapon is love.” —
At the beginning of this blog I pointed out the signs at grocery stores, nursing homes, and factories proclaiming, “heroes work here”. These are ordinary people who have chosen to do their jobs during an extraordinary time.
You can choose your own set of powers, traits, ideals. You can manifest them into reality.
You can be a hero.
You can be something for others to aspire to be.