Who are your heroes? If you think about it, you’ll see that your heroes say a lot about how you view the world. And if you change the way you view your heroes, you will change the way you view yourself.
Who are your heroes? What are they known for? Abilities? The abilities hero has a unique, raw talent like a contortionist or medium. Is your hero someone who achieved something great like breaking a world record or amassing a fortune? Or perhaps your heroes are people who are underdogs. They overcome great odds to do what others think is impossible (like walking after breaking your back or being the first female Congress person).
Heroes can also be game changers like Julius Caesar, Nelson Mandela, or Elvis. They can be those who defy authority like Geronimo, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse. Some heroes are known for being unconventional like Mae West or Harvey Milk.
When we make someone into a hero, we generally put them on a pedestal. We ignore their humanity and idolize them for a trait, belief, or deed. It distances them from us because we, after all, are only mortal. We cannot do what they have done and pale in comparison.
But what if we were to see our heroes as fallible human beings while still admiring and appreciating their traits, abilities, and accomplishments? Wouldn’t that be a paradigm shift?
Consider this. Did you know that Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Edgar Cayce were adulterers? Does that diminish their accomplishments? Did you know that Susan B. Anthony and Gandhi were racists? Does the fact that Mae West profited by using comedy and sex to speak up for sexual liberation, women and gay rights make her less of a hero? Are Geronimo, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse less heroic for ultimately surrendering?
Everyone is imperfect. Everyone has a bad moment and a dark side. And everyone is also deeply beautiful inside because we’re complex, multifaceted creatures who are always changing. When you see your heroes as one dimensional, you make yourself blind to all the other pieces that make them who they are. You take away their wholeness. Let them be all of who they are.
There is a big difference between “I appreciate who you are” and “I appreciate what you did.” When you separate deeds from identity, you give yourself the chance to see the goodness in all people – including yourself. When everyone is basically good in your eyes, you may find a lot more joy in your life. You may find it easier to connect with other people. You might even start to appreciate people and deeds that escaped your notice before.
While it’s healthy to reward achievement and acknowledge accomplishments, people aren’t worthy because of the great things that they do. They aren’t unworthy because of the unhealthy things that they do. We’re all worthy just because we are.
We’re all heroes. We all have something special inside of us. Some serve in quiet ways while others make a big splash. It takes a huge foundation to support the guy at the top. Every person is needed to do his role, and none are unimportant. So when you think about where you are in the pecking order, don’t make anyone more important than yourself. We’re all heroes in our own way.