Imaginary heroes always reigned in abundance when I was growing up. What do I mean by imaginary? You know, those characters in TV shows or books that weren’t real people, they were fictional. As a kid/ young adult I was a misfit & nerd, so for me, they were typically of the Captain Janeway-Dana Scully-Lara Croft variety.
Naturally drawn to intelligent and powerful female characters, I generally wound up disappointed when my daily life didn’t live up to theirs. I mean, why wasn’t I having major accomplishments such as dangerously negotiating with alien races, exposing far-reaching government conspiracies, or recovering world-altering relics from the clutches of the Illuminati???
A friend once told me that she feels bad about herself after sitting through an action movie with a powerful female lead because she isn’t doing any of the amazing things the chick in the movie is.
That sounded familiar.
Upon closer examination, somehow it was turning out that my heroes, those great people I am supposed to look up to, were making me consistently feel worse about myself, effectively debilitating my ability to produce motivation (self-esteem and motivation are intimately connected). This seemed like a paradox in my mind.
Until I realized, that’s exactly the problem with the imaginary heroes. THEY ARE IMAGINARY!
Yet another close friend enjoys the belief that life is like a movie. And in the sweeping, epic sort of way, it’s a cute belief, if naive. Characters in fiction have it easy; all of their variables are under the control of the writer and everything will always turn out just the way it’s supposed to.
But I think we all know that for those of us wading through a non-fiction life, things work a little differently. Variables and circumstances change in an instant to blindside you (sometimes in a good way, sometimes not) and everything can end up turned on its head. I’ve never found a part of life where this didn’t exist – from plans to people to jobs to living circumstance, the list could go on and on.
And that’s the incredible power of the real life heroes. THEY FAIL.
The real life hero is such an integral character in our lives. He or she can be living the life you strive for while still keeping intact that essential trait that allows a connection to them on the most basic level – human imperfection. One of the most important parts of life is falling down. As creatures of growth and change we inarguably learn more from our failures than our successes, and growing pains as they may be, they almost always leave some part (if not all) of us torn down to be rebuilt for the better.
Certainly lots of folks exist out there who have had or now have their real life heroes. Maybe as a kid you wanted to throw a pass like John Elway or walk on the moon like Neil Armstrong. Some people might wish to ask Donald Trump how to make money and yet others would ask Kim Karshidan how to become famous from…..well, nothing.
But those who choose less-walked paths generally have a harder time finding real life heroes because of just that reason - we’re on a different path. Therefore most of us aren’t going to find our inspiration in the same places as the majority.
The funny thing was, once I really started looking for the “real-life” type of hero, MAN did they come out in droves! Chris Guillebeau, Cody McKibben, Sean Ogle, and Farnoosh Brock just to name a few, the discovery of one always seemed to lead to the next and then the next…..it’s pleasantly surprising just how quickly a real sense of community starts to emerge.
And still the greatest rescue value of real life heroes takes place at that moment when you find yourself floundering. I don’t care how smart, powerful, or well established a person is, as we’re all human, we’re all prone to lose our way from time to time. Real life heroes can help pull us up from the depths of confusion and self doubt; they can provide a light and a path to help us dust ourselves off from the fall and resume our walk through life.
All of this is precisely why I’ll be attending the World Domination Summit in Portland this July. Sounds intense huh? Check it out here: worlddominationsummit.com
A gathering of entrepreneurs, digital nomads, free-thinkers, and alternative lifestylists from all over the globe, featuring most if not all of my personal heroes? Damn right I’ll be there!
One of those personal heroes I mentioned, Chris Guillebeau, just said in an email today, “get to know the people who inspire you.” And so that is step 2; once you find your heroes, get to know them, well & personally. If the option presents itself, build relationships with them. Do everything you can to integrate what you are doing into their world. Because the greatest influences in your life, and ultimately the transformations you’ll make, will be what you surround yourself with.
Hence step 3. Become them.
Who are your real life heroes? How did you find them? Please share with other readers in the comments section!
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Filed under: Everyday Life