How to Become a Hero c.j. hayden
   How to Become a Hero
   You Are the Champion the World Is Waiting For

   C.J. Hayden, MCC

Home | Resources | About C.J. | Contact

Second day at sea, Baja California 

Yesterday was like a visit to Mount Olympus. I spent the day indulging in more self-care activities than I normally do in a month. I went to a talk on collaging to plan your future with peak performance coach Linda Mercier, ate three healthy gourmet meals, took a yoga/pilates fusion class, swam and soaked in the Jacuzzi in a Thai-themed atrium where a statue of the Buddha overlooks the pool, walked a couple of miles around the promenade while listening to the Dalai Lama on tape, sat on the balcony embroidering, had tea with three of the lecturers traveling with the ship, danced to a jazz band with my sweetheart, and watched a song and dance extravaganza from front-row center seats with Dave and four good friends.

What would it be like, I wonder, to live a life with that much relaxation in it all the time? Would it be so enriching it couldn't help but stimulate my creativity, or such a distraction that all productive work would halt? I do notice even in just one day of such an intense focus on myself, that it takes an enormous amount of time to pay so much attention to me. It's a bit of a relief to realize that if I actually did spend as much time as I sometimes think I should in exercise, meditation, learning, etc., that there would hardly be a moment for anything else. It lets me off the hook from trying to make all that fit into just one life, which I do want to be a productive one.

And that is one of the most important functions of vacations, isn't it -- to give you a new perspective on everyday things.


On vacation 

I will be on vacation from Monday, Sept 22 until Tuesday, Oct 7. I'll be cruising from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale via the Panama Canal on the Island Princess. My sweetheart Dave and I will be traveling with four good friends, and our port calls will be Cabo San Lucas and Acapulco in Mexico, Puntarenas in Costa Rica, then through the Canal and a brief stop in Colon, Panama. We'll end with a day in Aruba and then fly home from Florida.

If I feel inspired, I may post some entries from the Internet cafe on the ship. Or not. If you don't hear from me, it probably means I'm having a great time.


How high can you go? 

Another topic that arose in Timo Navsky's Hero discussion group pertained to my suggestion that the first step on the path to becoming a hero was to put yourself in situations that evoke your higher self rather than your lower. Someone asked, "But how do you know what is your higher self?" Hmmm.

I suppose the easy answer is to say "trust your intuition" or something of the sort. But personally, I get frustrated by recipes that say, "bake until done." If I'm using a recipe, I want it to offer a bit more guidance than that. So here are some suggestions on the recipe for heroes.

Ask yourself where you are suffering right now. What situation or conditions are a thorn in your side? If you're feeling a vague dissatisfaction but can't pinpoint it, try using the Wheel of Life coaching tool to locate its source. When you've identified a point of discomfort, ask yourself if doing something about that pain would free you from worrying about yourself and create more expansiveness to turn your thoughts to helping others. If so, you may have identified a situation that needs to be changed to allow your higher self to emerge.

Another idea is to ask what's pissing you off right now. What situations or conditions really make you angry? Now, what can you do about changing those? If you are trapped in anger, your lower self is running the show. This is true even if your anger seems to be about hardships which plague people other than yourself. Use your anger as a symptom to uncover what needs to be addressed, but don't allow it to dictate your actions. This is rarely a sustainable path for the enlightened hero.

Looking for where you are suffering or what makes you angry are ways to identify what you might need to move away from. But you can also focus on what it is you need to move toward. Susan Thesenga, author of The Undefended Self says, "The higher self is our personal embodiment of and connection to the universal spirit that moves through all things. Meeting the higher self... is an experience usually accompanied by relief, as we feel we are coming home to our true identity, remembering who we truly are... In this expanded identity we find our center and ground."

Thesenga suggests that to locate our higher selves, we, "...begin with claiming those positive aspects of our personality which are aligned with truth, love, serenity, or beauty." I would add to this list some additional qualities essential for heroes: compassion, generosity, openness, conscientiousness, and increased awareness. When in doubt about which is the right direction, move toward people and situations that will bring out or increase these qualities in yourself. By doing so, you are grooming yourself to become a hero.

Labels: ,

Who gets to be a hero? 

My colleague Timo Navsky hosted a discussion group based on How to Become a Hero at her beautiful home in San Geronimo last Sunday. Timo first heard me speak on the topic at the Marin Coaches Alliance, and was intrigued enough to want to continue the conversation. Our group of eight had a wide-ranging discussion about my steps for becoming a hero, and as always I learned a great deal from hearing the perspectives of others.

An intriguing question that came up was that of how to define a hero. I've given my take on this in these entries by naming as a hero anyone who steps into their own greatness to be of service to others. If you have overcome obstacles -- external or internal -- in order to help other people, in my eyes you have become a hero. I've also suggested that to do this intentionally requires a certain level of enlightenment, and held up as the ideal the bodhisattva, who strives to become enlightened in order to work toward alleviating the suffering of all sentient beings.

But the question was raised: "Who decides what 'being of service' is?" Imagine, for example, that someone selflessly dedicates themselves to a cause you not only do not believe in, but vehemently oppose. If you are pro-choice, can you honor the heroism of someone who serves the right-to-life cause? If you believe homosexuality is a sin, can you respect someone who heroically works for gay rights? My, what thorny questions!

I considered this question while watching HBO's And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself this week. Pancho Villa was unquestionably a hero to the disenfranchised people of Mexico who he fought for and who fought for him. But to the wealthy class of his own and other countries, he was a villain who robbed and murdered innocent people. After the revolution he fought so hard for, Villa was assassinated, perhaps by old enemies, or perhaps by the new government who considered his legendary status a threat.

Was Villa a hero or a villain? And who gets to decide?

Labels: ,

On web radio today 

I'll be the guest today on The Coaching Show,"The Voice of Professional Coaching" on Internet Radio. On Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 3 PM Pacific, I'll be speaking with hosts Andrea Wylan CPCC, PCC, and Christopher McAuliffe on the topic of "Overcoming the Fear of Self-Promotion." To listen:

1. Go to, and click the "Listen Live" button at the top.

2. In the Microsoft Internet Explorer box, click Play. (You may need to wait a minute or two for the play to begin.)

3. Call in and join the conversation!

If you can't listen Tuesday, listen anytime in the archives.


The source of happiness 

"If we really want happiness, we must acknowledge that it comes about by taking care of other people."
    -- The Dalai Lama

It often seems that all of Western culture is dedicated to the pursuit of happiness. In the U.S. Declaration of Independence, we claim it as an unalienable right. But for many, this pursuit seems to be about their own happiness, with little heed for the greater good. I'm not accusing an entire hemisphere of behaving selfishly (although perhaps I should), but rather of being self-absorbed. I see a difference.

If the happiness you pursue is limited to your own enjoyment of life, achieving your goals rarely produces lasting joy. When all of your needs and most of your wants are satisfied, then what? The result is the existential emptiness described by so many who have achieved material success, but are lacking a deeper meaning for their lives.

What if the answer were as simple as working for the happiness of others instead of your own? A simple beginning is devoting yourself to the happiness of those closest to you. By focusing on people you already know and love, you can develop your spirit of compassion. The stronger your compassion becomes, the further it can stretch. Ultimately, you will develop the capacity to work for the benefit of not only strangers, but even enemies.

The Dalai Lama says, "If each of us, from the depth of our hearts, were to cultivate a mind wishing to benefit other people... then we would gain a strong sense of confidence that would put our minds at ease. When we have that kind of calmness within our minds, even if the whole external environment appears to turn against us... it will not disturb our mental calm." Sounds like happiness to me.

Labels: , ,

How to Become a Hero was just awarded 4 blogging stars (out of 5) by The Weblog Review. Reviewer Brendan Creecy says, "C.J. talks about... many different faiths and philosophies and provides many informative links," and calls Hero "a great read." Thanks, Brendan!



"Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another."
    -- Walter Elliott

The 7th and final step in my recipe for becoming a hero is Staying the Course. The least glamorous of the steps, I find it is also the most difficult. Having taken any number of transformational weekend workshops, I know all too well the hero's challenge of facing the ordinariness of Monday morning.

I have always considered perseverance to be one of my most valuable qualities. The strength of the personal value I call "whatever-it-takes" has enabled me to first survive and then succeed. But as I have made my way up Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs through the course of my life, staying on task has actually become harder instead of easier.

When I was a teenage runaway, living on the street, my goals were simple. When I woke up in the morning, I was hungry. First I needed to find either free food or spare change to buy food, usually acquired by collecting bottles or panhandling. Then I had to figure out where I would sleep that night. The rest of my day was organized around being in the right place at the right time to get a free meal and a safe place to sleep, which often involved walking many miles. There was no room for self-pity; my continued existence depended on putting one foot in front of the other.

As my life improved and I moved up Maslow's pyramid from seeking food and shelter to looking for love, esteem, and ultimately, self-actualization, I found that, paradoxically, staying on track with my goals grew more difficult. Maslow said, "As one desire is satisfied, another pops up to take its place." But the desire for love and esteem is a craving rather than a compulsion; the pull toward self-actualization is a wish and not a necessity. Self-actualization -- in Maslow's words, "the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming" -- is rarely a comfortable process. Once achieving my goals began to lead in the direction of discomfort instead of toward more comfort, it became much more of a challenge to keep reaching for them.

"Bear in mind, if you are going to amount to anything, that your success does not depend upon the brilliance and the impetuosity with which you take hold, but upon the ever lasting and sanctified bull doggedness with which you hang on after you have taken hold."
    -- Dr. A. B. Meldrum

If you are having difficulty in staying the course today, try re-inspiring yourself with more pithy quotes about perseverance.

Labels: ,

New weblog showcase 

"How to Become a Hero" is featured this week in the new weblog showcase sponsored by The Truth Laid Bear. If you enjoy this blog and would like to vote for me in the showcase, you must be a blog author yourself. All you need to do is link to my sample blog entry in your own blog sometime before this Sunday. Be sure that your blog is listed in the Blogosphere Ecosystem (a good idea anyway to attract readers to your blog). You can get more details about the showcase here.

My own votes for the showcase are a first prize for Indigo Ocean - Currents of Mind, first runner-up for Blogonaut, and honorable mention for

And if you have been thinking about starting a blog of your own, but haven't done it yet, you can get started blogging for free in minutes at Blogger or Xanga.


Helping entrepreneurs around the globe 

My friend and colleague Steven Van Yoder has launched a fascinating project to help micro-entrepreneurs in the developing world get started. Steve is the author of Get Slightly Famous, and he's using the principles in his book to assist new entrepreneurs in India and Bali.

"This project is my book brought to life," says Steve. "As a long-time journalist, I've traveled and seen the human costs of poverty and economic hardships brought on by a rapidly changing global economy, especially to people in the developing world."

Steve is posting periodic reports during his current trip, detailing his efforts to mentor a Balinese cab driver and Indian virtual assistant. This is just the sort of heroic project I love to hear about, showing what one person can do to make a difference in the world.

P.S. If you've been missing your email updates from "How to Become a Hero," it's because the Bloglet subscription service has been down since Aug. 10. It appears to be working again now. Please visit the site to see what you have missed.

Labels: , ,

Home | Resources | About C.J. | Contact