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

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What if we were all heroes? 

Thanks to a tip from my friend and colleague Maggie Oman Shannon, I recently read the article Hero Worship by Marie Russell. Marie points out that there are two dictionary definitions for the word hero: 1) a person of great courage and nobility, or one admired for his exploits, and 2) the central character in a novel or play. By this second definition, Marie says, "...we are all heroes, or central figures in our own play" and "... if we are the hero, then we can take charge of the situation and plunge ahead and make changes."

What a sense of possibility this idea creates! Instead of living our lives as if they were dictated by someone else's master script, we can take matters into our own hands and change the plot. In my own experience, I have discovered that this often requires questioning all assumptions, especially those that begin with someone else saying, "You can't do that."

At a number of critical points in my life, I have been told that what I wanted to do was impossible. For example, "You can't get a good job without a college degree." This piece of supposedly common wisdom could have defeated me as it has a number of other people I know. The people who say this often have good intentions -- they are trying to convince you to get or complete your degree. I will admit that having one does make finding a well-paying professional job considerably easier. But not having one doesn't make that impossible... unless of course you believe that it is.

Once you have decided that a task or goal is impossible, it inevitably is so. But if you continue to believe in the possibility of it, there is always something else you can try. As Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're usually right."

Depending on your point of view, you might label the hero's persistence in trying to do the impossible as plucky and creative, or stubborn and misguided. And perhaps I am just ornery, but when someone tells me I can't do something, my natural reaction is to start figuring out how I can. My response to the "no degree no job" proclamation was to ignore the assumption, and instead ask, "How do people without college degrees get good jobs?"

For me, the answer was acquiring a technical skill. I learned to program computers, got a well-paying job, and as a result was able to eventually get a bachelor's degree because I was earning enough to support myself. But I couldn't have done it without believing in the possibility. In Marie's words, "...we must first accept the possibility that we too are a super hero... before being able to make it come true."

If you are already the hero in your own life, you have the power to change it. As Marie says, "If you are waiting for someone else to make a difference in your life (to rescue you, to save you, to make your life better, to make you whole), then you are wasting your time. No one but you can make your dreams come true."

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