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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Trial by fire 

In a recent conversation with coach Julie Fuimano, she asked me where I grew up. That's always been a tricky question for me to answer, since throughout my childhood, on average we moved once per year. By the time I was 18, I had lived in sixteen cities, eight states, and two Canadian provinces. Julie's response to my brief residential summary was: "Oh, no wonder you are good at marketing."

She's right, of course. One of the reasons it has been possible for me to get to know a large number of people in the course of marketing my business is that I don't know another way to exist. My view of the world from an early age includes always meeting new people, and hopefully convincing them to like me. I wouldn't want to imply, though, that I was always good at it.

In fact, I didn't make friends easily as a child, which means with all that moving around, I ended up not having very many. It was actually pretty frightening always having to talk to strangers and being the "new kid" over and over again. But I thought that having friends looked like a pretty good deal, so I kept trying. By the time I became a teenager, I had started to learn the trick of it. Even though it was scary sometimes to reach out to new people, the rewards seemed worth the effort, so I swallowed my fear and did it anyway. The more I did it, the easier it got.

My conversation with Julie made me think. When we do something scary and not only survive, but get what we want by doing it, it seems to retrain our brains. The next time we are faced with a similar situation, we may be just as afraid, but since we overcame it once, it's easier to believe we can do it again. It is literally a learning experience, almost as if the neural pathways involved are being redrawn.

It suggests to me a reliable shortcut to becoming your truly heroic self. Just conquer the dragon once, and you'll be able to do it more easily forever after. Of course, you still have to do it the first time. But if you knew that once you were on the other side of that one frightening heroic deed, it would never be so scary again, that's a pretty strong incentive to walk through the fire.


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