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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Take the pledge in 2006 

Shel Horowitz wants to change the world. Shel is the author of Principled Profit: Marketing that Puts People First, and he's started a campaign to get 25,000 people to sign his Ethical Business Pledge. Shel believes that businesses should "look at the triple bottom line: financial, environmental, and social" in all their business practices.

In the pledge, business owners and their employees are asked to support this bottom line, to not tolerate crooked practices on the part of anyone their business deals with, and to share this message with others. Also in the pledge is the request to treat all stakeholders "with compassion, and with a commitment to service."

Compassion and service are two of the hallmarks of the hero, who when faced with a choice, puts the needs of others -- and the best interests of the community -- first. Shel envisions a world where a corporate culture built on strong ethics not only refuses to tolerate unprincipled behavior, but directly addresses issues that arise out of seeking only to maximize profit: unfair labor practices, the degradation of natural resources, damage to the environment, and the propping up of repressive governments.

If you'd like to support Shel's campaign, you can sign the pledge online. Note that Shel asks you to share his message with 100 other people in business when you do. Even if you don't decide to sign, Shel's 12 ways to reach 100 people are worth studying as an excellent model for getting your message across for any issue you care about.

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Let's talk about developing your heroic qualities 

Starting in January, I'll be offering something new to the readers of this blog -- a chance to get together once a month and discuss some of the ideas I've been sharing here. The How to Become a Hero Discussion Forum will meet by teleconference on the 2nd Tuesday of each month from 9-10 AM Pacific (12-1 PM Eastern, 5-6 PM GMT). Each month, we'll discuss one of my eight steps to becoming a hero to jointly further our learning. All coaches, counselors, teachers, writers, healers, leaders, spiritual guides, and seekers are welcome to participate. There is a small fee to join us for any or all of the eight monthly sessions.

Our first meeting will be focused on Step 1, Develop Your Heroic Qualities. This first step was suggested by Joseph Campbell in one of his classic interviews with Bill Moyers. Even if you do not yet know what your heroic quest will be, you can prepare yourself for it. The way to begin is by putting yourself in situations that evoke your higher self rather than your lower.

What is the higher self and how do we evoke it? 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, perhaps compassion, generosity, openness, conscientiousness, and increased awareness.

Here's an example of how this step has worked for me. In the last couple of years before I became a coach, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. First I quit my job to become a consultant. I didn't think that was what I really wanted, but the job I had was definitely evoking my lower self, i.e., making me frustrated and angry. By leaving it, I was released from an overwhelming negative influence. Next, I opened an office. I didn't know what I was going to do there -- my consulting gigs were all on site -- but I felt strongly that I needed that space to do whatever would come next. What I found was that the office evoked my higher self. When I went there, I became focused and creative, even visionary. Getting that office led directly to my discovery of the path of coaching and everything that followed.

Often the way to determine what situations need to change for your heroic qualities to emerge is to look at what makes you act your least heroic. This is quite a different process from examining all the reasons you are not taking action on your dreams. It's easy to get bogged down in the why-nots like "I don't have enough money, time, help, etc." Don't go there. Instead, ask yourself what circumstances most often make you act in negative or petty ways, perhaps expressing anger, resentment, jealousy, selfishness, dishonesty, cruelty, carelessness, discontent, or frustration. Then set about changing those circumstances.

Another means of accomplishing this step is to figure out what needs to be added to your life instead of focusing on what should be eliminated. If helping others makes you feel better about the world and yourself, find a new way to be of service. If expressing your creativity makes you feel more focused and alive, build in creative time for yourself on a regular basis.

As a general approach for taking this first step, I might suggest a combination of inspiration and perspiration. For inspiration, read stories, watch films, or listen to music that reminds you of your favorite heroic qualities. You might read a biography of Joan of Arc, watch Gandhi, or listen to Neil Young's Let's Roll. The perspiration part is putting some new habits into practice that will support you in evoking your higher self. Some useful resources here might be Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, Mark Forster's Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play, or Joan Friedlander's Take the Busyness out of Business.

If a lively conversation about this topic sounds like fun to you, please consider joining me on January 10 for our first discussion.

P.S. If you'd like to hear a talk I gave recently on the eight steps (hosted by Eva Gregory's Leading Edge Living), you can listen to streaming audio here or download the file on MP3 here.


The hero's holiday gift giving guide 

Here in the first week of December, the thoughts of many are turning to holiday gift-giving. Why not use your holiday gifts to make the world a better place? By making your purchases from nonprofit collectives, social enterprises, and fair trade organizations, you can give a gift to the people on your list and the global community at the same time. Here are some sources for holiday gifts that will help to make the world a better place:

Global Exchange - At their Fair Trade Online Store, you can purchase crafts, clothing, jewelry, gift baskets, and more from importers and producers around the world who adhere to fair trade guidelines, providing their workers with a living wage and safe working conditions, and following environmentally sustainable practices. (I ordered several items for my gift list from them, which arrived within days and were as beautiful as they looked in the catalog.)

Marketplace India - Support economic development for disadvantaged women in India by purchasing beautiful clothing and linens manufactured by local cooperatives. Gift certificates are also available.

Appalachian Baby Design - If there are babies on your gift list, shop for clothing and blankets from this nonprofit, which has devoted itself to making machine knitting a sustainable, home-based industry for women in rural Appalachia.

Southwest Indian Foundation - Shop from a huge catalog of jewelry, clothing, ceramics, housewares, food gifts, and much more to support community development, affordable housing, and alcohol counseling for Native American families in the Navajo, Zuni and Hopi tribes.

Make Piece - Purchase one-of-a-kind, handmade jewelry made by low-income women in the Washington DC area.

The Enterprising Kitchen - These soaps, bath salts and other spa products are made by low-income Chicago women recovering from substance abuse and homelessness.

Women's Bean Project - Help Denver women break the cycle of poverty and unemployment by purchasing these delicious soup, bread, sauce, and beverage mixes.

Fair Trade Certified - Coffee, tea and chocolate are marvelous presents for the hard-to-buy-for names on your list, and make excellent client gifts. Look at your local health food store or progressive market for products that carry the fair trade certified labels from TransFair USA or Fair Trade Federation.

Heifer International - For the person who has everything, give them a cow... or a goat, llama, or water buffalo. Make a donation to Heifer and they will purchase farm animals to help needy families around the world earn their own livelihood. You will receive a beautiful "honor card" to give the recipient explaining the donation you made in their honor. For the last-minute giftgiver, honor cards are also available by email.

Most online stores will guarantee holiday delivery if you order by Dec. 10, so pull out your credit card this week and start saving the world.

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