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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One person can be more than enough 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I was searching for stories about ordinary people who became heroes by taking action to help hurricane victims. Instead of echoing criticism about the official response, I wanted to provide some positive examples of people who did what they could with whatever they had. One of the people I wrote about then was Sidney Ray, a Southern California woman who in just six days organized a group of volunteers to fill twelve semi trailers with donations for Katrina survivors.

Recently, Sidney wrote me with an update: "Since September 8th, we have sent out 60 trucks (a combination of 53' semi trailers and 24' box trucks) loaded with 900 pallets of goods -- food, water, baby supplies, clothing, dog food, etc. to families all over Louisiana and Mississippi." Wow.

Sidney's spontaneous effort has grown into a national mutual aid network called Relief Spark. It's an amazing example of what one motivated person can create. Here's a bit of the story in Sidney's own words: 'After reading the newspapers and watching the news on TV, I had this overwhelming feeling that I had to do something! I couldn't just sit around and watch this go by. After making a donation to the Red Cross and going out that evening; my mind was made up: I would go online and find volunteers willing to help me. Within 30 minutes I located my first volunteer in San Diego. 12 hours later I had my first donation drive set up and ready to go... By Sunday we had filled up 3 - 24 foot trucks that were trucked to our Van Nuys donation site. By Monday... 80 volunteers came out to help that evening (that was on Labor Day!) to prepare our boxes for 11 semi's that were supposed to be arriving on Tuesday... we continued to accept donated goods and volunteers showed up to help us out from all over California! By that evening, we had over 350 pallets of goods... and we had taken over the entire street!"

Right now Sidney is on the ground in New Orleans, helping families gut and rebuild their homes. Her goal for the month of March is to have 1000 volunteers come to Louisiana to work on rebuilding projects... and she already has 650 lined up. If you've ever wondered if one person could really make a difference, Sidney is one to remember.

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Face to face with the second step 

Years ago, someone gave me a Richard Stine greeting card showing a dog climbing a flight of stairs. His nose is pressed against the back of the staircase, his tongue hangs out, and the caption reads "face to face with the second step."

At the time I received this card, I was at a loss for what I was going to do next to earn a living. I had quit my job and rented an office in order to give myself a place to figure that out. I was working part-time as a corporate consultant, but I knew that wasn't the answer. The card expressed my state of mind exactly. I had the time; I had the space; I had a little money to spare; what was next?

I posted the card over my desk and stared at it daily, wondering what my next step was going to be. I wanted to do something important, something that would help people, something that would use my talents and skills more fully. I was all ready to do IT, but I just didn't know what IT was.

In my eight steps to becoming a hero, this wondering, waiting time is the heart of Step 2, Listening for the Call. For someone like myself with five fire signs in my astrological chart and a Myers-Briggs type ending in "J," not knowing what to do next was like being lost in the dark with no lantern, no map, and no watch.... and late for dinner. I felt an incredible urgency to be going somewhere and doing something. Every moment I didn't know my destination felt wasted and irrecoverable. But I was determined not to do what I had always done before, which was to simply take the next career option that appeared. This time, I was going to wait for inspiration. I was waiting to be called.

The hero's inspired call to action can take many different forms. It can be a nagging intuition, a sudden realization, a divine transmission, or a subtle wondering. It can strike out of the blue without warning, or come as the result of a deliberate process of mining one's thoughts, feelings, and muses for guidance. Sometimes you don't even know when it has arrived. You go to sleep one night without it, and wake up the next morning finding it there, as if it had always been.

For me at that time and place, the call that finally came was of the sudden realization variety. One moment I was lying in bed on a Sunday morning reading a magazine, and the next moment I knew what I was going to do. Within a week, I was headed down the path that ultimately resulted in my becoming a business coach. The magazine article triggered the inspiration, but what actually created it, I believe, was all those weeks and months of actively listening for it.

When you find yourself in a waiting, wondering place like this, how do you go about listening? Some people choose meditation; others journal; some pray; others draw or paint. You can learn more about yourself through assessment, participate in a personal growth weekend, work with a spiritual advisor, or explore your options with a coach. But the key is allowing open channels for the inspiration to enter. When you are listening for a particular sound, you're much more likely to hear it.

P.S. We'll be discussing the second step in my How to Become a Hero Discussion Forum on Feb 14 if you would like to join us.

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