Where Are Our Heroes?

This is an example of an article written by Jim Feldman for a publication or newsletter. Jim is an author, keynote speaker and consultant who writes and speaks about Change Management, Customer Service and Innovative Problem Solving. Contact us about using Jim as an author, interview or speaker at 312-527-9111.

photo credit: Anna Fischer

You can’t be enthusiastic about our leaders or heroes today, at least not if you read a paper or watch the news.

Travis Henry, the star NFL running back for the Denver Broncos with nine children by nine women in four southern states has to be taken to court to pay support for seven of them. This even though the seven-year veteran signed a new $25 million dollar contract with the Broncos.

Senator Larry Craig’s bathroom bust highlights both the nightly cable news programs and political hypocrisy.

New York Knicks Coach Isiah Thomas was found guilty of sexual harassment and his team owner was fined for allowing it.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, in my opinion, should not only serve the maximum sentence, but be made an example of to other ‘heroes’ that our faith can’t be discarded so easily.

And then there is President George Bush and his advisors who make the news everyday with concerns that his legacy will be tarnished by our continued involvement in an unpopular war.

On the other hand, there are the brave men and women of our armed forces who volunteered in good faith to fight that war, putting their lives on the line not for political expediency, but for their beliefs.

We hear about New Yorker Wesley Autry, who jumped into the path of an oncoming subway to save someone who had fallen on the tracks. And we read of a passerby that dove into raging rapids to save a dog that fell into the water from an overhead bridge.

What I see and hear is that our real ‘heroes’ are not the ones that we have come to expect to be heroic. Instead, our ‘heroes’ are the everyday, ordinary people among us who leap into action when the need arises, making a difference in the lives of others at the possible expense of their own well being.

We build up our heroes ignoring that they possess the same shortcomings as the rest of us. Then we become are upset when their imperfections appear. But when we find a real hero in our business, one who goes beyond the expected to make a real difference, what do we do to honor them? Often nothing. We just assume that they are obligated to do what they do because they get paid for it. Yet someone who can throw a football or dunk a basketball is paid millions, has ‘hero’ status thrust upon them and usually disappoints us, not only because we too soon learn that they are not superhuman, but just as soon learn they don’t care.

So how about the ‘heroes’ in your organization? Do you celebrate their significant efforts or simply chastise their failures? We don’t advance or grow without risk. At what point do we reward our employees for taking a risk? What do we do to encourage them to become ‘heroes’ to our customers and management?

We all need to take the time to recognize the heroes in our organizations. Just as important, we need to be setting examples ourselves, to be the ‘heroes’ our people look up to. There are many ways to do this, but, at the minimum, you all know what ‘your mother would do.’

Better yet, what would your ideal heroes do? Not the ones that end up killing dogs, soliciting people in restrooms or letting their children go hungry. I’m talking about the hero you wish you had?

I’m old enough to have had untarnished heroes, and one of them was Roy Rogers. He never swore. He was faithful to his wife Dale Evans, his horse Trigger, and his sidekicks Gabby Hayes and Pat Brady. Roy never killed anyone, never accepted a bribe, never held a grudge. When you think about it, shouldn’t we ourselves strive to act like Roy, and thereby encourage our business associates to act the same way?

We all need to practice our skills and engage each other in the quest of being and seeking out other heroes that are worth our attention. Let’s all seek out and celebrate the heroism in our daily lives. Let’s look for the Roy Rogers and the Wesley Autrys. Let’s emulate their examples.

And let’s never again forget the lesson Charles Schulz tried to teach us every fall in his iconic comic strip.

You remember the one, where Lucy has a football and wants Charlie Brown to kick it. When Charlie Brown reminds Lucy that last year she pulled the ball away just as he was about to kick it, and he landed on his back, Lucy promises not to do again. So Charlie Brown agrees, Lucy pulls the ball away, and he lands on his back again.

Charlie Brown so wanted to believe Lucy would do the right thing that he just ignored the reality. It’s the same way with us an heroes. We so want to believe people like Michael Vick will live up to our expectations that we ignore all the evidence they just can’t.

So look around and find the real heroes in our lives. Most likely they work with us, attend our church, work out in the same gym or simply eat at the same restaurant. As a leader, don’t you think its time to seek out and reward your heroes? They may not be ‘super’ heroes, but they are more dependable and more effective.

Remember, life is about significance, not success. It is time to choose to be extraordinary. The best way to find heroes is to become one, and we all need to become a hero to someone in our life. Because the best way to learn a strategy is to teach it.

Better Change:

  • Overcome procrastination and be more decisive, assertive and confident.
  • Learn how to better juggle the daily demands of family and career.
  • Strive for a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in your daily life.
  • Become a hero to others by doing what Roy would do.
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