What does it take to be a hero?

In truth, not much. 

Sure, there are elaborate heroes who do things to change the world.  But you don’t have to change the whole world, all you have to do is find someone in need, and change their world.

If a child asks you to come play ball, or Barbies, or jump on the tramp, or swing them, or read them a book, or tell them a story, and you stop and do it… you’re their hero.

If you see someone at the checkout counter who didn’t bring enough money, and you step in and make up the difference… you’re their hero.

If you see someone on the side of the road and help them change their tire, or jump-start their car, or pull them out… you’re their hero.

If you see someone having a bad day, put your arm around them, give them a smile, and offer some encouragement… you’re their hero.

If you’re always the one to look on the bright side of things, to point out the positive, to provide energy and spirit to those around you… you quickly become their hero.

If you see someone new in your neighborhood, in your school, in your church, or in your office, and you take the time to get to know them, ask them questions, make them feel welcome, and be their friend… you’re their hero.

Being a hero doesn’t always require heroic effort, just the right effort at the right time.  And usually the amount of effort required is vastly disproportionate to the impact you have.  Sure, there are big things that you can do (and big things that need to be done), but more pervasive are those little opportunities that constantly surround us where we see someone in need, step in, and help.

Our environments are composed of hundreds of opportunities such as this.  The building blocks of heroism. 

So look around you, and be a hero.



Michael Phelps – Making your dreams come true


Tonight I watched the incredible men’s 4×100 freestyle relay, as the United States Olympic team put to bed the taunting from the French team, destroying the prior world record, and taking home the Gold, all in one fell swoop.

The entire race was awe-inspiring to say the least.  But the crowning moment, as Jason Lezak swam the final 50 Meter leg, was watching Michael Phelps (who swam first) cheer his teammate on.

Michael Phelps has set the astonishing goal of winning 8 gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, beating Mark Spitz’s prior record of seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics.  All this after breaking his wrist last October.

He eats, sleeps, and breaths swimming. He has made it his dream, and has worked tirelessly to make it happen.  Now that the events are here, he’s checking the gold’s off one by one.  Having now already won two gold medals, with 6 more to go, the 23 year old says “I’m not downplaying this race by any means, but I have to put it behind me.  I have to act like it never happened, because I have so many tough races ahead of me.”

Every event he’s in, is filled with people that woke up that day with one intent – to beat him.  But in spite of all the odds, in spite of the daunting amount of energy and hard work it will take, Phelps has set his sights high and is going for the gold… eight of them, to be exact.

For a constant reminder of what he’s working for, he has written and posted his goals right next to his bed so that every morning that’s the first thing that he sees – his first real concious thought, and every night… the last thing he sees, his last real concious thought.

What a remarkable example of human potential.  What a prime illustration of how we can set our aim on something more, and do what it takes to achieve it.  Not hampered by “realistic thinking”, people like Phelps make their own reality, by daring to hope, daring to dream, and daring to do the work necessary to make it all come true.

Good luck Michael, and welcome to my list of heroes.


 Other posts of mine on Phelps:  Two lessons from Michael Phelps, Michael Phelps – setting and achieving goals

P.S.  For further stories on Phelps, and stories on last nights race, see also…

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