At a Toastmasters meeting, I was given two minutes to give an extemporaneous answer to the questions: “Who is your hero? And why are they your hero?” Without skipping a beat and without delay, I answered: “I am my own hero.” It sounds arrogant, I know.
But before you judge the response, bear with me long enough that I can share with you the explanation that I gave the group I was speaking to. See if you don’t agree with me that you must be your own hero.
You Have Only One Story
You have only one story, for good or for ill. You are the producer, director, writer, and lead actor in only one story: your own. You are writing this story now, and you get decide, chapter by chapter, and frame by frame, just how that story goes.
You get to decide whether your story is the tale of a passionate adventurer who is living their life and making big choices that make it something special. You also decide whether your story is one of a person leading “a life of quiet desperation,” wishing that things were different, but never taking the heroic action that would make that difference.
Since you only get one story, you must choose to be the hero.
If you don’t like the way the story is going, scrap it and call for a rewrite. Start it over right where you are. The best stories always have an arc in which the character overcomes their present circumstances to be something more by doing something spectacular.
If your leading man (or lady) isn’t the passionate, romantic love interest that would make your story worth living, fire him (or her), and recast the part with someone else.
If the great adventure in your story is simply making it to your cubicle day after day, scrap it and write the story of someone who breaks the bonds of indentured servitude and does something daring and remarkable instead. Make it the story of someone who brings so much passion to what they do that it changes everything. Forever.
Lest you believe that this is arrogant or selfish, let me challenge you to write another story. How about the story of someone who helps to massively improve the lives of others, someone who touches lives in a way that inspires them to be more than they would otherwise be?
Heroes always fight for causes greater than themselves, don’t they. What are you fighting for?
When the Curtain Falls
Most people have too small of a vision of themselves, and their lives are far less than they could be. They let the tiny voice that lives inside them drown out the voice of the hero. The go along silently, never allowing the hero inside of them to break free. There is no reason to go looking for heroes or heroines. When the curtain falls, when your story is over, you will have had your single opportunity to be whatever it was that you might have been.
Don’t miss that opportunity. Don’t sit on the sidelines as a dispassionate observer of your story allowing others to write it for you. Write your own story, and be your own hero.