I’ve listened to Cliff Reid’s ‘How to be a hero’ talk about a dozen times now (http://emcrit.org/podcasts/how-to-be-a-hero/). I get choked up every time when he talks about his heroic mate Mick. It’s an inspiring, heart felt, and very brave presentation. I like this talk not because I want to be a hero but because I want to hear about heroes, about heroic acts. I think we need to so that we have the chance to adopt these stories, these people, as our heroes. Today, I write about why I have heroes and what they do for me.
I think we should first differentiate between being a hero and having a hero. In my simple brain, I consider having a hero as having someone you look to, or someone you think about, when you’re faced with a tough situation. Maybe this is someone who displays the traits and behaviours you admire and you therefore look to emulate them. As a simple extension, I consider being a hero as being the person displaying the traits and behaviours that others are looking to emulate. Further, heroic acts are ones that others will look to emulate.
Considering the traits and behaviours that I admire, a hero is a selfless person. A hero acts for good, for others, in the face of adversity, in spite of this adversity, they are relentless. They even seek the challenge, pursue the chance to push themselves. They are curious, constantly smiling, kind, patient. They have empathy and understanding. I have heroes, people who act in these ways, so that I might follow their lead.
I have three main heroes; my Dad, Kim, and my Mum. I have many other people I consider heroes for their actions in different circumstances; Cliff Reid, Cliff’s mate Mick, Travis Pastrana, my wife Carly, the best man at my wedding Aidan, my best mate at med school Blair. Each of these people, each of their stories, inspire me to act in the ways I outlined above.
My Dad is selfless, never making a decision or taking a step without first thinking of his children. There are four of us lucky enough to call him Dad. For much of my childhood he was by himself with all four of us were under the one roof. He continues to work tirelessly so that we each have opportunities. So that the world is our oyster. He has an incredible work ethic and is incredibly generous. That’s heroic to me. I hope to be a dad like him.
Kim was a part of the push that got me to medical school. He is forever curious, forever learning. His knowledge of all things, and I really mean ALL things, is astounding. He taught me about truly setting goals. Big goals. He taught me to pursue them relentlessly. His body continually fails him but he doesn’t “have time for that” so he moves on, his will is strong, at times he is ruthless. Kim taught me about managing people. He offered endless words of wisdom in this sphere (“There are no difficult problems. Only difficult people.”) and was kind and ever smiling. That’s heroic. I hope to be like that.
I can’t remember my Mum ever actually yelling at me or getting cross with me (can’t say the same about my younger brother….). My mum can always, always, always see the positive in a shitty situation. She can sit with you, when the tears are rolling, and be tender and patient. She’ll listen, offer a wise quote from Russ Harris or Stephen Covey, hug you and push you back on the right path. My mum is honest to the end. She worked in Kings Cross as a counsellor for 15 years or so. She’s seen it all (and done most of it I think) so she’ll never judge and can see the ‘why’ in every crap decision you make. She is the definition of empathic. That’s hard, and I think it’s heroic. I hope to be like that.
I could continue on about the other people, the other actions that are heroic to me but I think you get the point. I think I’m a better person for having heroes because they are a guide. They offer a reference point for how to act, why to act, when to act. As a student, as a young man, as a budding doctor, I feel like I need heroes.
I think you probably do too.