How to Choose a Hero
Women’s History Month has me thinking about all the amazing women out there and how they inspire us.
We all have them…women who we admire. They can be women who have had impacted our own lives in person or they can be women who we have been inspired by from afar. Even if no one springs to your mind immediately, when you see her in the news or on the screen, you recognize her as someone who is different than the others. In your eyes she has a little something…more. Something more admirable or inspirational than the others.
These women are our heroes. And conciously or unconciously, we all have them.
Since we are going to choose them anyway, either consciously or not, I think there is value in choosing them with intention for ourselves. Otherwise we run the risk of just absorbing society’s ideal of the ‘IT’ girls of the moment.
So how does one even go about choosing a hero?
Begin by considering what a hero is NOT.
A hero is not necessarily someone who is famous. Your heroes may be people right in your own life who inspire you. They don’t have to be well-known or in the history books.
A hero is not necessarily someone who is in the spotlight. Just because someone gets a lot of attention or media coverage doesn’t make them a hero. It just makes them news-worthy for the moment, which can be either good OR bad.
A hero is not necessarily someone who lives a lavish lifestyle. Just because someone has a lot of money or power doesn’t automatically make them admirable. Which sounds obvious, but how often do we see financially successful people who have great influence and unwittingly confer more a more important status.
A hero is not someone who makes you feel bad about who you are. Any hero you choose should make you feel inspired to be a better person who strives to reach her goals. She should be someone who by example is challenging you to be more than you are, but not someone who makes you feel inferior because you are a work in progress.
A hero is not someone who is perfect in every way. A real hero is going to be someone who has made some mistakes and then overcome them. Looking for someone who is ‘perfect’ is a mistake, because no one is, not even the best among us. That is a quick way to become disillusioned and disappointed. Look for someone who you can admire, but not someone to idolize.
A hero is not necessarily someone who everyone else admires. Your heroes should be people YOU admire because you personally see something in them that you identify as worthy. Not because anyone else does.
Now that you understand what a hero isn’t, let’s ask ourselves three questions to narrow down who our heroes could be.
Who is a person who has overcome an obstacle that you can relate to?
Each of us has our own personal set of challenges in life to navigate. Finding someone who has successfully navigated something similar, or perhaps something even more challenging, can be a source of great inspiration when we are feeling discouraged about our own struggles. Especially if the person we choose has done it with a positive attitude.
Who is a person who embodies qualities that you aspire to have?
If you haven’t given any thought to what your core values are, that can be a great starting place for identifying qualities that are most important to you. But there are a few things we all admire in others: kindness, perseverance, courage, creativity. Finding someone who exhibits the qualities you want to develop in your own life can help you understand what that looks like played out in real life through a variety of circumstances.
Who is a person who has achieved certain results in her life that you would like to accomplish yourself?
Do you want to be an accomplished pianist? A famous artist? A respected politician? Finding an example of someone who has achieved results in the arena you want to pursue can keep you motivated as well as help you with identifying strategies for moving forward in your journey.
A couple more suggestions…
I recommend making a list of women you admire and adding to it as you come across others. Searching online for ‘heroic women’ or ‘women who inspire’ can give you tons of suggestions. Don’t rush into choosing. Read about different women from different walks of life with different experiences. Think about the women who have been influential in your own life.
It will be an inspirational search as you will find there are so many women who are hero worthy. Enjoy the process of getting to know them as you decide.
There are so many amazing women out there…but there are also a lot of amazing fictional women! You can even look to literature and fictional characters for inspiration.
Being gracious and choosing to view one’s circumstances through the best lens possible are important qualities to me personally. And while I’m sure that there are many real-life women I could choose from to use as my inspiration, Sara Crewe from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Little Princess is one of my heroes.
I will never forget reading about her fall from grace and her efforts to make the best of her reduced circumstances and thinking: this is what composure looks like.
“Whatever comes cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it…”
Take the time to decide who is going to inspire you.
For better or worse, we all are looking outward for examples of how to live our best lives. Be intentional about you you are going to be influenced by and why. Taking the time to figure these things out for yourself will make your heroes even more dear to you.
And it will motivate & inspire you to be your best self as well.