At a certain point in your life, you’ll notice that your heroes are vanishing. Some will vanish from old age, illness, or death. Others will, in the words of Harvey Dent, live long enough to become the villain. Our earliest heroes, our parents, eventually leave us. Others, such as our cultural icons, succumb to death or perversely, we destroy them.
No matter how you choose to view it, the places in your life for your heroes will slowly become emptier and emptier. What do you do about it? Who is supposed to fill those places, fill those shoes?
If your life feels as though there’s an absence of heroes, it’s because the role of the hero was meant for you. Once you reach a certain point of capability in your life in any area of skill, you are supposed to turn your abilities, capabilities, and powers towards helping others, towards energizing your abilities with compassion. You’re supposed to step up, transcend your limitations and the boundaries of an ordinary life to become more, to brighten your world a little more.
Are you a marketer? After you’ve become proficient, you’re supposed to turn those skills towards more than just asking people to buy crap.
Are you a social media community manager? After you’ve learned how to manage a community, you’re supposed to direct it to more than just reducing customer complaints.
There are consequences if you don’t.
I recently had the chance to talk at length with Lama Samten Gyamtso about how we deal with heroes, especially in the online world where developing a following and influencing others en masse is relatively easy (compared to the pre-Internet age). Without some guiding light, some kind of guiding direction, corruption is inevitable. When 10,000 (or 100,000, or a million) people are following you on Twitter, listening to what you have to say, giving you approval and encouragement, it is almost natural that you’re going to end up deviating off the path into trouble if you don’t have something guiding you.
Sometimes the trouble is financial, where you stop seeing friends and start seeing monetization opportunities. Sometimes the trouble is carnal, following the path of music rockstars in a very literal way. Sometimes the trouble is much deeper, to the point where you lose yourself and then wake up one day wondering who it is you’re looking at in the mirror.
The way back to where you’re supposed to be going is driven by compassion and ideal.
- Who are you supposed to be?
- What are you supposed to be doing?
- Are you using your skills and abilities to those ends?
If you use these questions as a lens to focus your efforts, you’re more likely to mitigate or eliminate corruption, as you’ll be working too hard to be diverted away from your most noble goals.
Then a funny thing will happen. One day, you’ll wake up, look in the mirror, and find that the hero you were looking for in your life is staring right back at you.
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