Where have your heroes gone?

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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.

Superman and Mick

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?

You are.

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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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


3 responses to “Where have your heroes gone?”

  1.  Avatar

    I love this.
    I’ve been reading a book about educational philosophy, and essentially it says the same thing : If you don’t know what your principals and guiding light are, if you don’t understand your fundamental beliefs about education, purpose and the like, the more likely you are to get lost and even hopeless in what you are doing and why.I think we get lost because asking the big questions like “What is my purpose” and “What do I believe in” take time.  They’re messy, introspective questions, and can change the whole paradigm of what we do.  That’s exactly why we need to ask these questions.  We also need to be comfortable with challenging our fundamental beliefs, because that’s when our faith in them is tested, and we get a sense of our strength and commitment to them.It’s much easier, however, to run away from asking these questions, because the answers can be painful.  It’s like the day you wake up and realize you are the grownup in charge of your own decisions, and no one can make you do anything, so therefore, you better be the best boss of your own life you can be.  That has great power, but equally great responsibility attached.

    All of this takes time, and real thought, which you have to make time to do. It’s much easier to surf the net, watch TV or do anything other than this work, but it’s the most important work you’ll ever do.

  2. Excellent stuff. Unfortunately the reality is that self confidence is absent among the masses. We are either beat down by a constant drone of negativity (national news) or lack the self worth to actually feel we can achieve those goals. 

    A hero is relative and come in all shapes and sizes. When you (the general citizen) realizes some of the most heroic persons in the world are those you would least expect and possess some of the most fortunate gifts bestowed upon anyone. 

    Great read Christopher

  3. Nicely put! Psychologically as we age we enter a mentoring stage which is partly what you’re saying. It does explain (in addition to time availability) why people active in local politics, libraries, etc. are often older than average.  I love thinking of that in terms of heroes. Great meme!

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