Where Have All the Heroes Gone?

Hardly a day goes by without us hearing of some hero that crashed and burned.

Lance Armstrong the superstar of cycling admitted extensive doping. Admired politicians are busted for moral lapses. Academics with stellar scholarly records are exposed for fudging their data or plagiarizing. Gurus turn out to be jerks. And just plain regular folks break faith with each other. Where do we go from there?

Instead of descending into disillusionment and becoming cynical about people how can we learn from such painful experiences?

The biggest lesson is that we don’t idealize others and get into hero worship because

Nobody can sustain the ideal for an extended period.

Someone asked a spiritual teacher whether he had found a state of enlightenment. He answered in the affirmative. When asked whether he had remained in that state he responded “hell no, that’s not possible”.  All great spiritual leaders, like ourselves, drift in and out of maturity and enlightenment.

Why is it so important to recognize that even the greatest amongst us have warts?

And what are we to do with our own lapses in good judgment? We can start by

  1. Embracing the ever-present shadow in all of our lives. We have to recognize that the ego will always rear its ugly head. While it may bring us limited “success” it throws us off course in our life’s journey.
  2. Putting our shadow in perspective.  This is achieved  with self-deprecating humor, mercy, and forgiveness.
  3. Refusing to get into “bad mind” thinking. This comes from a conclusion that we are “not enough” or “inferior” or just plain “bad” when we fall and fail.
  4. Rejecting the impulse to cede authority for our lives to others. It reminds me of the title of the old book “If You See the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him”. 
  5. Learning to think for ourselves and searching for our own inner wisdom.
  6. Finding a balance between trusting others and expecting them to be human.
  7. Taking our heroes with a “pinch of salt”. Recognize that no one leader or group has all of the answers we need.
  8. Recognizing that having heroes is a symbol of what we aspire for.

So go ahead and have ideals. But humanize our heroes by viewing them as flawed and human.

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About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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3 Responses to Where Have All the Heroes Gone?

  1. ShilpiRajput says:

    Great Post, very thought provoking. I believe that we should give enough scope to every one that is human to make mistakes, have flaws, and even be great and positive . we need to learn and unlearn a number of things if we follow or idolize our hero’s because they are not born saints nor they can have a particular trait forever . So the onus is upon us to learn the good from the bad, but actually in today’s world we need immediate “gyan” ie knowledge so we keep looking for hero’s and very often we keep shifting our interest on finding more better ones. We do not stop or cease anywhere and our predispositions make us wanderer’s in search of idealistic being that never exist in human form. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful article.
    Regards

  2. Pingback: Where Have All the Heroes Gone? | People Discovery

  3. Pingback: Where Have All the Heroes Gone? | Inspirational Leadership Management and Engagement | Scoop.it

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