Heroes: When the ordinary become extraordinary

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.”

Those are the words of one of my own heroes, psychology professor, Carol Dweck, from whom I learnt the power of changing mindsets. Of switching from a ‘fixed’, fear-based mindset, where we are eager to stay safe and that prevents us from fulfilling our potential – to a ‘growth’, love-based mindset that propels us and makes us eager to learn. She has made me realise that change and transformation is a choice we make. And for that, I feel she qualifies as someone that’s made themselves extraordinary to me – but she’s certainly not alone.

I wrote The Heart Revolution using over 20 years of experience as an executive in People, Culture and Transformation roles at some of the world’s leading multinationals. But it’s based on so much more than that. It’s also based on and inspired by hundreds of years of thinking and theories coming from some of my own heroes, all contributing a different part.

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.”

Is a quote often attributed to Danish philosopher, Soeren Kirkegaard, whose existential beliefs reminds me that life is short and precious, and that we’re all responsible for going beyond our comfort zones to give it meaning and live it passionately and authentically.

“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”

Writer of some of the best-known fairy tales, Hans Christian Andersen, knows that life has many layers and needs us to do more than just ‘survive’. We have to come alive and thrive in it.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

And here physicist Albert Einstein tells us how to approach tackling these big questions and challenges. He reminds us how to turn the challenges we face into opportunities, by shifting out mindsets – and, collectively, solving challenges in a sustainable way.

“Leadership is about being better able to listen to the whole than anyone else can.”

Before solving a problem though, C. Otto Scharmer, Professor of MIT Management Sloan School, highlights the important of understanding what is needed by assessing, asking questions and listening deeply. Because as author, Richard Barrett, says:

“When you understand where you are in your development and what stage is coming up next, you can make choices that anticipate future challenges and thereby accelerate the pace of your development.”

Those are just a few of the words and people that are important to me. And heroes are important. They help reveal our true values. They give us hope and inspiration. They help us solve problems. But, as Carol says in that first quote, we must also remember that they started as ordinary people, like you and me. And that means we too have the capacity inside us to be our own heroes – for ourselves and others.

The ideas and people that shape us positively don’t always come from where we expect. We’re all leaders and heroes. Thought leaders, people leaders and the perfect CEOs of our own lives.

The question is what are the values you want to project as your own hero?

Who are your heroes and what did you learn from them?

I would love to hear your insights, thoughts and reflections. Share with the community in the comments.

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