Anyone can be a hero for a day.
An above-and-beyond gesture. An extra dose of good-will. Being in the right place at the right time.
Anyone can have a day like that, do something awesome, and be a hero for a day or two.
True heroes walk the walk, even when it's difficult. They do the right thing when there's NOT a profit to be made. Sometimes, they do the right thing when the wrong thing appears to be far more profitable in the moment.
They're concerned about eternity, not about right now.
When I say "eternity," I'm not necessarily talking "heaven or hell", religion, or anything of that sort.
I'm talking about being able to wake up each morning, look yourself in the eye, and know that you've made the most of yesterday, with a commitment to doing your darnedest to make today even better.
Action heroes get banged up, scratched and dented, and take a few beatings from time to time. They get a little dirty, bloodied up, and still they rise, because they know it's not about the short-term gain, it's about the end game.
Who's going to be at your funeral? What are they going to say about you? How will you be remembered? Will you be remembered at all?
Sarah Robinson once wrote about what I call the "Hero of Now," the hero of right this moment. The flash in the pan that looks good on paper, seems to be on a hot streak, or appears to have some of the success you desire. This "flash in the pan" can be pretty easy on the eyes. In fact, sometimes we get mesmerized and then we're stunned when that flash turns out to be of little substance, or simply doesn't have the long-term value that makes them a true hero.
I've been there at least eleventy-jillion times in my own life and career (give or take a few jillion). You see someone that's doing their thing and it's hard NOT to notice. In fact, our brains are hard-wired to pay attention to something in which we're interested. The Reticular Activating System (RAS) in your brain is what causes you to notice every silver Jeep Liberty on the road after you decide that's the kind of car you want to buy next... or ignore the voice of every other screaming kid at the McDonald's playland except yours.
Here's an excerpt from what Sarah noted:
I thought part of a leader’s job was to search for unnoticed diamonds in the rough and start to polish them. I thought true leaders never, ever forgot that they were once unnoticed and that someone reached out to help them become who they are.
Apparently I was wrong.
When I see “leaders” huddled together in a self-congratulatory group (I’ve even heard of an event where the leaders sit in a roped off area, inaccessible to the “common” attendees), it makes me question any aspiration I might have to someday be among them.
I know not all experts and leaders are like this and that gives me the hope I need to keep going.
Speaking as the kid in high school that was the music geek with TWO 6th hour classes my senior year, I know the uncool factor, and wore it well for a while.
Just like in high school, those would-be heroes are quite often real-life zeros once the playing field is leveled.
I can't tell you how many kids from my past - that thought I was uncool, unworthy, un____, now approach me with some kind of "wow! Look at you!" amazement.
They know I've "arrived" in a way they never did. But I'm still striving, and they're stuck wearing the blue apron at the local big box store.
So too are many of those internet flashes in the pan that were once riding high now facing their own issues: health issues, family troubles, bankruptcies, divorces, lawsuits, and other not so pretty consequences of doing their thing for momentary success, instead of building for the long term.
People talk. Your audience sees you even if they don't always say so. Today's hero, if they continue to demonstrate heroic qualities, will continue to be a hero decades from now. If today's hero runs off at the mouth and ignores the music geeks too often, they end up fat, balding, and with no prospects...
Not that I speak from experience or anything (hee hee).
Think about music: Billy Joel is a legend. Starland Vocal Band? Not so much. Their one hit, "Afternoon Delight," was the biggest-selling single of 1976. They even won a Grammy, but by 1981, they had called it quits.
Do you want to be a one-hit wonder or a lifetime achievement award winner? Both of them may win a Grammy, but who will be remembered for their enduring contribution?
It's hard to ignore a flash in the pan... until the Hope Diamond comes along. (Tweet This)
When you look at your business, your life, are you building something that lasts? Are you a true hero to the folks you serve, the colleagues that seek you out? Are you "The Hope Diamond" of your industry, or just another flash in the pan?
Sometimes it's hard to know for sure. We've all watched someone skyrocket to the top of their industry, stay there for a few years, and then get "shot down" by some kind of incident, controversy, or some other bad PR issue.
They stand the test of time - despite their shortcomings. True business heroes are around for decades or centuries, not months or years. True business heroes continue to learn and grow, develop their network, and rarely rest on their laurels.
True heroes adapt, are agile, and realize that getting beat up is part of standing up for what's right. Just because a company is making billions today doesn't mean it has the wherewithal to be in a future edition of "Built to Last". There are plenty of companies (and people) that started with a future just as bright as Facebook, and ended up extinct.
What makes a true hero? Who are your heroes in life and business? Is there a secret ingredient? I'm guessing you have some thoughts about it. Share them in the comments, and let's start a conversation!
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: This article originally appeared one of my old blogs in March, 2011. I revised it for re-publication here, since I felt it deserved a little resurrection.]
[Editor's Note: I've known Sarah for several years, stalking her at first, and eventually hiring her as a coach and consultant in my business. Her work on developing fiercely-loyal communities has been, hands down, the best training I've ever gotten from her. In fact, this is Sarah's third appearance on the blog (Here's part of our last interview). I'm thrilled she's joined us for this series to help you share your true voice more courageously with your budding Noble Empire.]
People often ask me “How did you do what you did at Escaping Mediocrity? That tribe was, and still is, rabid.”
When I look back to the beginning, I didn’t set out with a formal strategy to “build a rabid tribe”. What I set out to do was build the space I longed for and couldn’t find. I was exhausted by the sameness of all the blogs out there. The glossed-over lives of people I was supposed to aspire to be like. Business strategies that just felt wrong. No real conversations about what it’s really like to be an entrepreneur.
I wanted something else. So I built it. I remember saying to someone at the time “I’m absolutely certain that at least two people will read my blog for the next month or so. They’re my best friends so they have to.” I really had no idea who else, if anyone, would show up. And my friends would only stick around for so long.
At that point, I made three pivotal decisions (more…)
In this final segment of my interview with Sarah Robinson, we're talking about the Fierce Loyalty Accelerators, specifically, exclusivity and love. Sarah talks about how the accelerators aren't meant to be a stand-alone device to employ, but work in tandem with the Fierce Loyalty model to help you grow an intensely committed community of like-minded people (your tribe, your Noble Empire). Sarah also speaks candidly about why she chose self-publishing over the traditional route, as well as the results of working with a hand-picked street team to launch her book.
In part one, Sarah Robinson and I sat down to talk about her own business evolution, as well as her book, “Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities”. This is part two of a three part interview, wherein we discuss Sarah's Fierce Loyalty Model (enhanced with graphics! Ooooh! Ahhhh!).
This is the first part of an hour-long interview with Author and Martha Beck-trained life coach, Sarah Robinson (here's part two). Her book, "Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities" is available in paperback or Kindle format on amazon. You can read my thoughts on her book in this previous post.
In this episode, Sarah and I discuss the evolution of her business, from professionally trained actress to mom, to life coach, to business strategist and author. We talk about what Jonathan Fields calls "The Thrash": the seemingly constant evolution-branding-and-re-branding cycle that happens as we draw nearer and nearer to our Essential Why and sharing our True Voice with the world.
In my conversations about building a noble empire, one of the regular questions I get is "how do you build a noble empire?"
This used to be a difficult question to answer. When we talk about the Five Tenets of a Noble Empire, we know that it takes a community to build an empire. We know that it is built on service, not servitude, and that we need connections to make that happen. But HOW do we get there? Other than letting nature run its course, which admittedly takes time, could there be a faster way to build your noble empire?