Obstacles can do two things in our lives. They can beat us down and make us into a resentful, selfish villain – always complaining about what we didn’t get, grabbing for whatever we can take from the world. Or challenges can make us Hero Minded – as we leap over them and build our strengths and empathy.
It’s always our choice.
Villains approach the world with a fist and Hero Minded people approach the world with an open hand. And we all know more can fit in an open hand than a fist. Villains miss out on a lot, simply by having the wrong mindset (and the wrong handset!). When all your energy is invested in hanging on to what you have, there’s no room for anything new and unexpected to flow into that hand.
It’s not any fun to get hit with the villain’s fist (always poised and ready to fight), which is why many of us choose not to “fight the good fight.” It’s easier to go watch cat videos or play a game than it is to go out and save the world and risk getting pummeled.
And so we marvel at heroes. We put them on pedestals because they seem to have powers we don’t have. They have insight that eludes us, they aren’t as fearful as we are, they push past obstacles that seem impossible, they reach out to help others and they make good things happen. Astonishingly good things that we can’t imagine being a part of.
And they risk their peace and sanity to stand up to the selfishness that’s destroying the world.
And yet, they’re just people like us. No different. They decided to do that. And we can decide, too.
Often, when we’re paying attention, we’ll notice the Hero Minded are people who were bullied, who faced greater obstacles earlier in their lives, who were different and ostracized for it, who had to think their way through tough situations and who, somehow, developed empathy for their fellow human beings on the way. Even in the midst of a world that seemed to be set against them.
The Hero Minded learn to see through the motivations of those that sought to harm them – often spawned from ignorance, fear and insecurity – and learned to let that roll off their backs. They know villains aren’t personally attacking, they are just fearful, unevolved beasts that are trying to survive. Lashing out at others seems like a good strategy to the villain – they haven’t yet figured out that we work better as a team. They haven’t yet tapped into the great pool of empathy that’s needed to grease the Hero Minded wheels of this world.
The Hero Minded turn difficulty into super powers. The more Hero Minded a person is and the more sacrifice and insight we find in a person = the more obstacles that hero turns into their super power. Practice makes perfect.
A recipe for turning a difficulty into a super power:
Don’t take things personally. See the villain who is attacking you for what they are: a fearful little beast, spitting and blustering to seem stronger than they are. They’re trying to survive and haven’t figured out the Hero Minded way yet. It’s not that hard to have empathy for the most selfish, vile humans when you realize where they are on the emotional and social evolutionary scale. Yes, they’re impeding progress and often cause grave harm while doing so. But they don’t know any better yet. Poor villains.
Stay Hero Minded. Think about the positive impact you can have in any situation. Think outside the norm and get creative. Villains use tactics to bring you to their level. Stay focused on heroic principles – disarm by doing a greater good. That doesn’t mean you let a villain take advantage of you or others. Sometimes the greater good means stopping the villain from proceeding. But sometimes it means veering left when they expect you to go right and taking all the energy out of their fight.
Keep the long view in mind. Humans are changing slowly from selfish, fearful villains to empathetic and Hero Minded. Some days it feels like two steps forward and three back. But that’s not true in the long term. Keep that progress going, as those before you have. There was a time when you couldn’t travel between two small towns without a guarantee that you’d be robbed. Unfortunately, there are still places in the world where this is the case. But it used to happen everywhere. When we move past basic survival, when we are able to put our trust in a social contract, life got better. Keep moving the needle in this direction.
Learn the lesson and turn terrible into triumphant. Answer the following questions after every battle that left you feeling weary:
- What have you learned by confronting this obstacle or villain?
- What strength did you gain?
- Do you know something about your ability to withstand that you didn’t know before?
- How would you do things differently next time?
- What solutions need to be in place so this doesn’t happen to others?
- Can you name your new superpower?
Being a hero doesn’t have to mean pulling out your fists and fighting villains on their terms. It’s about the long view – what will make this not happen anymore? How can we get creative – while acknowledging where a villain is coming from – and win the battle on a whole different level?
So don’t look at pain and obstacles as things that hinder you – they build your strength. Most of the most Hero Minded people have been through a lot and that’s how they formed their Super Powers. And it’s how you’ll find yours, if you’re looking for them.
Lots of insight is coming your way. Coming up, we’ll expand upon a list of super powers and show how the human power struggle, ego and humility factor into all of this.