Seneca once said “the soul should have someone it can respect, by whose example it can make it’s inner sanctum more inviolable.” In effect someone that through example, words, deeds or philosophy reminds you to hold yourself to a higher standard.
This can be someone whether a friend, a hero, a religious figure, a mentor, colleague, a parent, family member or even someone fictional. When you find yourself with difficult decisions or are stuck on the path to go down – what would this person say or do? When you find yourself making the wrong or bad decisions, what would this person say or do? We have lots of heroes when we’re children but tend to move away from this when we’re older. We don’t look up to others and sometimes we like to see heroes knocked off their pedestals and fall. We use the term “hero” quite loosely today – an athlete scores a goal or wins something and they’re automatically assigned as a “hero” – and these people can be – but perhaps we should demand more from our examples and from ourselves. Instead of holding the winner as a hero – what about the athlete that loses but holds their head high, acts with dignity, works hard and comes back, perseveres? What about the person putting their body on the line to win? Giving it their all? Or what about the colleague that takes a stand and tells the truth at their own detriment? Or a religious leader that dedicates their life to their beliefs? Or a friend that has overcome difficulties? What about a person that has gone through hell and keeps on smiling, never complaining, but keeps going on? What about someone that was counted out but listens to themselves? What about the politician that speaks openly and honestly or does the right thing at the risk of their own career? The activist that dedicates their time or their lives to a good cause? A fictional character that embodies what we could be? A parent that works hard and always does their best to support their family? Heroes don’t need to be grand or fancy or the most successful – sometimes our heroes can be the people that remind us that there’s more in us – that we can be good – that we can be honest – that we can fight for our beliefs – that we’re capable of more – that doing the right thing can be the right path – that sometimes true achievement isn’t about trophies or fans but dedication to a craft, art or skill – that honouring our values and being the best version of ourselves is sometimes all it takes – and who knows if we have the right heroes and look up to the right people maybe we can be someone else’s hero or mentor or have others look to us as a good example?