Friday, September 5

With a little help from my friends…

The last Heroic Trait I want to cover, and it’s not on the list, is the trait of Friends and Companions. I know what you’re thinking…Friends aren’t a trait. They are people! But, just walk with me for a while and I’ll show you what I mean.

Every hero has at least one friend or companion that walks the path with him. I’m not talking about acquaintances here…or people that are just along for the ride. I’m talking about a true friend. One that will walk every step of the way, carrying them towards the goal if need be.

I’ve talked about friends before. What makes a good friend and how to be a good friend. So, what does it mean to a hero to have the trait of friends and companions?

So…am I saying that there is a difference between regular friends and Heroic Friends? You bet I am. Friends can come in all shapes and sizes. And most importantly, levels or intimacy and devotion. Don’t get me wrong, regular friends are great. They will always make up the majority of your circle of friends. And that’s a good thing.

But Heroic Friends…they don’t come along that often. They are sometimes even the ones that get overlooked. But it’s OK. They know where they stand and are comfortable with that place in your life. They are always the first ones to be by your side (sometimes the only ones) and lift you back up when you fall. They are the last ones to leave your side (if ever). They are the ones that will break the truth to you as gently as possible, but they will give you nothing less. And no matter where you are, when you call, they will come running.

Why is it important for a hero to have friends and companions?

This is and will be a difficult journey. There is no one that makes it through this journey by themselves. No hero in legend has walked alone.

King Arthur had his Knights of the Round Table.
Sinbad had his crew.
Jason had the Argonauts.
Frodo had Samwise (one of the BEST examples of a Heroic Friend)

“But I can't do this all on my own. No, I know I'm no Superman” – Scrubs Theme Song

Really, that’s the truth of it. We CAN’T do it all on our own. There is simply TOO much. Too much shit. Too much struggle. Too much hurt. Too much joy. There has to be someone that is there and able to handle sharing the load.

Notice that I said SHARING the load. A Heroic Friend helps you with YOUR burdens. He doesn’t take them from you. See, this is YOUR journey. YOU are the hero in this tale. YOU have to take the adventure. YOU have to slay the Dragon. No one else can do this but YOU.

And, sometimes, even Heroic Friends screw up. They are only human after all. Sometimes they make mistakes and hurt us. It’s never malicious, but it still hurts, nonetheless. Lancelot and Arthur for example. Sometimes, WE make the mistakes and hurt them. Sometimes, to the point of even trying to drive them off from us. Frodo and Samwise for example.

But there is something deeper between a hero and his friends. Something that brings them back together. Something that brings humbleness and loving forgiveness. That’s what it means to be a Heroic Friend. It’s the friend that NEVER stops, NEVER walks away, NEVER abandons you. It’s the friend that fights by your side, even if the last things you said to each other were in anger. It’s the friend that knows how to be true, even when you don’t want them to be. They love you too much to be anything else.

I only have a few Heroic Friends in my life. And I count myself blessed beyond measure for them. So…I raise my glass to them…and all others. You included, for you should be someone’s Heroic Friend too.

JC, SK, SN…I love you guys!

Thursday, September 4

Fear Not…live with a heart of courage

In our list of Heroic Traits courage is the most repeated trait. Granted, it takes various shapes and sizes, but it still all boils down to the same thing…plain old courage. It’s probably one of the most recognized and sought after traits. And yet, so very few people ever manifest true courage. I’m not talking about just being brave once…or being forced into a situation where you HAVE to have courage. I’m talking about living a life with a heart FULL of courage, in every aspect and through every moment of life.

Apparently, there are different types of courage…or maybe, different levels of courage. Looking at our list, we’ve got:


6 different levels of true courage. Each is a needed and necessary component of true courage, and probably more as well. So, what do I mean when I talk about TRUE courage? I’m sure you’re wondering that by now.

TRUE Courage is that quality of heart that allows all facets of courage to manifest at any given and needed time. It encompasses all aspects of courageous actions and thoughts and brings out the WARRIOR side of a hero.

Now, now…yes…you DO have a warrior side. Every hero has one. In fact, every potential hero has one. It’s just a matter of refining it and allowing it to become a part of the whole. It’s that warrior side that allows us to stand up against the evil side of this world. It’s what allows us all to be unified in feeling against truly evil actions from others. Don’t believe me? Get a group of people together and show them a child being hurt or abused. EVERYONE will have the same feelings and response. Why? Because it is a fundamentally evil action to hurt a child. EVERYONE will get angry to some degree. That is the warrior side expressing itself. The warrior side does not tolerate evil behavior…ever.

So, why is it that SO much evil happens every day? Where are the warriors? A better question I think, is where has our innate courage gone? We are a species that has survived by being courageous. And, sadly, now that same courage that has allowed us to survive is fading, if not almost gone. The warrior side has been buried and at times, actively put down.

Now the question I propose is: How can we get back that birthright of true courage? How can we live a life from a heart full of true courage?

I think that’s going to be a difficult one to accomplish. Our world doesn’t present lots of opportunities for courage in the normal sense. There aren’t too many predators threatening our homes or marauding bandits threatening the towns. So we will need to look for other opportunities to discover our own courage. But the important thing is that you find that place in your heart where you are strong and brave and willing to fight for what is right and let that become a larger part of you.

Most of the time we let fear control our actions. We don’t stand up and say or do the right thing for fear of being judged or fear for our job or fear of… Some people believe that a courageous person is one that has no fear. They couldn’t be more wrong. EVERYONE has fear. Someone that lives with a heart of courage is better at dealing with that fear and accepting the risks of living courageously. They are able to act in accordance with their core because their courage lets them put the fear aside, in its proper place.

We spend SO much of our time worrying with fear about SOMETHING. After all…that’s all worry is, fear. Set some of that aside for today. You don’t have to do much, even just one thing. And use that time to find your courage. Find that place where you can stand up to anything and KNOW that you will succeed. Even if you can’t find true courage inside, and I know it’s there, take a hold of some part of courage. Get some level in your life and your heart. And then, build on it! Get another level and another…until you find your heart filled with it and you come to know what true courage is all about.

Courage comes in all shapes and sizes…right now…make in YOUR shape and size. :-)

Wednesday, September 3

All I am is yours…

Have you ever stopped and taken a real hard look at the world we live in? Ever notice that the general trend now is…”Get as much for yourself as possible. Screw everyone else”? I’m pretty certain that everyone has at least seen, if not experienced this particular attitude.

The next Heroic Trait is one that I think most people don’t even want to acknowledge exists. I’m talking about Selflessness.

Let’s again, get on the same page and figure out what Selfless means. Mr. Webster? Can you please give us your typically inadequate definition of the word?

Here we go…

Selfless - having no concern for self. Yes sir…that about settles it. Ok…until tomorrow! See ya… :-)

What the hell?? Can’t this guy come up with anything better than that? Selfless means not self. DUH! But what about the attitudes, feelings, benefits, blessings, and other wonderful things that go along with this trait?

Let’s work our own definition…we seem to do a bit better that way. :-)

Selfless…a state of being where another’s needs and desires are placed in higher priority than your own.

So…why in the world would we want to put someone else’s needs and wants before our own? That doesn’t sound very fun. After all, aren’t I supposed to be taking care of myself? Who is going to do that if I’m spending all my time taking care of other people????

I know that we’ve all thought this at some point. Be honest. You have. And you know what? It’s OK that you thought that. However, ACTING solely on those thoughts isn’t OK. Why?

Being selfless is an act of humanity and compassion. It also tends to help you to face the situations of others and be able to empathize a bit better. You take on the burdens for a while and ease the load that they are under. I think that this is one of the Heroic Traits that has the most immediate, obvious, “Hero response”. When you are selflessly giving and helping another, for the moment, you become a hero to them. Even if they never express it in those terms.

Let’s pull some examples from some known heroes…

King Leonidas – Everyone should be familiar with this story, given the movie 300. He and his band of Spartans marched against overwhelming odds; knowing that they were not coming home, He gave his very life for the safety of his family and his people. Without complaint or concern.

Robin Hood – Took on the burdens of his people and became a hunted outlaw to fight against injustice. He took this on willingly, gathering others to him that were willing to share the burden too.

These examples, while definitely extreme, show that Selflessness is indeed a Heroic Trait. There isn’t a hero in legend, or even today, that operates from a selfish base. Heroism doesn’t concern itself with the needs of the individual, but rather with the needs of the whole. Selflessness doesn’t think of itself, and doesn’t raise a voice in consternation with the burdens that it takes on.

I guess that’s the biggest thing that I see in people that claim to be Selfless. Sure, they take on other’s burdens and do place others before themselves, but it seems that there is always complaint or some negative dialogue to go along with it. THAT is not being Selfless. The attitude of Selflessness is that or willing service and sacrifice. That’s what makes it a Heroic Trait. You see…when it comes down to it and a hero is in a “put up or shut up” moment…they rise to the occasion and do what is needed. And they don’t BITCH about it! They take it in stride and know that what had to be done; was done.

That’s another thing. A hero rises at the right time. Selflessness, adopted as a way of life, becomes useless. If taken too far, it creates a person that is unable to do anything for themselves. At that point, being selfless is NOT a Heroic Trait, it’s a curse. It will forever keep a person from growing and becoming a true hero, or anything else for that matter. So, it’s important to know when to rise to the occasion.

Let’s start out small, look for opportunities to practice. Do it with your family and close friends. It may feel awkward at first, but that’s because you might not have used those muscles in a long time, if ever. Be keep working it, until it becomes a part of you, natural to the point where you don’t think about it.

And don’t worry…I’m here to help…encourage…and if you want practice…I got a list of things you can help with. :-)

Tuesday, September 2

Dog’s best friend…

There are lots of things we can learn from our dogs. How to play, how to relax, how to live purely in the moment. But most importantly, we can learn a LOT about loyalty. There is a reason the dogs are called “Man’s Best Friends”. No other animal gets that designation. No other animal warrants that title. And really…no other animal lives up to it better.

That’s the next Heroic Trait…Dogness! :-) Nononono…it’s loyalty. And sadly…it’s a trait that is getting rarer and rarer in this world. Along with loyalty today, I’m going to talk about conviction. I think that they are related and compatible to each other.

Loyalty…we all KNOW what it is, but how would you define it? Unswerving devotion? Dedication?
How about Conviction? Can you define that one? A belief in something? Strong feelings about something?

How about if we define Loyalty as a feeling of attachment that is sacrificed for? Yeah…let’s go with that for now. And we can define Conviction as a strong belief that is sacrificed for.

Everyone in the world knows that loyalty, for the most part, is a thing of the past. The only place where loyalty is sometimes found is within the family unit. At that is getting rarer as well. Children are turning away from parents and siblings…husbands and wives from each other…even parents from children. What the hell is going on here??!! Why does it seem so difficult for people to feel loyalty towards each other?

Maybe it’s a lack of conviction? We have lost the belief in our fellow human beings. We have embraced the idea that the world is a bad place and the people in it are even worse. It seems that we are waiting and watching for the next knife in the back and even looking for our own opportunity.

It’s one of the worst pains that you can feel to be betrayed by someone that you feel loyalty towards. That’s why there are LOTS of cases where a spouse attacks or gets terrible revenge on an adulterer. It’s a wound that goes deep into your heart and core. Why? There are LOTS of ways that loyalty is betrayed and they all hurt, but why does this hurt so much more? I think it’s because we have a conviction that “family” would never do something like that. Would never betray us. Family stands together, right?

A betrayal of loyalty is ALWAYS more painful if it also involves a betrayal of our convictions. We hold our convictions to be true and the deeper the conviction, the more it is a part of who we are. So, a betrayal to our convictions can actually shake our core and how we see ourselves. Couple that with a betrayal of loyalties and most people crumble and don’t know what to do to save themselves. I think that we all have gone through something like this.

Something this powerful in our lives should be guarded like a great treasure, right? HA! If only we were that smart. It seems that the other side of the loyalty coin in the world today is the people that give their loyalty to anyone and everyone that passes them by. They are the ones that are constantly shocked when someone not worthy of their loyalty, betrays it.

Somewhere in the middle is the sane ground, as always. :-) I think that the strongest sense of loyalty comes from a root of conviction. When you believe in something strongly and are asked to support it with your own self, that loyalty is going to be hard to shake. It’s something that takes time to develop. Deep convictions are things that are built over time. No one has immediate deep convictions.

All legendary heroes excel at the loyalty and conviction traits. Even if they might stumble sometimes, they always come through in the end.

In a world like ours today, true loyalty is a rare find. Backed by solid convictions and a core that lives from the heart and soul, it is a lifeline that so many people can use. And the best thing about true loyalty is that it can build upon itself and being to tie people together. Families, neighbors, communities. All it takes is one person to find that true loyalty and give it to someone else. Someone that will appreciate it, and nurture it, and give it back. That’s the way it starts.

So?? What do you say? Think you’re ready for some true loyalty? I'm ready if you are. :-)

Monday, September 1

May I have your attention, please?

Every athlete in the world knows the value of focus and dedication. Those two topics seem to go hand in hand. Hence, that’s why I’m going to talk about them together here. :-)
What does it really mean to focus? Or be dedicated? Let’s visit our old friend Webster and see what he has to say.

Focus - to concentrate attention or effort
Dedication - self-sacrificing devotion

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel that Webster really sucks sometimes in the whole definition department? Sure, I mean, that CAN be the meanings for focus and dedication, but it lacks, well, everything that makes them into such powerful words and traits.

Let’s take focus for a second. Think of a time when you were doing something that you simply LOVED to do. Whether it be reading, or writing, or building a model and suddenly, hours and hours have past. THAT is focus. It’s a state where the outside world has no influence on you and only the task at hand matters. Focus will allow someone to work till they can’t move or accomplish damn near anything. It is a state of mind that allows your mind to move past this reality that we find ourselves trapped in. Now…hold that thought for a second. :-)

Dedication is a lot like focus. In fact, if you have enough of them both together, you are able to achieve wonderful results in anything you want. Dedication is something that comes from the heart. It’s what allows the heart and mind to work together and build dreams. It’s a trait that puts aside the needs of this world for the needs of the heart’s beliefs. Sadly, dedication is something that can be, to some extent, chosen and rechosen throughout a lifetime. Our world seems to value a dedication to money and things. Always exhorting people to sacrifice other things to have more of both.

But, what if we found a golden path? One that would bring about incredible good in our life? One where our focus and dedication could be used to achieve wonderful things for those that matter the most to us? Do you think that amazing things would happen in your life?

Focus and dedication are vital on the journey that we’ve undertaken. They are the traits that will help to see us through when things start to get rough. Ever seen a guy defusing a bomb? Hopefully not first hand, but you know what I mean. :-) I bet THEY have got the focus thing down! These traits will allow you to keep on the task and on the path, even when the world is throwing things at you.

Think about the heroes we’ve mentioned before…Heracles had 12 tasks to do, each one successively harder than the last. Yet, he continued on till the end. Nothing distracted him from his goal. Gandalf spent his entire life looking for the One Ring in order to see to its destruction. Now THAT’s dedication.

Our world today is trying to make us all ADD. There are a hundred million distractions each and every day. Everyone wants a piece of your time and your life. And really…this is all just a facade that is meant to distract you from what is important. It’s meant to pull you away from your core and your heart in order to keep you from becoming the Hero that you were meant to be.

THAT is why this trait is so important. THAT is why you need to pull back and let the world slide by for a moment and refocus and rededicate to what is the MOST important things in your life.

Like Yoda says, “Concentrate!” Focus or your thoughts will be all over the place and so will your life.