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A Manifesto for the Everyday Hero within You
As a citizen of the earth, you have been called to harness your primal power to do amazing things, to make astonishing progress and to uplift the lives of your brothers and sisters with whom you caretake the planet.
No matter where the hands of nature have now placed you, your past need not prescribe your future. Tomorrow can always be made into something better than today. You are human. And this is what humans are able to do.
Whether you accept this or not, you are a lion, not a sheep. A leader, never a victim. A person worthy of exceptional accomplishment, uplifting adventure, flawless contentment and the self-respect that, over time, rises steeply into a reservoir of self-love that no one and no thing can ever conquer.
You are a mighty force of nature and a dynamic producer, not a slumbering casualty caught flat-footed in a world of degrading mediocrity, dehumanizing complaint, compliance and entitlement.
And with steadfast commitment and regular effort, you will evolve into an idealist, an unusual artist and a potent exceptionalist. A genuine world-changer, in your own most honest and excellent way.
It’s Okay Not to Be Okay
Our civilization sells us the idea that if we’re not smiley and happy and if puppies aren’t dancing and rainbows do not stream into the windowpanes of perfect days, something’s wrong with us.
an intensely lived life requires getting into the arena, taking multiple risks, pursuing numerous paths, getting knocked around a fair amount and dealing with the stormy gales of treacherous seas more than makes rational sense. These words by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw offer inspiration on difficult days: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
You—a very real person dedicated (and destined) to lead a gorgeous, productive and high-impact life—is to wear your wounds with pride. Defend the scars that have deepened, developed and refined you. And see the cuts that have hurt you as medals of valor awarded for your courage.
The Gold Miner’s Paradox
Thousands of years ago, in Thailand, a towering statue of the Buddha was made of gold. The monks would pray before it, people would behold its beauty. And all passersby would revere the remarkable masterpiece. Then, word spread of a coming great invasion from foreign attackers and it became clear the idol could be stolen.
So, the monks hatched a plan to hide it, placing layer after layer of soil over the Golden Buddha. Until it became unrecognizable.
The invaders marched right by it, to the relief of the monks.
Centuries later, a visitor caught a glimmer of gold emerging from a small mountain of earth. As more people dug away at the covering, more gold appeared. Eventually, they found that it was the Buddha, made completely of the precious metal.
You are like this.
The more you advance—layer by layer—into the treasures of your inner gifts, the more you will be rewarded with unexpected bounty in your external reality. It’s quite a paradox, isn’t it? To know that the gateway into success and significance in your public life requires you to take an inner voyage into the depths of your private world. So that you own all that you truly are.
The Victim-to-Hero Leap
Every day, each one of us is presented with an enormous opportunity to shift from any form of victimhood into everyday heroism. So that nearly every move you make as the hours unfold is a vote for the fullest realization of personal greatness.
To materialize your mastery and to lead your finest life, try to make the following five leaps.
Leap #1: The Shift from a Mindset of Can’t to the Mentality of Can
Victims are prisoners of can’t. They relentlessly tell you why an ideal can’t succeed, why an enterprise can’t work and why an ambition can’t happen. Beneath can’t lives fear. Fear of failing, fear of not being good enough, fear of not deserving victory, fear of being criticized, fear of getting hurt and fear of the imagined responsibilities of success. All world-builders and change-leaders are experts at using the language of hope, the vocabulary of execution and the dialect of freedom. They avoid being infected with can’t.
So make the leap to bring greater awareness to the language you use along with the thoughts you think. And then, with that heightened consciousness, begin the process of cleaning out all can’t. And reprogramming in the power of can. Re-ordering your vocabulary toward leadership and exceptionalism is one of the simplest yet most potent ways to escalate your confidence, performance and impact in the world.
Leap #2: The Shift from Making Excuses to Delivering Results
You can make excuses or you can change our world. You don’t get to do both. You can spot a victim by watching how they have a near-instant reason to explain why their life is not working (which never has anything to do with them).
We grow up the instant we assume absolute personal responsibility for the way our results look. And, in so doing, we take back our sovereignty to make the improvements we seek. Every time you restrain yourself from descending into an excuse and instead view yourself as the creator of your life, you’ll receive a corresponding increase in strength. Do this daily and you’ll become an individual of outstanding character, self-discipline, productivity and spiritual liberty.
Leap #3: The Shift from Living in the Past to Making a Brighter Future
Victims are fabulous at living in the past. Yet you cannot embrace your fantastic future with one foot stuck in a bygone era. See your history as an academy you can learn from versus a jail to stay chained in. Employ selective amnesia to remember only the good you’ve been blessed to enjoy. Let go of simmering resentments and languishing disappointments, while exploiting the exquisite growth that hard events have brought to make you a bolder producer and a better person.
Leap #4: The Shift from Being Busy Being Busy to Becoming Productive
Please don’t confuse being busy with being productive. And definitely don’t assume movement equals progress. A packed schedule doesn’t mean you’re getting marvelous things done. Too many good and potentially legendary performers fall into the trap of doing fake work instead of real work. These things are not the same
It’s so much easier to deceive yourself into thinking you have too much to do—and then blame your lack of artistic victory and productive triumph on a hard and cruel world demanding your attention—than to own your game by blocking out all digital distractions and unnecessary interruptions and honoring your native brilliance by doing work that mesmerizes all who witness it
Leap #5: The Shift from Taking from the World to Giving to the World
Listen not to the wisdom of the status quo, which says that success means “winner takes all.” Rather than taking from the world, make it your consistent enthusiasm to give to the world. And to behave in a way that serves all citizens.
Stateswoman Golda Meir once wrote: “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of higher achievement.”
A Teacher Called Trauma
Suffering is a school. And trauma is a teacher.
The dominant message we receive from those who show us how the world works is that trauma is the realm of the broken, damaged and defeated.
They say that it only relates to those who have lived in a war zone or experienced a random act of violence or for those who’ve been sexually abused, beaten up as a kid or suddenly lost someone they loved.
Not true. (And no human is broken; we’re all just wounded, to various degrees.)
Learning how to do the healing work to unfreeze repressed feelings and process through the stored pain of your ancient wounds will absolutely unleash your most special powers, grandest gifts and wisest self. This profound practice to purify your Heartset is also a sovereign act of self-love. Because you’re making yourself into a healthier, happier and freer human.
Many people, on encountering difficulty or tragedy, end up with PTS (Post-Traumatic Stress). Yet if we exercise our wisdom and make difficult choices, each of us has the ability to exploit setbacks for the benefit of personal transformation. Struggle can actually be used for PTG: Post-Traumatic Growth. Just look at the greatest men and women of the world. The Nelson Mandelas and the Mother Teresas and the Mahatma Gandhis and the MLKs. Each of these advanced souls had one thing in common: they suffered far more than what is ordinary, but rather than allowing the hardship to tear them apart, they leveraged it to remake them. To build them up. To remember their highest moral virtue and their greatest spiritual merits. To convert devastating pain into unusual power.
The Dark Sides of Your Upsides
Every gift carries with it a curse of sorts. Every heroic character of Shakespeare’s tragedies possessed both a special talent that made them great as well as a tragic flaw that led to their downfall.
The very blessings that make us amazing are the same qualities that can cause us grief. Every single one of your strengths also contains an associated weakness. Human beings are such experts of duality.
A few examples to bring this insight into sharper focus:
. . . The incendiary drive to get big things done, in an era where very few can break free of the iron chains of diversions and interruptions, to deliver awe-inspiring output, often brings with it the tragic flaw of being extremely impatient with others and brutally hard on yourself.
. . . The artistic integrity that makes your work so honest, excellent and powerful can also lead you to becoming fanatical about perfecting its quality, leading others to call you difficult.
. . . The obsession of holding yourself to virtuoso-league standards, operating at excellence and relentlessly growing your craft, is the same way of doing that makes you feel as though you’ve never achieved enough.
So does all this mean you should shrink from your eminence, stunt your brilliance, or do violence to your masterwork by neglecting your gifts? And slowing the pursuit of your enchantments?
Of course not.
The fact that your inherent genius comes with saboteurs and downsides just means that each of us—as creators, productives and leaders—needs to allow the daylight of our awareness to enhance our clarity around those acts that don’t serve us (and those around us) and manage these less-than-ideal behaviors in an intelligent, responsible and precise fashion.