Heroes are all around you

So about an hour or so ago I was prompted to remember that I haven’t blogged for ages by the brilliant @weeklyblogclub setup who suggested it’s a quiet week for contributions. I haven’t blogged because i’ve been off on the last incidental research adventure and forgetting to stop and write it up! 1 I’ve passed three MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) in that time and so it may be a good time to start to reflect on it again. Not in this post though.

Seeking inspiration then: this weeks WeeklyBlogClub topic is: “Heroes.” To try and kickstart the grey goo back into actually doing some blogging I thought I would set myself the lightningpost challenge of writing about that for half an hour or so. (WWJEDD?)

When I was small I always had in my head that Heroes are a) famous and b) good fighters and c) save the world on a regular basis from monsters. They often have magical powers or divine support or fate’s whim or something like that too. They are not like everybody else because these supernatural elements make them something more.

Of course that is true in films and books and television and as you grow you accept that there’s a little bit more to it and that your hero could be Albert Einstein or Martin Luther King or Buzz Aldrin but really there’s still this thing there, a little dancing belief, that these people have something more than other people do. After that I’ve never really thought on it much…

Coincidentally, this last few weeks has given me a chance to reflect, at least a little bit, on heroes. I’ve been reading a book “Invisible Giants” by Lindsay Levin. It’s good, a little evangelical at times perhaps 2, but ultimately its a very moving personal perspective. The book is about experiences of Leaders Quest – a programme that connects leaders from all sorts of organisations to experiences across the world. That might be taking them to visit a leading university to see the newest rising stars, or it might be visiting a run down shanty town and talking about the aspirations of those individuals who live there too 3. The idea is that it gives people a chance to see the world anew and maybe reflect on what they could add to it. In doing these Quests Lindsay has had opportunity to pick up on all sorts of interesting people who you’ve probably never heard of who are doing some truly great things and she shares their stories through the book. Forget leaders, these could be Heroes but wait they’re not famous?

I’ve also been rechecking in on some of my favorite TED talks. TED is a great place to see the volume of relatively unknown enthusiasts who are doing some great and wonderful things and mostly doing them because they’re passionate about them. Here’s 3 interesting ones: How to Learn Anything in 20 days, The difference between winning and success, How I harnessed the wind . These could all be Heroes but wait they don’t have magical powers?

I’ve also seen some nice videos linked via twitter highlighting a little bit of hero in all of us. My favourite is this one, about the hidden help captured on hundreds of russian car video cameras. People helping people. I think that’s where i need to revisit my childhood definition a bit. These could all be heroes too but wait they’re not fighting to save the world?

So heroes a) are not always famous b) are not always good fighters c) are not saving the world regularly from monsters. Instead they are a) making the world better however they can b) passionate about what they do and c) they never give up in the face of it. The truth of it is, real heroes are just real people trying hard. There’s no magic involved. You’ve probably sat next to one. You might be sat next to one right now.

“Of dreaming there‚Äôs a goal ahead
Of hoping when our dreams are dead
Of praying when our hopes have fled
Yet losing, not afraid to fall
If bravely, we have given all”


  1. The incidental researcher isn’t afraid of the long tail
  2. Most motivational books are
  3. It might just be me but these are the most interesting

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