“Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.” – B. Ashton
Growing up my brother Jim was my hero. He was cool, wore corduroys and could play the first half of Stairway to Heaven on the guitar. I wanted to be just like him.
Yet, he wanted very little to do with me.
He was a typical teenager! A bit self-centered, striving to discover who he was and had little time to spend with his kid brother.
But on January 17, 1987 he woke up to a different path; a different way to “do life” as a teenager.
That day, Jim awoke from a deep sleep in his basement bedroom to the sound of an explosion, smoke alarms and his brother’s cries. He stumbled up the dark staircase, searched through the smoke and saw me in the front hall with flames leaping three feet off of my body.
That day he woke up to an amazing gift of being fully present. He woke up to the possibility of love in action. He woke up to the truth that all great leaders live: it’s not about me, but about what I can do for others. [Tweet this.]
Jim picked up the front door mat, beat the flames off of my body, wrapped me in the mat and carried me outside. He lowered me onto the snow-covered grass, yelled at me to keep rolling around and then raced back into the smoke-filled house. He called 911, reported the fire and told them to send an ambulance. After hanging up, he went room by room in a dark, smoke-filled house making certain everybody, even the dog, was outside and safe.
That day Jim changed.
He woke up. He saved lives. And he became my hero.
So how do you wake up this amazing catalyst to transform your business, your relationships and your life, my friends?
Part of waking up means to stop spending our lives in the future. A focus steeped in tomorrow generates stress, worry, fear or the sense of being totally overwhelmed. The question that hangs continuously over individuals living in the future is “What might happen next?”
On the opposite spectrum are individuals living in the past. The emphasis on yesterday has dire consequences, too. Living in the past smothers us with a sense of missed opportunities. Difficult childhoods, past mistakes, broken relationships, lost dreams, wasted potential. The perpetual backward glance leads to bitterness, guilt, blame or anger. We live in the painful place of repeatedly asking the question “What could have been?”
My friends, the calling for great leaders is to wake up to the present. The opportunities they embrace that empowers them is to come alive to the great now. The question these leaders ask is “What more can I do now?”
Everyday presents small opportunities to be a hero for someone else. [Tweet this.]
The key is stop waiting for Superman to show up tomorrow. You see, real heroes seldom wear capes. They’re typically ordinary and courageous enough to say YES to moment.
At age 17, Jim O’Leary was an unlikely hero. He was not necessarily graced with the characteristics we’d attribute to great heroes. Pale, skinny, and freckled, he awoke from his sleep and saved my life.
Today, wake up the hero within you. The best is yet to come. Starting NOW!