The following is an excerpt from the book Who Do You Want To Be A Hero To? by Dan Sullivan.
In my many conversations with people about the greatest experiences of their professional and personal lives, a recurring theme emerges: They tell me about a time when someone was a hero to them.
These experiences always make them feel incredibly positive about that person, and that positivity is permanent—even decades later, the memory of it is vivid.
The other experience that constantly shows up as a great one for people is having the opportunity to be a hero to someone else.
By “being a hero,” I don’t mean that you have to leap off a cliff for somebody. It can be as simple as connecting two people who would have a great business partnership. There are situations that come up where your intention is to help another person just for the purpose of helping them—that’s what I mean by being a hero.
Best outside reality.
We do a lot of funny thinking about what’s real and what isn’t because there often seem to be discrepancies between what’s happening inside of ourselves and what’s happening outside of ourselves.
So what can you use as a constant outside reference point to check out the reality of who you are, and in such a way that you don’t have to give too much thought to it?
Here’s the answer: your measurable impact on other people’s growth and achievement. It continually proves the reality of your own unique progress, and that’s one attractive part of the idea of growing yourself as a hero to an increasing number of other individuals.
It’s measurable quantitatively because their progress is being measured, but it’s also qualitative because the people you’re a hero to give you feedback on how your help was crucial to their growth.
It’s all related to specifics: a specific individual, specific progress and results, and the specific capability or set of capabilities you bring to the process.
When it’s someone else.
The best way to determine how you can be a hero to someone is by considering the times that other people have uniquely contributed to your own success in being a more capable and confident individual.
As you increasingly become a hero to other people, you become more keenly aware of how other people are being heroes to you.
It expands in both ways, and the deep appreciation you feel when someone else is a hero to you is what other people feel when you’re a hero to them.
But if you’re always giving without taking, or you’re always taking without giving back, the benefits will run dry. The reality has to increase both inside of yourself and outside of yourself—they’re necessary for each other.
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When you’re the hero.
If you think back, you’ll probably find you’re most proud of all the times and situations when your performance and contribution enabled others to grow and achieve in ways that were crucially important for them.
And it’s never about what you think the other person should do; it’s about what they really want to do and see as being crucial for themselves.
Just as you’re always working toward a future you envision, when you’re a hero to someone else, you’re operating with their version of the future in mind. It’s important to be helpful based on the other person’s purpose, and help in a way that’s in accordance with their own game plan.
Instant powerful focus.
Being a hero is always the purpose that most focuses and multiplies our best energies and skills in any situation.
It’s like having a constant true north—you’ve established the correct direction right from the beginning, and you’re not worried about the means because the means will be whatever’s necessary to get there.
There’s no way to predict exactly what means will be required, but being a hero to other people can always be the focus of your own development of capability. That’s the direction you can always be going in.
With so many people you could spend your time helping, deciding who it is you want to be a hero to can take away all complexity from the situation by eliminating the alternatives and setting you up to move ahead with a clear goal and purpose.
The question, “Who do you want to be a hero to?” helps you narrow down and define your purpose in life by identifying your true audience and how you can create value for them.
Nothing’s appreciated more.
No matter who we are or where we are, we deeply appreciate everyone who’s ever been a hero to us, and every one of those people has the same deep appreciation for every person who’s been a hero to them.
This is a constant reality, and it can be a focusing purpose for you as it is for many others. All of this intense meaning, purpose, and value creation starts with just this one thing: someone contributing crucially to another individual’s growth and achievement.
And it works best when the only reason you’re doing it is because you can be crucially useful to another person.
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are. Getting clear about who you want to be a hero to tells you about what capabilities you need to focus on and what capabilities of others you need to surround yourself with so you can keep expanding.
From a single individual to teamwork, you can have your whole organization being a hero to the right audience.