Morry Patoka

Chief Accelerator, CTC Consulting

This conversation is closed.

We can all be heros! We share many of the same insecurities and fears, so why do some people take action while others continue to look away?

Heros aren't born, they're just like any of us. Fearful. Worried. Distracted. Reluctant. Everyday people who find themselves in extraordinary situations. The difference happens when we do something about it. Sometimes it's instinctive, like protecting a friend from being bullied or put down. Other times it gets to a point that we just can't look the other way any longer.

When we watch movies, why are we drawn to the reluctant hero? The one who has to overcome his own fears and issues and doubts before standing up to face adversity. It's because that hero is a reflection of us. We can be that hero, too. There are thousands of opportunities around us all the time. We just have to open our eyes and our hearts to see that we're needed and believe that we can make a difference. It's as simple as taking that first step. Once you start, you can't help but do more.

I'd appreciate hearing your perspectives, and stories of everyday heros who stepped out of their everyday lives to make a difference.

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    Jan 2 2012: Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts. Fantastic perspectives and comments.

    The idea, or more accurately, the “ideal” of being a full time hero is not entirely realistic. Hey, even Superman had a day job. While we hear about people who have dedicated their lives to doing heroic work, I believe that most heroes are made in increments. Sometimes, many small actions over a lifetime can add up to superhero status. Isn’t that part of the reason we see our parents as heroes, time and time again coming to our rescue?

    Maybe we make the concept of hero too lofty an ideal. For most of us it’s rarely a big Hollywood moment backed by explosions and a dramatic music score. It’s more about seeing something that needs to be made right, and having the courage to do something about it. Not once in our lives, but throughout our lives.
    • Jan 4 2012: As is often the case, signifcance comes more often from small acts than from larger, dramatic situations where there's a clear cut choice between doing good and doing evil. Perhaps part of the challenge of rising to the occasion is pushing through the foggy gray area and finding clarity.
  • Jan 8 2012: When I read this question, in all honesty, my father was the one that came to mind. Not that he was every able to push a bus or anything but because in my opinion, he was my everyday hero. The smallest things throughout my childhood we're always saved by my father. My father was a simple man and in every way nothing like a typical 'hero' but he taught me the most important thing a person could ever learn - i can be a good person. There are good people out there and it is merely up to us whether we choose certain traits such as morals and habits which would make me a good person. Everyday he was help, everyday he was a listener, everyday he was a leader and he treated everyone the same. Simple as that might be, the world could do with a bit of equality and good people. Or maybe im still just naive.
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    Jan 8 2012: This is perhaps the most significant question of our life.

    Aside from those who intentionally choose a full-time heroic career ( like Alberto Cairo, mother Theresa, firefighters, etc. etc.) , being a hero is in rising to the occasion as you maybe asked by the circumstance in which you find yourself. This means taking ACTION to rescue, to PREVENT harm, to SAVE the good, to REPAIR harm done by you or by someone else. It is in daily small amounts of courage. Most often being a hero is simply speaking up with a few true words on time.

    The differential one must climb, is simply the gap between one's own conscience and the level of awareness one chooses to live at. When you know that you know, you can look the other way and allow fear to hold you back..... but the problem is you can't deny it inside yourself !!!!!
    • Jan 16 2012: Thanks Juliette. As we choose to increase our level of awareness, the gap between what "is" versus what "ought" widens and it becomes more difficult to turn back. Like you said, if you do, your relationship with yourself suffers. The only choice one has is to move forward and attempt to close the gap through action.
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    Jan 8 2012: Great question. The "hero" is Superman and it is my grandmother.
    When I was a child we would spend most of the summer with her in Tennessee. Every evening during dinner there would be quiet knocks on the front door. We are from the south and women didn't typically sit at the table with the family. They were running around pulling things out the oven, adding more sugar to your tea and making ice cream cones for the littles that were done eating. No one would notice my grandmother going to the front door with a casserole dish and a bag of food for each person that was quietly knocking. It wasn't until I was a little older-7 or 8, did I realize my grandmother, a child born right before the Depression, was feeding those that did not have. This was a women, oldest of nine, that did not have shoes until she was 13 or 14. She was always my Hero, the silent recognition of this at that moment made it real. We never talked about this evening rituals. There are millions of Hero's that do not wear red capes.
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    Jan 4 2012: Looking away is an action. The rest is a judgment.
  • Jan 3 2012: Studies have shown that the reasons humans don't act include;

    1.) The more intensely we work towards a goal or value, the less we notice competing goals or values. Example; late for a meeting so we walk by someone in need on the street.

    2.) The larger the group, the less likely we are to act because of a diffusion of responsibility.

    3.) To look at something difficult, one experiences pain. If our underlying core belief is to be happy, why would anyone want to experience this? However, if one wants a meaningful and fulfilling life, then discomfort comes with the territory.

    4.) We have two forms of morality. We tend to be more moral regarding things that we can see, feel, and touch versus things we can't. Example; We would save a child that was drowning in front of us without a second thought but 27,000 children die a day in which many could be saved at little cost.

    I came back from Haiti last week and was in Cite Soleil where the kids ate dirt to fill their stomachs. I saw poverty worse than I have seen in other parts of the world and experienced not only moments of terror, but of extreme sadness. I would not give up these experiences for anything and plan to work there. I know I need to see it and feel it in order to take consistent and direct action.
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      Jan 4 2012: Good to know what you share to everybody about your journey to Haiti and your plan in the future.
      Helping other to go pass difficult situations.
      Brian, you are hero :)
  • Dec 31 2011: I think many of us are heros (males) and heroines (females).

    We just don't see ourselves as such. Altruism and kindness along with a conscience keeps us from seeing ourselves as such. Every mom and dad who has raised a child, every teacher, doctor, nurse, fire fighter, trashman, store clerk, etc.... plays a role in making our lives what they are.

    We don't really need to be called a hero, or to be acknowledged by anyone to help our fellow man. Being aware of others and having empathy for others moves ordinary human beings to do extraordinary things for others.

    Extraordinary acts of kindness are very noticeable.....saving someone from a sinking boat, taking a baby out of a burning car, it's great to see such bravery. Not everyone can swim, and also not everyone has the self-confidence to plunge into a burning car to save another human. I think each time we see such heroics, we are greatful that such confident humans exist.

    We are all so different.....that's what makes us unique.

    I love this quote: "If you can't do great things, do small things in great ways". Napolean Hill
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    Dec 31 2011: No one is born a hero.true. We have to be loved so that we are free to love and know how to do this. It has to be a societal beneficial act that fosters good. Everyone is fearful but some are so compassionate that they do the unthinkable.
  • Dec 31 2011: Hi Mr. Morry, you hit it on the very idea! "It's as simple as taking that first step"
    Our own, hero's depend on our role models. My hero, is my mom. I am lucky. She had a bad time. She pulled her as-- out of her head, then decided to raise kids. It was not easy, I remember that! She is my hero. :)
    • Dec 31 2011: Sometimes pulling your head out of your a** IS the the most difficult stage of moving towards a positive direction....and the hardest to do,sometimes, as YOU were the one who put it up there in the first place...
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    Jan 15 2012: Personally, i feel that we humans have a tendency of being lazy and trying to find the easier way out of the things.
    People fight out when circumstances come to strangle them. Its like this an empty stomach makes you search for work. While if we are full, we think of resting and sleeping.

    Generally we as teenagers always have lots of hopes and optimism towards life. We plan a lot about a very bright future. However, once we get a good job, start earning we get settled.
    This feeling about settlement, being in cyyontrol of our life make us lazy. We slowly and unknowingly build a frame around us which we hardly dare to cross. then we have a person who won't take new challenges, some calculated risk, some new venture. We remain self satisfied about our life. That is what kills or rather hibernates the hero in us. We need to constantly provide challenges to our hero so that he can show his heroism.

    As said, necessity is mother of invention.
    I would say adversity is the spark that ignites heroism.
  • Jan 11 2012: Sounds like the David Bowie song ... in some cases I can be a hero but if I stop to think too long and engage at an intellectual level rather out of compassion I can talk myself out of it.
    There are all sorts of heroes including those who will take time to be with someone that "normal" society often shuns, acts of selfless kindness, acts that cost us something and acts that require danger to our physical or mental well being ....

    And a person can be a hero one day and the next walk right on by ...

    Findamentally for me at the heart is the ability to step outside my own narrow constraints, bias and self serving mentality to seek the diminution of suffering for another ... it could be as simple as supporting a person's argument or aspect of it where others are shouting it down.

    The more we engage with the right of us all to express ourselves so long as we do not deliberate harm the more we become a community of heroes ...
  • Jan 10 2012: It all comes down to caring. Those who care the most do it, they carry out their deeds without thought. Those who remain frozen simply dont feel it enough, their fear is greater than their need to react and fight back.
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    Jan 4 2012: I think everybody can become a hero but the way they do is not the same the other. A donor who donates money, food, stuff to the poor; a priest who preys for our safe and sadness; a musician who sings to raise money for handicap children and that sort of things.
    From that, I would say everyone who does the good things to help other is heroes.
  • Jan 4 2012: I LOVE YOU MAN you make me optimistic
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    Dec 31 2011: One needs the openness and empathy to notice and feel others' pain (a personality trait that is likely partly genetic and partly nurture), the confidence and willingness to take a risk to stand up for the unpopular (probably also partly genetic and partly nurture), and the knowledge or creativity to know how to stand up effectively. Some people will take a stand on principle, even without expectation of making change. This would be a reflection of a compelling value to stand up for right against wrong. Others will not stand up unless they feel they are likely to be able to make concrete change. The latter involves a weighing of risks against potential benefits.
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    Dec 31 2011: Morry, you have beautifully detailed your ideas. The extraordinary things what ordinary people do which makes them heroes. When they get involved in the act it is not with the intention of becoming a hero... and this is what is important.

    Just to take your idea ahead, what is important is the actual moment where the masses would be reluctant and where one among them would emerge for that situation. Like for someone has met with an accident and there are lots of onlookers but one among them would actually plunge into action making him/ her an extraoridnary person.

    One has to work on oneselves to rise to any situation and make it a way of life ...... the purpose would be simple.... making ordinary life a bit extraordinary :)
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    Dec 31 2011: In my opinion, there are-among others- cultural reasons that are bringing us to this point. We are generally raised and educated to follow the rules that somebody else ( we may call it society here) traced out there for us. It is a part of the system. We are not educated to trust in ourselves and follow our way, and then we rarely dare to be different. But then, in every single person there is that idea, as you nicely explained, that something can be done, that you have a way, knowledge, skills, talents to make a difference, and it does not have to be " the action movie super hero" kind of thing, but it is a nice metaphor. My answer would be: raise the children in a way to believe that their actions really matter, that they can and they will make a difference, and you would have completely different story.
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    Dec 30 2011: what I know is that u are right in saying in that heroes are not born but are made or rather they make themselves such. the only difference is they have that little courage for taking action, and that courage again needs to be planted inside us:)
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    Dec 30 2011: to be fair, the attitude that we can all be hero's is a positive one. though realistically not everyone has the time to dedicate themselves to a cause AND feed themselves. some choose to be activists others artists etc. also one cannot truly be a hero without contrast to others. though i suppose those who follow leaders are as much a part of that leaders power as the leader themselves. overall i would say the claims and aspirations of your topic of conversation are exorbitantly broad.
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    Jan 17 2012: Some people have had their sense of optimism hammered out of them. You want a nation of cowards?, just keep them depressed with a sense of futility about the future. All heroes are idealists, they sense that their action will benefit someone other than themselves. This is related to our instinct to protect our young. Even animals will sacrifice themselves to guard their children knowing that survival of the self is subsequent to and derived from from the larger domain of survival of their species. Yes, heroism is an instinct.
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    Jan 6 2012: I think Heroism is in the timing - We are all already heroes - we've either reacted and had our time or we are waiting for the right time when fate smiles at destiny - boom Hero...
  • Jan 3 2012: Studies have shown that the reasons humans don't act include;

    1.) The more intensely we work towards a goal or value, the less we notice competing goals or values. Example; late for a meeting so we walk by someone in need on the street.

    2.) Social norms. The larger the group, the less likely we are to act because of a diffusion of responsibility.

    3.) To look at something difficult, one experiences pain. If our underlying core belief is to be happy, why would anyone want to experience this? However, if one wants a meaningful and fulfilling life, then discomfort comes with the territory.

    4.) We have two forms of morality. We tend to be more moral regarding things that we can see, feel, and touch versus things we can't. Example; We would save a child that was drowning in front of us without a second thought but 27,000 children die a day in which many could be saved at little cost.

    I came back from Haiti last week and was in Cite Soleil where the kids ate dirt to fill their stomachs. I saw poverty worse than I have seen in other parts of the world and experienced not only moments of terror, but of extreme sadness. I would not give up these experiences for anything and plan to work there. I know I need to see it and feel it in order to take consistent and direct action.
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    Dec 31 2011: As you say heros are common people placed in extraordinary situations. It is the getting involved part that is of interest to me. Have you called 911? I called and it appeared to me that the conversation was directed toward me more than the situation I called about. Who was I? Where do I live? My phone number? I have nothing to hide and would call again. However, I do not like the loss of time, the implications, the attitude of the operators. My name becomes part of a case and could if released endanger my family depending on what I called about. Even as I called I heard all about me I don't want to get involved. As I said I would do it again, but the system could be made to make people feel better about being good citizens.