The title of this post may sound like the beginning of bad joke, but it is a focus on another thing we have to be thankful for – childhood heroes. When I was growing up, I admired many people for many different reasons. This is natural as you are growing and looking to establish your own identity. One of the first people I can recall thinking was ‘cool’ was Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of the Australian band INXS. He was the singer of a popular band, he was kind of dark and mysterious, dated models and appreciated good food and wine. Then I remember seeing a James Bond movie. Other than wondering why a British spy would have a Scottish accent (Sean Connery) I admired the cool that dripped off him. Always dressed to the nines, enjoying a martini, “Shaken, not stirred.” He stopped the bad guy, got the girl and never seemed to get his suit dirty. Lastly, there was John Wayne. What young boy back in the day didn’t play cowboys? It wasn’t the shooting and horse riding that I admired about this cowboy. No, I admired that even in the stickiest of situations, he managed to stick to his principles and always do the right thing, even if it wasn’t the easiest thing.
As I grew older I appreciated my heroes for an entirely different reason, their faults. I could learn from their mistakes. The Aussie fell victim to many of the excesses he enjoyed. As well as a fateful argument with a taxi cab driver while intoxicated. This lead to bouts of depression and ended with his assumed suicide. I learned there are limits to even the finest things in life. It may have taken me a while to learn this lesson, but I got there. I also learned that physical altercations while intoxicated never have good outcomes. Still, I enjoy good food and wine. On a side note, I am also dating a lady that should be a model, but chose baker instead. The spy certainly had his faults as well. Too many martinis does not help you catch the bad guy, it usually turns you in to the bad guy. Seldom, if you are doing any kind of work, you will get your suit dirty. I don’t wear a suit, but I have plenty of adventures and did end up with my very own Bond girl. Lastly, John Wayne. I do my best to always do the right thing especially in tough situations. If I don’t, it isn’t because of my intentions but my lack of knowledge. I don’t settle things through physical means as The Duke was sometimes known to do. One thing I did get from John Wayne, as well as my favorite book How to Win Friends and Influence People, is to always afford the other party a chance to save face. Especially if you are right or have come out ahead in a particular situation. Embarrassing or humiliating the other party only makes your ego happy. The side-effect is you come out looking like the jerk. Not to mention you create an enemy. This isn’t the wild west, but you never know when the two of you may cross paths again. If they remember the respect you showed them when you were on top, that can go a long way. This lesson has paid off several times in my own life.
Think of your own childhood heroes. Why did you admire them? What positive qualities did you strive to emulate? Do you have them currently or are you working towards developing them? What can you learn from their faults? Heroes or not, nobody is perfect. We can learn from their faults just as we can learn from our own. Life is too short for any of us to make all the mistakes and learn all of the lessons we need to. If you do all of this, you will find your life not only begins to resemble the life of your heroes, but you will look in the mirror one morning to discover you have become your own hero.