Sue Shellenbarger’s article in the Wall Street Journal, “Are you a hero or a bystander?” will help you analyze your potential to be a hero. It’ll give you clues as to whether you’re likely to step up in a crisis. The article is typical of a way of thinking that’s irrelevant, misleading and destructive.
Some of the hidden assumptions behind the article are:
- You are who you are; which is a product of the way you’ve been raised.
- If you have certain beliefs – the reasons people gave for why they stepped up in a crisis – then that will determine how you’ll act. If you don’t have those beliefs, you’re stuck as a bystander.
- If we examine the factors that people give for why they act brave, then we understand heroism and we can replicate it.
That approach is a dead end and a waste of time; it’s all mental and irrelevant in human affairs.
Instead, try a much simpler approach:
- Confront your fears.
- Decide how you want to act in any 10 recent examples that have made the headlines – the shooting in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, witnessing a car crash, hearing someone scream for help, etc.
- Train yourself to act the courageous way you want to without thinking in the moment.
I know that sounds too simple but give it a try.
Remember, that’s the way we train cops, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, etc. That’s the way we train football, basketball and soccer players. They do the drills over and over and over until they react the way they want without thinking.
For example, only a small percent of us will go to war, but a large percent of us will witness harassment, bullying and abuse. How do you want to respond in the moment? Do you want to be a bystander or spectator? Do you want to be a witness or a defender?
Train yourself – discipline and preparation.
Remember Captain Chesley Sullenberger. He’s the pilot who put that commercial, jumbo jet full of passengers down in the Hudson River with no loss of life. He didn’t crash into Manhattan, which would probably have killed thousands. How did he know what to do? He’ll tell you that he heard of something horrific when he was about 11 years old, when people simply looked away instead of being courageous. He vowed he’d always act bravely and he trained himself to be prepared so he could act effectively. Discipline and practice.
Never accept that you are the way you are – fixed in stone – because of the genetics, family of origin, beliefs, values and attitudes you grew up with.
History is not destiny.
Instead, determine how you want to be and then train yourself. It’s the only way to have a chance to be the person you want to be.
It’s your life. Be the hero of your life.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, expert coaching by phone or Skype helps. We can design a plan that fits you and your situation. And build your will and skill to carry it out effectively.