Noah Blumenthal: This is a question of culture change. You could read 100 books on this topic and still have more to learn. But if I were going to distill this down to steps anyone can begin today that can pay some immediate dividends it would be these.
1. Examine your own behavior and be more of a hero yourself. If you don’t lead by example then all of your efforts will be for naught.
2. Recognize and praise heroic attitudes and behaviors. People need clear indications of what is valued.
3. Invite people to join you in your own efforts to be more heroic. As opposed to telling them that they should change explain that this is an area you are working on and would like them to try it with you.
4. Search for alternatives to the victim stories. Instead of criticizing people when they fall into victim mode help them to explore other points of view.
5. Share Be the Hero with your team. Having a collective knowledge base can help you and your team hold one another accountable and increase your learning.
I don’t believe such a person exists. People generally want to improve but don’t understand how to do so. My first book, You’re Addicted to You, is about how to make and maintain changes to unwanted ingrained behaviors.
Specific to this issue of heroism I suggest you follow the steps I described above relative to creating a heroic culture. If after that you are really convinced that someone will never change, then get away from him/her. If it’s your boss, look for a new job. If it’s a colleague, angle for projects that don’t involve him/her. If it’s an employee, coach them out of the role or let them go. That may sound harsh, but in my experience most people who are let go from jobs in which they are miserable find a better alternative. It might hurt short-term, but the end result is positive. And the fewer victims you have in your life, the easier it is for you to think and act like a hero.
There are two things to consider. First, “a difficult time” is relative. I’ve seen a single mother who was laid off with little savings and two small kids talk about how she has the strength to overcome her challenges. I watched a man whose son needed brain surgery and wife was diagnosed with breast cancer say he was filled with hope. The people we see really do make a difference. If your situation seems difficult look around at the people facing much tougher challenges and draw inspiration from them.
Second, understand that “being a hero” is a skill. The more you practice the better you’ll be. It drives me absolutely crazy, but I wrote the book for crying out loud. And I still catch myself going into victim mode at times. That said I don’t go into victim mode as often as I used to and I get out of that mode much faster today than I ever did in the past. Keep practicing and you’ll get better every day.
Additional Blog Posts on this topic:
- Noah Blumenthal Be the Hero – Interview Part I
- 5 Steps to Be The Hero – Interview with Author Noah Blumenthal Part II
- Be the Hero, Not a Victim – Interview of Author Noah Blumenthal Part III