I’ve been pondering being a role model to my kids.
Some people idolise footballers, athletes, film stars or business dragons and I actually think that it matters who you choose to be your hero because it says a lot about you.
After all your heroes and heroines are the figures and people we wish to become or wish to emulate.
They are the people we secretly admire in our quiet moments of pondering and daydreaming.
They represent our potential and our unlimited possibilities.
We pass their values on to our kids who look up to us as role models.
Heroes provide us with a moral compass, a destination that we would like to reach or a core value that speaks to us.
My great friend Ivana sent me a story about the Hero’s Journey and it really resonated with me as I have battled my demons of despair about ever getting my work “out there” to a global audience and struggled to find the right person to help me organise my website and marketing materials, or struggled alone trying to reach parents who were looking for resources to help them raise great children free from judgement, finger pointing or criticism.
I did it one blog at a time, one Tweet at a time, one parent at a time.
And I’m still doing it.
One BBC Radio interview at a time, one keynote speech, one BBC Breakfast interview.
I have had very, very low moments when I nearly gave up. The clients didn’t turn up at first in their hundreds; the money was low at the end of the month – “too much month at the end of the money” as Jim Rohn would say. The people I asked to help me weren’t team fit or able to hold the vision of what I wanted to achieve. I made massive financial mistakes and didn’t budget properly as I pushed on with this inexplicable desire to make a very big difference in the world.
I battled believing in myself as I held the vision of empowering parents with my common sense, down to earth new and different ways to parent, and my faith in wanting to help parents believe in themselves and their ability to raise happy, confident, well-behaved children – tomorrow’s future.
I kept going despite all the adversity when it would have been far easier to have given up.
I just knew that some of my techniques and strategies were different and that being authentic, integral and different was a characteristic that I just had to embrace to be true to myself and to fulfil my true potential.
My vision to make a big difference in the world of family life, and to help raise children with strong self esteem, has kept me up late at night and bouncing out of bed early in the morning even when it seemed that nobody else cared and may have silently thought I was mad!
Sean Wise in his interesting book, “How to be a Business Superhero” talks about the characteristics that all superheroes share:
H is for honourable – the ability to stick to a self imposed moral code – a code that commits them to do the right thing regardless of personal sacrifice.
E is for extraordinary. Heroes aren’t afraid to stand out. In fact they stand up for what’s right when others keep quiet, they work longer, harder or are more focused than others, or they wear red nail varnish and have two toned hair as they are not frightened to be themselves and commit to making the world a better place.
R is for relentless. Being a superhero takes dedication. Heroes are constantly training, constantly striving to improve, to be the best they can be or learn new things.
O is for outspoken. Being heroic is about speaking up for what you believe in and not just going with the flow when you know the flow is flowing in the wrong direction.
I is for inspirational. Heroes do more than simply turn up. They lead, they believe in others and they see the best in others and they inspire them so that others can believe and achieve for themselves.
C is for courageous. Heroes have the courage to keep going when others would have fallen by the wayside long ago, they have courage to smile when it’s seems the darkest, they are different and they are brave for having a go and overcoming fear and they triumph eventually over tough times.
Oriah Mountain Dreamer wrote a poem about courage and bravery and it’s not all about climbing Kilimanjaro or winning a gold medal.
“It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.”
~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer
It’s about getting up in the night for the 8th time to soothe your troubled baby, or ironing a shirt or a skirt at 5.30 in the morning for another, or giving a Toffee Crisp chocolate bar to your young son at university with a smile, as you pay his last demand bill because he hasn’t got enough money to pay it.
That’s being a hero.
That’s making a difference.
I wrote this blog to inspire you to find your true life’s purpose, to fulfil your destiny and to break out of your comfort zone to be the hero of your own life and to be the hero that your children can truly look up to.
Being a hero is nothing more than striving for greatness – whatever that means personally for you.
It’s about striving to be extraordinary and daring to dream about changing your family circumstances, your family relationships, your community, or the world, through your personal dedication to success, rather than to be satisfied simply going through the motions of life exhausted, disillusioned, angry or just stressed.
It’s about applying a heroic mindset your life….. and stepping up to be brave enough to see it through.
So grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down who your heroes are and why and what they represent to you?
Are you a Batman, Superman, Cat Women, Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, Richard Branson, Freddie Flintoff, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Wayne Rooney or David Beckham?
Are you going to wear a cap and gown and pants over your trousers quite happily or perhaps you will step up quietly and humbly making your impact through your gentle passion and presence?
Just grab a cup of coffee and a pen and paper and jot down the top 5 values that you want to pass on to your kids, things like having tenacity, being trustworthy, being honest or seeing the best in people – whatever are your values, ethos or philosophies about life.
My Dad taught me that “Life is what YOU make it” and he modelled compassion, laughter, joy and reliability.
It’s not a chore to be a hero or heroine – just decide what sort you want to be and step up !
Here’s the Story Of A Hero’s Journey – enjoy!
STAGES OF THE HERO’S JOURNEY
The Ordinary World
The Ordinary World is the beginning of your journey. You’re surrounded by people who seem to be contented with their lot. You’re quite comfortable with them and with your world, but something inside you is restless. Something inside is telling you that there’s more to life than this unchallenging daily existence. Or, you are in a place of unhappiness and disadvantage. You are ill, addicted, or in an abusive relationship. You know things need to change but you don’t necessarily know what you want that’s different, and if you do know, it looks as though it’ll take a lot of effort and may be more trouble than it’s worth.
Your ordinary world is a familiar zone and you are a passive victim of it. If you want to break free you have to listen to what’s going on inside you and notice what’s going on around you. You have to realise you are the hero of your own life’s story and that story doesn’t need to be boring, self-centred or a victim’s tale.
Hearing the call
Your comfort zone has been invaded. What do you really want? What do you really believe? Are you a victim of fate? Is there nothing you can do about your future? Or do you have a destiny that only you can command and only you can decide to fulfil? Pay attention to your heart. What do you really want to do? What sort of hero are you going to be?
The call to change can come from any direction, inside you or from outside. You hear the call and realise your ideal can become a reality. But how are you going to achieve it? Where and when does your journey start?
Refusing the call
You were excited about the real possibility that there is more to life than your ordinary world, but now you’re scared. You’ve realised that changing is going to ask for more than you are sure you are capable of. You stop, and you think you might give up. Don’t give up, but notice that the questions you’re now asking about your journey are serious. It means you’re serious. You’ve realised you’re not going to change overnight. You’ve barriers to overcome, people to deal with, and inner doubts and fears.
People, events and your own fear can trip you up. Turn your doubts into questions and answer them. What do you really have to deal with before you start? How many of the obstacles are real?
Meeting the Mentor
You don’t know for sure that you’ve got what it takes to go on your journey, but your Mentor does know. Everyone needs someone to believe in them and to give them advice, but it’s not always obvious who that person is. In stories, the Mentor is usually a wise woman or man. Whom do you trust? Whose advice would you follow? Who makes you feel that you can believe in yourself, because they believe in you?
To deal with the problems you come across, you need the help of a Mentor. This is someone who has more life experience than you who can help you. It’s someone you trust.
Crossing the threshold
You know what your goals are and you’ve confronted your doubts. It doesn’t mean you’ve stopped being scared, but your Mentor believes in you and you believe in your Mentor so that gives you courage. Something is making you decide to take the plunge. Inside, you know it’s now or never.
You’re not an idiot: you know what you’re doing. The journey’s risky but it’s not foolhardy. It’s important. It’s time to go.
Trials, allies and enemies
So the journey isn’t easy. You knew it wouldn’t be, but knowing something isn’t the same as experiencing it. People you thought would help turn out to be obstacles. Others you thought were enemies turn out to be important allies. You can feel yourself changing: you realise you need other people’s help and other people need you. You’re getting stronger and wiser about yourself and you understand the world around you better. And you don’t give up.
The way you deal with the people and events that meet you on your journey will shape your future. Be courageous but circumspect. Never call mistakes failures: learn from them and move on.
Facing the darkness
This is the long, hard slog. You’ve come a long way and you thought you’d achieved a lot, but now you are not so sure. People around you are letting you down or expressing doubts in you. You haven’t seen your Mentor for a long time – perhaps they’ve left or died. You feel lonely and inadequate. Maybe you haven’t got what it takes to reach your destination. But you’ve burned your bridges: you can never go back to your ordinary world.
Whatever is going on inside you and outside you, however dark it gets, don’t give up. The hardest part of the journey happens towards the end. If you’re going through hell, keep going.
The great ordeal
And now you’re asked to make the greatest sacrifice of all. In the stories, this is the big, decisive battle, when the hero gives everything in service of the goal. You had no idea you had it in you, but now you are stronger and wiser and braver and you know you can do it. It’s the last push, and it feels a bit like dying. But you go for it.
You’ve been tested on your journey and not found wanting. You believe in your ideal and you are not going to give up now. Every part of you is engaged in winning your goal. You have never felt so alive, and never felt so motivated as now.
Claiming the prize
You did it! You really did it! What you did was harder than you could possibly have imagined, and you would never have believed yourself capable of it. But you were and you know that you were, because you are the hero, the main character in your life’s journey, and nobody can take that away from you.
You know what you went through and you know you deserve the prize. But – what a strange anticlimax it is!
A new level of life
Through your own experience you have discovered qualities of bravery, wisdom, patience, compassion and strength inside yourself. They aren’t on a wish list: they’re yours and you’ve seen yourself display them. That means you can help others. The reason you felt an anticlimax when you achieved your goal is because there is always more to discover and achieve, particularly when you want to help others.
You can help others now because you’ve got something to give. So what’s your next journey going to be about?
And I’d like to thank my Dad,Tony Robbins, Paul McKenna, Jim Rohn and all my friends for inspiring me and believing in me – and to all the parents and children I have ever worked with – you are the real heroes. You rock !
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About the author
Sue Atkins is a Parenting Expert who offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children. She is also the author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” one in the famous black and yellow series published worldwide and the highly acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs. She regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and her parenting articles are published all over the world.
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Sue Atkins the Parenting Expert
T: + 44 1883 818329 M: 07740 622769