Challenge: This Week, Be A Hero. Martha Beck
I’m headed into the African bush again tomorrow, with a bunch of people who are no doubt asking, “What the hell they’ve gotten myself into?” I have a challenge for you to tackle while I’m gone. In five days, when I come back (assuming I don’t do something foolish involving enormous fanged animals) I’d love to hear how it goes.
Here’s the thing: it’s never the right time for an adventure. In every culture’s hero saga, the first event is that the hero hears a “call to action.” The second event isn’t a fearless leap into the fray. It’s the hero’s refusal of the call. That’s right; every hero from Odysseus to Xena, Warrior Princess, hears the voice of destiny and sprints immediately the other direction.
You see, no one can afford a hero saga. No one has the time. No one is free from other obligations. The right moment to do something heroic feels a lot like never.
We all hear the “call to action” from time to time, and all of us—all of us—say “no.” What differentiates heroes is that they change their minds and head back toward the dragon’s lair, shaking their heads and thinking, “What the hell have I gotten myself into?”
When this question appears in your life, congratulations! You may well be headed toward your ultimate purpose. At the very least, you’re having an adventure. And you don’t have to go to Africa; your next heroic task may be to have a baby or change jobs or stand up for yourself. The key is to follow the call—the impulse to do something extraordinarily inconvenient and demanding.
Here’s my challenge for you: If you want to find your passion, know your life’s purpose, meet your soulmate, or feel intensely alive, don’t look toward the fun things that fit logically into the flow of an easy life. Ask yourself, “What am I running away from?” Whatever that thing is, turn around. Walk toward it. Face it and conquer it, or die trying.
Most of the time—in fact, every time but one—you won’t die But you will question yourself every other step, get exhausted, be scared half to death. You’ll regret accepting the call a thousand times. Only when it’s over will you truly realize how grand your adventure felt, and what an awesome story you have to tell.
Take the challenge this week, and see what happens. I’ll meet you back here, having met a few more heroes myself, the hear how it all works out.