Of Men & Heroes
Muse on Leadership by Garrett Callahan
When you walk in the shadow of giants, modern day heroes and leaders in culture and society, it can feel very daunting. You sense the great expectation and presence they wield in public spaces, and often you feel like they are gods who walk among us mortals. If we can somehow just shake hands with them or take a picture next to them, we can have the same significance in society as they do, by mere association of saying “I stood next to them.”
I recently worked a conference that’s sole purpose was to inspire leaders. I was brought in to help film a recap of the entire conference from setup to end, which meant I had full access to go anywhere without question. The day before the event I realized there would be some “big deal” people showing up. I’ve been around celebrities before, and I try to treat everyone equally regardless of their public status.
Throughout the course of the day as I listened to each teaching, all power-house speakers sharing profound insight from leaders who live by bold courses of action, I came away feeling overwhelmed and inspired. I thought about Heroes, those we look up to, as a sort of metaphysical icon of what we want in life, and who we want to be. I believe in heroes, but I have also learned that it’s easy to become so obsessed with our heroes that we try to be them. You can’t, nor should you, for in fact the very act of you trying to relive their path to success is the very thing that leads you away from your own story.
Reflecting back, I sought for a common factor between each leader's teachings. I began to realize that each leader focused more on how to live a purposeful and meaningful life, than they did on leadership. Why was that?
Honestly, I think when you spend all your time trying to figure out what a good leaders does and how they act -you make leadership a priority, you actually miss the heart of what it means to be a leader. Great leaders don’t think about leadership all the time. Their focus is on loving and serving others, their actions are what inspire us, and lead us, not their break down of leadership. If you want to be a great leader, then live out of purpose, with conviction, commit your actions to meaningful ways of serving and loving, and others will follow.
In storytelling every Hero goes on a quest. That quest is the very reason he becomes a hero. The heroes I wittiness yesterday, were heroes because they said yes to their own quest. They have endured great conflict, overcome it, and come out a hero. You can never be like them. Be inspired by your heroes, but live your own quest, overcome your own conflicts, and be the hero of your own story.