The Hero Within You

“Heroes make us smile because they not only rescue us outwardly, but inwardly too.” ~ Richelle E. Goodrich

When 5-year-old Jocelyn Rojas went missing, Temar Boggs grabbed his bike, a few friends, and began canvassing the neighborhood. When the 15-year-old spotted a little girl in a car that was backtracking through the neighborhood, his instincts told him the driver was trying to avoid police. Temar gave chase until the driver stopped and pushed Jocelyn out of his vehicle. Temar scooped her up and delivered the girl to police. “I’m just a normal person who did a thing anybody else would do,” he said.[1] But, is he?

Hero DNA. Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Stanford University, researches heroism and says, “The key to heroism is a concern for other people in need—a concern to defend a moral cause, knowing there is a personal risk, done without expectation of reward.” A learned sense of duty to others cultivates heroes, while serving with a network of people and resources make heroes more affective. Zimbardo’s research suggests that anyone given the tools to shift their compassion into actions can be a hero.

Hero’s Resume. In a study of 4,000 people, some 20% helped another in a dangerous emergency, fought for injustice, sacrificed for a stranger, or defied an unjust authority. Heroism occurs most often in urban areas since more people are in need. A hero is more likely to be educated and volunteer often. Although more males then females perform acts of heroism, Zimbardo believes women underreport because they do not see their acts as heroic. Those that experience a personal trauma or disaster were 3 times more likely to act heroically.

Heroic Imagination Project.  The mission of the Heroic Imagination Project (HIP) is to “teach individuals the skills and awareness needed to make effective decisions in challenging situations.”  HIP uses research and education networks to solicit extraordinary acts of heroism from ordinary people.  Believing that heroism is a mindset, HIP seeks to redefine heroism and encourage individuals to act on their beliefs.

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