Who's your hero?

"Name two people, living or dead, who are your heroes," my friend asks us as part of an ice-breaker activity.

I’m puzzled. I don’t have heroes. I pause and wonder why that is. And if I did have heroes, who would they be?

I Google “hero” hoping to get some understanding of my no-hero syndrome. Typically Canadian, I feel like I may be thinking too highly of myself.

The definition of “hero” clears up this illusion.

Hero: a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

It is the “idealized” word that stops me cold. That definition sheds light on my reservation around the hero word. Idealized is someone or something that is regarded or represented as perfect or better than in reality.

Perfect annoys me. My feet are firmly grounded in reality. Anything better than reality – I am not into it. It reminds me of how perfect the images are on HD TVs – they are clearer than I see with my glasses. And the movie seems all the less authentic because of it.

Life will press people down. And often, that reveals the authentic person.

Especially during difficult times, anyone who consistently, sincerely lifts people up gains the ability to influence, to lead.

What inspires me most? I invite you to remind yourself of people who have inspired you.

And I invite you to not be too “Canadian” and think about who you have inspired.

  • People who are willing to do hard things, new things
  • People who are prepared to put their fears behind them
  • People who can see the other side of a challenge
  • People who stay positive, optimistic
  • People who keep their heads when those around them are losing theirs, to misquote Rudyard Kipling
  • People who act with kindness when they have not been treated kindly
  • People who love with abandon
  • People who act with grace when they may not be inclined to
  • People who don’t give up and people who “know when to hold them, know when to fold them,” as the lyrics from The Gambler sung by Kenny Rogers reminds us
  • People who encourage
  • People who see the light in others
  • People who freely express themselves with art, with words, with food, with kind touches, with warm greetings
  • People who see beyond the actions, beyond hurtful words, to empathy

Do you want to be a hero? Or do you want to be inspiring?

Heroes are rare and idealized – they must be brave and accomplished.

People who inspire can be found everywhere.

In your mind and your conversation, change the question from “Who is your hero?” to “Who inspires you?” I think you will find the list will be almost endless.

And finally, in your own way, who will you inspire?


The Who is not you

“It is the best idea for you. Ever.” I’m vibrating as I explain to my friend how she can launch a course she has designed.

“Write the highlights as if it were a screenplay. Create an animation video and start to share it with your sphere of influence – they will love it!”

The only thing she heard was “create an animation video.”

“I don’t know how to do animation,” she said flatly. Like a pansy wilting in the heat, the idea died for her.

That was a light bulb moment for me.

She didn’t get it.

It’s the vision. To accomplish our goals, we need to consider Who not How.

There is a Who out there who can do the How. Learning all the Hows of life will slow us down. If we wait to know how to do all the Hows of our goals and dreams, we may never get more than a few feet from our starting line.

But if we can find a Who, the How is a non-issue.

I slowed down for my friend.

“Your strength is writing the course, creating the path, the vision. If you attempt to be good at everything, it will be slow, frustrating and may never come to fruition.

She was still rattled by my enthusiasm, so I let the silence linger. and for that thought to sink in.

“Tell me more about your vision,” I said, slowly, with less emphasis.. “What do you want to accomplish? Why this is important to you? Why it will be important to the people who buy your course?”

Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach and psychologist Benjamin Hardy collaborated to describe the WhoNotHow philosophy in a book by the same name.

My four biggest takeaways from that book are these:

Procrastination is wisdom. Research shows that when we lack the skills and abilities to do the job, we tend to procrastinate. This realization removes the negative self-talk attached to procrastination and can direct us to find someone who can complete the task. And we can do tasks that honour our talents.

Find Whos for all aspects of our lives. I hate bookkeeping. I can do it, but it is painful, draining, and time-consuming. When I found someone who loved turning numerical chaos into a work of art, my life shifted. I got to focus on what I did best, which included making more money to pay for the bookkeeping to be done by someone else.

Avoid using the wrong Whos. Back to the bookkeeping example. I needed a bookkeeper. I knew someone who had done simple bookkeeping but, in hindsight, not at a level I needed. A few months of the wrong Who meant it took the right Who more than a year to clean up the mistakes. Being clear about the What and Why will help attract the right Who.

Create effective collaborations. The right Whos will give support and encouragement. And they will know other Whos of similar values and integrity. More Whos, more talented Whos means faster results, more goal achievement, more getting to use our best skills and talents.

For many entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs, “the devil is in the details” and they place most of their efforts into them. However, as a business professor once told me, the sequence for success is Vision, Strategy, and then Operations or Details.

This flows into Who not How.

  • We create the Vision – for our lives, for our businesses.
  • We clearly describe the What and Why.
  • The Whos, who are our allies, are drawn to this What and Why.
  • They embrace it and work on the strategy and the details to make it happen.
  • This becomes the How.
  • Our dreams, our goals become reality.

And barriers like knowing how to create an animation video are merely part of the How for the Whos in your life, the Who who is not you.

The Rule of 72

I hate it when I don’t follow my advice. My own really, really good advice.

I was about to make a big announcement, an announcement that would change everyone’s life, and I ignored that advice.

In my consulting practice, I recommend the Rule of 72. As a leader, when a big change is being proposed, as much as you can, give people time to think about it.

  • The first 24 hours, they are likely highly resistant to the idea.
  • The second 24 hours, they start coming around to it.
  • By the third 24 hours, to make up 72 hours, they think it’s their idea and offer little to no resistance.

I was selling my company and introducing my admin and marketing team to the new owners. They were being informed a day ahead of the sales team.

To say they were blind-sided was an understatement. They knew me. Understood me. I was their rock. And in a breath, they learned all that was going to change.

Selling a business is a tricky business. It’s complicated. If word of the sale hits the street too early, there is the risk of losing employees and clients. And if the sale does not complete, then the cat is out of the bag, creating unnecessary uncertainty for everyone.

The Rule of 72, the recommendation to give people time to change, is particularly relevant to the Green behavioural style people who like to start and finish a task without interruption. People who don’t like conflict and are resistant to change.

It is not unusual for these people to fill support roles. These were the people sitting in the room about to meet their new bosses, right after I tell them I have sold the business, their home-away-from-home.

In hindsight, I could not think of another way to let them know. We were tucked away in a comfortable restaurant dining lounge, everyone enjoying time away from the busy office.

Without notice, two strangers were in the room and I was tinkling my knife against my water glass, like a groomsman ready to toast the bride. My message was not up-lifting.

I felt the surprise, the feeling of betrayal ripple through the room, touching every one of my treasured employees — people who were my friends, like my sons and daughters.

Intellectually, they knew it was good for me. They could see the company had grown, was growing beyond what I could handle on my own. They knew my first right-hand man was getting ready to retire. My other right-hand had other aspirations within the company and they did not help my management responsibilities.

Emotionally, it was another story.

As I suppose is expected, over the next year, these valued talented people gradually found other opportunities. The company experienced the bumpy road of recruiting and training. And the unsettled nature of a business without its foundational people.

I later talked with one of the people affected and she quietly offered an oh-so-subtle change to my way of doing things.

“When you made the announcement, the new owners were in the room and had to hold themselves in check. If you would have announced to just our intimate group, they would have been able to express their shock, their grief, ask questions about how this applies to me?”

There may never be a next time, but there will be similar situations, I will remember to have more empathy — to pause and put myself in the position of the people whose lives are impacted by my decisions.

I will heed the Rule of 72.


Seeing a What-If world

Have you wondered what your life would be like if you lived with a What If philosophy?

Would you belt it out with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, windows wide open, or would you look back with more than a few regrets because you lived with an If Only philosophy?

I wonder:

  • What if I could build a world-class organization?
  • What if I could create a community where people build connections and share their strengths and uniqueness?
  • What if I could make a grilled cheese sandwich without burning one side?

As a first-year university student, one of the first articles I read was about positive expectancy.

It described me. For much of my life, I have awakened figuratively rubbing my hands in delight, wondering what the day would bring.

That feeling has ebbed and flowed over the years. Once it ebbed so slowly, I forgot that I had ever held those magical feelings.

My life felt flat, the colours grey, my breath shallow.

As a parent, I had wanted to create that feeling of delight in my sons. While tucking my little boys in at night, I would ask them two questions:

  • “What was the best thing about your day?”

The intention was to give them a sense of satisfaction about their day.

  • “What are you looking forward to tomorrow?”

This was to create a sense of positive expectancy.

One evening, as I tucked my older son in, and asked these questions, he got quiet and paused.

I was curious. He had spent the day with a friend’s son, double his age at 10.

“What was the favourite part of your day?” I prodded.

“Joey and I laid on the trampoline and looked at pictures in the clouds.”

My heart melted.

“What are you looking forward to tomorrow?”

“Joey said we could do it again.”

What if we could ask ourselves these questions?

What if, at the end of each day, we could remind ourselves of one lone thing we did that satisfied us? Brought us joy?

What if we could expect more joy, more satisfaction tomorrow?

And what if we could be bold and audacious? What if we ask ourselves “what if [insert secret desire, big hairy audacious goal, best vision ever here]?”

I got to wondering, can we What If our way through life? Or will it fade away to If Only?

The bedtime routine I shared with my sons reflected their innocence and willingness to explore the What If.


As I mentored my people, I would ask them to recall the times when they had accomplished what they thought impossible.

I discussed this the other day with my younger son, now 29. He recalled the moment he was finally able to tie his shoelaces.

It can be that simple.

In the course of my consulting practice, I have encountered people who, from all outward appearances, had a dream job. They had great compensation, personal and professional growth, benefits. Yet, they were bitter. “If only I had left the job sooner, I could have….”

Even saying the words If Only lowers our energy, elicits a sense of regret.

How can we push, maintain, and grow the What If innocence of youth and delay the onset of If Only that can accompany age?

We need to remind ourselves that more success and more good things are possible.

As leaders, we need to be the reminder or prompter of memories of the successes of our people.

Simon Sinek, British-American author reminds us:

“A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.”

What if by reminding them of their successes, not matter how small they may appear, we can help them move into their What If.

Our people may need to be reminded that if they can do something small well, such as tie their shoelaces, they can move to doing bigger things with increasing success.

Then we propel that energy. The memory of those endorphins surging through our body into what we are looking forward to, our big What If.

  • What if we could make that presentation with confidence?
  • What if I could figure out the ins and outs of this bookkeeping transaction so everything balances?
  • What if I could stay calm when I tell my client things are not going as planned?

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” Vincent Van Gogh observed.

  • What if we could do the seemingly impossible?
  • What if, in our unique way, we could fly?

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About the Author

As the former owner of Century 21 Assurance in Kelowna, Myrna uses her experience to build value in organizations.

Myrna’s passion as a leader is recognizing the strengths of her people and encouraging them to grow, even if it meant leaving her organization.

Her purpose is to reflect the greatness of others – in work, in play, in life.

Myrna has discovered that when organizations and individuals work with their strengths, amazing outcomes unfold.

Myrna is certified in behaviour and motivation analysis, emotional intelligence, as well as being a growth curve strategist and a certified value builder advisor.

The host of the soon-to-be-launched MLS Leadership Show, Myrna’s podcast will feature leaders in the real estate industry.

A wannabe athlete, Myrna has completed several half-marathons, deadlifted 215 pounds and has now put her mind to becoming proficient in muay Thai kickboxing. Contact Myrna at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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