Question from the end of Chapter 9 in True North:” Do you see yourself as the hero of your own journey?”
Growing up as boy and even now, I have fantasized about being some of the great heroes of movies, video games, TV shows, and books that I have seen, played, or read about. I’ve always thought about even being a part of a particular world’s dynamic and how different life could be in an action packed situation complete with the familiar tropes of characters. Immediate ones that come to mind are Luke Skywalker (Star Wars), Jon Snow (Game of Thrones), Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid), and even female protagonists like Ellen Ripley (Alien) or Lara Croft (Tomb Raider).
What I have come to discover as a teacher and aspiring educational leader is that the heroes of those stories have such a profound impact on their followers and those around them because of their actions and the decisions they make. What would have happened to everyone if Luke never destroyed the Death Star in the original Star Wars, or never redeemed his father Darth Vader from evil in the end of Return of the Jedi? More realistically, what would your life as a teacher be like if you did not pour your heart and soul into teaching or coaching when your student followers view you as their hero? Our students and those we lead would many times be lost without our guidance and dedication.
Take Jon Snow for example in the video below. He constantly sacrifices everything he has for a greater cause, even his life (but is thankfully resurrected for viewer’s sake and sanity…SPOILER ALERT). Observe Jon as he fights through a montage of battles and conflicts. What would happen if he wasn’t there? (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT).
Rough life Jon leads, huh?
As a hero, Jon symbolizes so much to viewers and his followers. Stories we hear of our heroes or even the experiences we have with our own personal real-life heroes can create a great change in our own identities and sense of self. Scott Allison and George Goethals both of University of Richmond have stated, “Hero narratives, we argue, are highly effective delivery systems for imparting complex truths for elevating humans toward a higher emotional and behavioral state. Stirring narrative accounts of heroic deeds are fuel for both human survival and for human thriving.”
Heroic leaders can have substantial positive impacts on their followers with their charisma and other characteristics. Allison and Goethals both state that charisma is a central trait and that the charisma of heroic leaders create responses of awe and reverence within their followers. Despite all of the positive influences there can be, these heroic stories can be twisted to serve psychological needs and goals of leaders and followers. Allison and Goethals use Adolf Hitler as a primary example of twisting the hero logic.
When viewing yourself as a hero, there are many things that can be considered heroic to others. This can simply be meeting a deadline for a project on time, training to complete a race, or simply making it through a busy week of work without letting it get the best of you. Think about the ways your followers or students perceive your leadership. Does it inspire them? Can you motivate them to do something they never thought was possible? Are they happy to have you as their leader? Will they support you when you need it most? When I think about it this way, I still aspire to become a hero like Jon Snow, or anyone that has had such a substantial impact on me.
With your charisma, how do you rise up as a hero to others as a situational leader? How do you become a transformative leader like the ones you know best?
The journey continues…
Allison, S. T., & Goethals, G. R. (2016). Hero Worship: The Elevation of the Human Spirit Selected Works of Scott T. Allison, 1-24.