I just did what anyone else would have done.
That’s what you hear when you interview a hero after they’ve just done something that nobody else did. An ordinary person comes upon an extraordinary situation and performs extraordinarily. Their response is to focus on their ordinariness. (I promise I won’t use the words ordinary or extraordinary again in this post)
- Man lands a plane in the Hudson River – something no-one has ever done. “Just doing my job”.
- Man lies under an oncoming subway train to protect a fallen victim. “I said to myself, ‘fool, you’ve got to go in there and help’”
- Woman saves 2,500 kids from the Nazis by stealing them away daily. “I am haunted every day that I didn’t do more.”
Humility is one of the cornerstones of the hero. If someone declares themself a hero, you can rest assured that they’re not.
What if they say they’re training to be a hero? Is there a humility problem there? It’s something that’s been brought up to me and I wondered about it.
I didn’t wonder long, though. We heroes-in-training are not showing off. We’re preparing for a time where we might need to step out from the crowd. We’re training to change the world – to be ready to make the right choice when it’s presented to us.
I often compare hero training to first aid and CPR training – you might never need it, but you’ll be glad you took the time if a situation ever calls for it. No-one would call a CPR-certified person a showoff. It’s what happens after the event that shows humility. Or not. Bring someone back to life and do a victory lap for the press – that’s lacking humility. Same thing goes for someone who performs a heroic act.