A hero is an ordinary person

Hero's journey (3): Imagine that you are a hero and you do not notice it.

“No matter what a person does, he is always at the center of world history, but mostly he doesn't know,” says Paulo Coelho's “Alchemist”. Many do not even realize that they are at the center of their own world and the heroes of their story. Nevertheless, everyone wants to be a hero, somehow, somewhere, at some point, and everyone is talking about it: hero stories, hero's journey, hero tokens, hero everything ... But - what is that, a hero?


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When the word hero is mentioned, images immediately emerge in our heads: heroic figures with extraordinary abilities, unearthly powers and an indomitable will. Significance and admiration are sure to have a place in history anyway. Geniuses also pass for heroes, because according to André Heller, the real adventures are in the head.

Heroes are so very different from us, but the way we would like to be ... invincible ... at least faster, better, smarter than now ... and braver too.
Yes, braver!
Whereby: If you have superpowers, it's easy to be brave, right?

Superheroes from the DC and Marvel universes populate the screens of our cinemas more densely than ever before. Yes, we love superheroes, even if they are dressed strangely all too often. But what the heck - if you save the world with one hand while you knit a sweater out of steel wool with the other hand, you just need functional clothes and nobody can have everything. Not even in Gotham City.
They are heroes.
Mistake!

If we talk about heroes in the context of story, then we urgently need to say goodbye to the image of the superhero. This picture may be appropriate at times, but as a rule, hero means someone completely different. Namely you, for example.

Hero Tokens are not Heroes.

Even when we talk about brands as heroes, the gorge of misunderstanding opens up to such an extent that even Spiderman would only come across with a run-up. Of course, everyone who has a brand dreams of the usual suspicious mega role models that outshine everything, such as Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola and Red Bull as adorable superstars whose logo customers proudly stick on their cars. Everyone who owns a brand dreams that it also has this magical attraction. As a rule, it is overlooked: that in a skillfully lived story of a hero brand, the brand is not the hero at all.

Like right now?
What is that supposed to mean again?

Yes, a hero brand is not the hero of its own story.

Strictly speaking, a brand usually has two stories, and in one it is the hero, but that is usually not the story that the customers mean.
Hm ...

Who should still be familiar with that, please?

And then there are the everyday heroes that we learn about from the news. They too have something superhero-unearthly about them.

The scientist who makes a sensational discovery; the firefighter risking his life while rescuing people from the burning house; the sportswoman who - although injured - sets a new record; the piano virtuoso child prodigy next door, grandma is already running another marathon ...

All of these accomplishments are admirable and may or may not be heroics.

Well, what is it that makes heroes?

The Austrian answer to this question: it depends. The real answer isn't much more complex. It reads: depends on the opponent.
So one after the other ...
Everything revolves around the heroes. When you talk about the heroine of a story, you mean the main character, around whom everything revolves. Our identification figure, with whom we connect empathically and therefore ask ourselves the question: What would I do and how would I decide if I were in your situation and if you were in a bind?

That has nothing to do with heroism in the narrower as well as in the broader sense, whether understood correctly or incorrectly. We just use the same word for different things: heroine as main character and heroine as super being.

So, now: what really makes a hero?

In essence, one can say: The hero of a story is an ordinary person who wants to achieve something extraordinary - although everything speaks against him or her -, grows with it and therefore acts as a role model in his environment. The main character lived through something, learned from it, and we with her.

If story always tells about a transformation, then the heroine of a story is naturally different at the end than she was at the beginning.

At the beginning Cinderella sits in the kitchen, at the beginning sorts lentils from the ashes and ends up being a princess. You can call that transformation, I think. In the meantime she has learned, and we have learned with her: “Whatever injustice happens to you - you are a special person who is worth loving. Even from a prince! You have to show yourself for it and before that. "

This story is also available for boys. In this story, Cinderella goes by the name Rocky Balboa and in the end is not a princess, but a king - in the heart of Adrian. He too had to show himself, not on the ball, like Cinderella, but in the boxing ring. But then both had blue eyes, he was more like the outside ...

We love anti-heroes.

Both are so-called anti-heroes, the polar opposite of heroic and invincible. With anti-heroes it is particularly easy for us as an audience to build empathy, because they primarily and obviously define themselves through a weakness that we can empathize very well.

The heroic figures and superheroes are first of all defined by their superpower, which most of us simply did not inherit in the cradle. On the contrary. My mom put a steak in my cradle so that at least the dog could play with me.

So that we as viewers can still build empathy for the superhero figure, two essential requirements must be met.
Firstly, they need an oversized, significant task that must be solved for the benefit of all of us, otherwise it will be dark on earth, and secondly, in all their superheroism, they need a weakness that we can empathize with.

Think, for example, of Peter Parker vulgo Spiderman and his guilty conscience about the murder of his uncle, for which he feels guilty, and his lovesickness because of Gwen ...

Superheroes need opponents, overpowering opponents - for their external conflict and for their internal weakness. They have that in common with all other heroes. Without an opponent there is no conflict, without a conflict there is no story.

For grandma it's the marathon, for her grandchildren at the piano it's “A Little Night Music” (G major, KV 525) - and for Cinderella and Rocky?

Who is Cinderella and Rocky's opponent? At first glance it is clear to everyone: They are stepmother & stepsisters or Apollo Creed.
Mistake.

In both cases, it is the broken self-esteem that makes the heroes of the stories feel like they are not lovable. This opponent is defeated - although everything speaks against them - and in the end the characters are transformed. Outside and especially inside. The external opponents only embody the internal conflict, but they are not the real opponents. Some opponents offer themselves, some have to be discovered and carefully selected so that they can do for us what they are supposed to do: namely, help us grow. There are also some special thoughts here.

The real adventures are in our heads, the real opponents in us.

The story of self-worth is one that most of us know in some form, not just those with the steak in the cradle. That is why this myth of someone who sets out to discover his self-worth and to accept it will appear again and again in the most varied of variants and the heroine of this story will live forever in the most varied of shapes. This story connects mankind across generations and cultures, we tell these stories to each other because they are about ourselves, and we share the knowledge with one another: You are worth loving - show yourself so that you can be seen.

Everyone is different, in some ways we are all the same, apart from Dieter Bohlen and Kim Kardashian.

Real heroes are really brave.

Do you know that? When you jump over your shadow Dare to do something, ward off your weaker self, do it anyway - in spite of everyone and everything, because you feel in yourself: That's right, that's necessary, I have to do that? Even if I'm afraid, yes, and of course I can't know how it will turn out!

This is real heroism. To look your greatest opponent in the eye, exactly where he is sitting, precisely where the strength to defeat him is also: in yourself. That is true courage. Or, to speak to John Wayne, who should finally know: "Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway."

Most people don't know their story and don't follow their call.
They don't show up.
They sit in the ashes and sort the lentils.
They stroll lonely through the streets of Philadelphia and occasionally beat frozen pork halves, for training purposes and a little out of frustration, presumably.
That's it then.
And somewhere in the meantime, a lonely prince is perishing in his castle and a wonderful young woman who works in a pet shop because Cinderella and Rocky are of the mistaken opinion that they are not lovable.
A mistake, four unhappy people. Whom does it help, please?

Heroes hear their call and accept it.

Good stories teach us very principally in a way that good teachers do. They don't teach, they transform us and give us orientation. That is why we humans have our mythological stories: they serve as lighthouses by the sea of ​​life so that we can set off and find our destiny. For some it is to be a princess, for others it means founding a bowling club, for some it means getting people out of burning houses, for others it means getting absorbed in playing the piano. For everyone it means - André Heller would say: learning to transform yourself into a successful person.
There is nothing more to say about this, and who am I to add something to André Heller's words?

Well, maybe something else: What about brands and companies?

The two stories of each brand.

Brands have two stories: the first, which is about the company and tells about its transformation - about the founding dream, the huge hurdles on the way up, the glorious exploits that were accomplished to overcome them, and the devastating defeats and growth about the knowledge and the inexorable commitment to the task in the world.

In this story, the brand itself is the hero, and in some cases the story is so revealing that it even becomes part of the corporate myth that radiates outward, often nurtured by charismatic entrepreneurs. Apple is probably the prime example, unique and thus at the same time absolutely atypical; nevertheless instructive.

The second story is the one that brings the brand's magnetism to life. She doesn't talk about the company or the brand, but does what John Steinbeck does with Don Draper's nosebleed like a warning sign on the office wall of Sterling, Cooper wrote: “If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. And here I make a rule - a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last. ”That is why the story of your brand, your company can never tell about you and your company. It always has to be about the audience, otherwise you'll have at least one foot in the puddle of advertising.

Because it is not the brand that is changed, but its audience.

At the beginning you are tired because you are quite fat and limp, at the end you run a few meters, and at some point the marathon, because you have the perfect mentor who will help you to hear the call of your liberated, fit life, to accept and to accept consequences. The call is: “Just do it”, and the mentor at your side is called Nike.

In the beginning you are a functioning wheel in the system, whose creativity is used at best, but cannot develop because it is mastered, trimmed and made conform. In the end, you use your full potential, go new ways, don't just think “outside the box”, but much more: different. Just the way you are: different from the rest of the world, individual, special - in a row with the other crazy people like Jim Henson, Salvador Dalí and Maria Callas. At your side is a mentor who will show you where Excalibur is and that you will accept the call by finally pulling the sword out of the damn stone. In the specific case: the connector of yours Mac plug into the damn socket.

Brand story is brand purpose.

Sometimes Merlin is called Obi-Wan Kenobi, sometimes he wears itNike. He checks his mail on iPhone, and because even the wise are not free from sin, he uses it to post his selfie from breakfast Instagram.

One thing is certain: the common concern of the mentor and the hero of the story: the common longing. In the case of a brand, this is often called purpose.

Some companies were even founded out of this, I call them mentor brands. For me, Patagonia is a particularly well groomed horse in the growing Purpose Brand herd. These are brands that go further than what is taken for granted by corporate social responsibility. They don't say "The world is good although there is us ", but" The world is getting better, because there is us ”.

These brands have a story that can inspire people - internally and externally - and initiate their transformation.

So you don't have to imagine the hero's journey like a cycle, but like an arabesque-like intertwining of countless infinite signs with the endeavor to arrange themselves in the ornamentation of the Flower of Life. Not only does it sound complex, it is.

Every person, but also every company - regardless of whether it is a global corporation or an SME (small and medium-sized company) - every organization is on a journey, triggered by a necessity, the fulfillment of which leads to the meaning of the matter. It is their motivation towards their own truth, where their own ego has grown.

Everyone needs meaning for their own truth, a mission, a purpose, i.e. at least one archaic value and the story activated by it, around which everything revolves. This is how you win like-minded comrades-in-arms; this is how you become the heroine of your own story.

So to everyone who says: “That doesn't apply to me or my brand!”, I would like to recommend those words that my grandmother, the old story dudette, Clark Kent embroidered next to the label with the washing instructions for his cape: “No story . No Glory. "