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What does a hero look like?

To some a hero is marked by a cape and a mask. To others it is the person who swoops in to save the day. Heroes are often identified by catchy names and deeds of heroism. To me a hero is one who listens, is kind, and takes the time to connect with others I have never been much of a celebrity follower. I have always felt like a tangible, on-the-ground, in-real-life hero was far more meaningful than someone who played a hero on TV. Because of this, I have a couple of people in my life who really stand out as heros.

So today I want to share some of the lessons I learned from one of MY heros.

A true hero to me is one who has an exceptional ability to listen and understand people. Joanne was no exception to this. She quickly understood so many of my challenges. When I first met Joanne, I was pretty reserved and didn’t share many personal things about myself. During one of our first conversations, I was talking briefly about a challenging experience, and she saw right through the way I minimized the situation and truly understood what I was going through. She was able to do this in so many ways for so many different people.

Another mark of a hero is kindness. A hero knows how to reach people and find even small ways to make everyone's life a little better. Joanne did my dishes… almost every time she came over. She stopped by regularly when my kids were little and there were usually at least a few things in the sink all the time then. Even when I tried to get her to just sit and visit, she always responded that she could talk and wash. Joanne was always doing kind things for others, but I will always remember her when I wash my dishes for all the times she offered to help just because she wanted to show kindness to me and my family.

A hero sees a person and takes an interest in the things that matter to him or her. Joanne loved to read stories to my kids, to bring them gifts, and to even take them on outings occasionally. She took the time to understand the shows my kids liked and the books they wanted to read as well as sharing herself with them. She always listened to them talk about anything they were excited about. It didn’t matter who you were, Joanne wanted to know who you were and what things you were interested in.

I could probably talk all day about the things that Joanne did for me and the way she taught me and supported me, but the thing I want to teach today is that we all have the capacity to become a hero like Joanne. We can all learn to be better listeners, we can all find small ways to serve other people, and we can all take an interest in the interests of others in an effort to build a connection. So this week I challenge both you and me to be a hero like Joanne. Reach out to someone and show some kindness. It may not be as dramatic as a cape and mask, but it will be rewarding and meaningful.

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