Being a HERO At Work

In recent weeks we have been presented with numbing news –

Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico (as well as other island nations in the Caribbean) were ravaged by hurricanes; an earthquake hit Mexico City; wild fires rage in northern California – and Las Vegas was under a massacre attack.

Stressed. Overwhelmed. Confused. Angry. Heart-broken. These words are part of a national litany. BUT they don’t fully capture the feelings that crowd in on us BECAUSE

After each catastrophe images have abounded and stories have been told of –



Unexpected help


Each of which and all of which is as real as the catastrophes’ aftermaths AND even more powerful in ways that surprise and comfort.

And yet, the reality is that in the midst of all this extraordinariness we have our own ordinary routines to live out – jobs and personal lives – with all their pleasures and satisfactions and with all their stressors and uncertainties.

No one of my clients is dealing with the particular stresses of the destruction we’ve been witnessing BUT many of my clients are dealing with stress – work stress that is real.

Stress that is impacting the quality of their spirit and life.

When you listen to the survivors of the Vegas massacre, as well as disaster relief responders, you hear people plainly state, “I couldn’t leave him alone” or “I had to help – it was nothing” or “I wish I could have done more for her.”

We are riveted listening to ordinary people tell of how they got caught-up in extraordinary circumstances. And for virtually all of these folks, the heroic work they did was just the work they knew they had to do in order to be who they knew themselves to be.

Last week, as I was listening to one of these interviews, a thought popped into my head. I share it with some reluctance, as I don’t want you to think I’m being glib or gimmicky.

My thought is this –

In the midst of so much emotional pain at work could we not challenge ourselves to do the unthinkable?

What is the unthinkable?

To be a hero to someone at work who is in need.


What would it look like to be a hero in the office?

On the last night of my summer class at UCLA Extension I asked the participants to reflect on someone they personally know who is “powerful.”

In the group sharing we heard stories of colleagues, managers, supervisors and business owners who displayed power in various ways. Women and men who know:

  • How to say a respectfully assertive ‘no’
  • When to speak and when to be quiet
  • What it means to respect both their strengths and weaknesses
  • There is no upside to giving in to drama
  • How to reassure a person by ‘normalizing’ a mistake
  • Connection is their primary duty
  • How to trust your ability
  • To back you up and make you feel like an equal
  • How to make “it” better
  • They are not superior to you
  • What Generosity looks and sounds and feels like


A hero has:

Moral power –

Mental power –

Decision power –

Physical power –

And whatever the combination, a hero distinguishes themselves by generously exercising that power.


There’s a reason why Marvel movies make a ton of money.

There’s a reason why in the seemingly overwhelming heartaches of the recent weeks that we have been deeply affected by the sudden appearance of so many “ordinary” heroes.

They give us HOPE.


And there is also a reason why my Extension students remembered the women and men they did.

In a world gone mad, those ordinary workers, within their spheres of influence, were generous in their powers.

They made life less anxious and more respectful, they created less anonymous drudgery and more appreciated collaboration.


When it’s so easy to turn the workplace into a soul-numbing, psychic-draining pit, they acted as heroes.

They were GENEROUS.


And that’s why my Extensions students remember them with gratitude and are determined to emulate them.

During these days of “breaking news” I invite you to consider ~

How can you be a hero?

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