Your Heroes Hold Clues to Your Inner Voice

Filed in The Writing Life by on March 25, 2011 • views: 682

Read with magnifying glassSometimes the inner voice makes itself heard very clearly.

People that instinctively know from an early age what they are destined to do—like Mozart, for instance—have no trouble hearing what it has to say and following its direction.

Most of us, though, spend so much time tending to the everyday responsibilities of life that we can sometimes lose touch with our passions. If you’re in this predicament and you’re feeling like you want to go a different direction, but you’re not sure what that is, take a look at your heroes.

Look at Your Heroes for Clues Into Yourself

Who do you admire? Who do you obsess over? Who are you constantly talking about?

I’ve had a myriad of heroes over the course of my life, and I think each one reflected something I wanted to be at the time. What’s interesting as I look back is that most of them were artistic—something it would take years for me to realize fully in myself.

One of the first ones I can remember, for example, was my fourth-grade music teacher, a handsome man who dressed in a shirt and tie, had a beautiful baritone voice, played the piano, and always moved about as if he had oodles of energy. I remember feeling deeply honored when he selected me along with a few other students to sing in a small group for an upcoming performance. Disappointing him was unthinkable, and I practiced our songs for weeks before the big event.

Later, my heroes changed to more famous musicians and actors, and always when I dug into their background information I found things like music, creativity, writing, and even running and horseback riding.

It still surprises me when I feel drawn to a certain artist that I find many similarities in our natures. Always, however, they represent a more advanced accomplishment in their chosen careers, giving me something to reach for.

What Do You Admire in Others?

“That which you admire in others,” writes life coach Christy Whitman, “you recognize as existing within yourself. When you notice wonderful qualities in another person, it is because you too have those qualities.”

This is a tough concept to really grasp. Most of us can’t believe that the greatness we admire in our heroes might be present inside ourselves. Certainly we could never be as amazing as that!

Sometimes it’s true—maybe we aren’t as accomplished as these people we admire. But we have the potential to be. Our heroes represent the very best of what we could become.

Here’s an exercise to try: first, make a list of the people you’ve really admired throughout your life. Start with ten people. (You can add more later if you want to.) The list may include family members, politicians, athletes, actors, teachers, musicians, community or church members, work colleagues, scientists, inventors, business owners, even fictional characters. Anyone.

Next, go through that list and write down the one or two traits you most admire about each person. These could include things like intelligence, kindness, creativity, talent, confidence, loyalty, sense of humor, positive attitude, organizational skills, patience, calmness, and more. If certain traits show up in more than one person, make a note of it by placing extra marks next to that trait.

We See Our Own Strengths in Others

Now take a look at your list of traits. Can you see that these are present in you as well? Do you sense these traits as strengths that you have? (By the way, you can do the same with negative traits—those that bother you in other people are most likely prominent in your own personality.)

One nice thing about following the inner voice is that it usually leads us in the direction of our strengths. Our heroes, as well, reflect those things that we’re good at. Someone with an instinctive understanding of movement and forces will usually admire others that exhibit the same ability, like pilots and race car drivers.

Budding artists will admire accomplished artists. Great moms will admire other great moms. Think about the traits you want to develop in yourself, and let your heroes lead you where you want to go!

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