Are heroes born or made? Find your own super values!

From a very young age we tend to dream about becoming supermodels, super (sport) stars and yes, even superheroes. We like to believe that we are special in our own way (just like mummy said) and therefore we are destined to achieve great things during our life. However, finding such a “winning” area in our life can be challenging, especially since due to globalisation we are competing with not only our direct neighbours but the whole planet for those perhaps two or three rare moments when suddenly it is time to step up and prove to be outstanding. Of course, it must be mentioned that these few occasions usually do not arise by coincidence; those “lucky” heroes – let it be the already mentioned athletes, models, or firefighters – have been preparing for nearly their whole life to be there “at the right place at the right time”. We may ask: is it possible for an average human to become one of them? Are heroes born or made? Of course, it would be nice if we could all be superhumans, but life is usually not so simple. What can we still do, then?


Superheroes born or made?

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Can anyone become a hero?

What makes a hero heroic? Is someone who flies around in red cape and blue tights, fighting criminals a hero? Or can we count as heroes all the normal people who just help wherever they can? The heroes of our daydreams vary; often as we grow, the idea of heroes develops and becomes more sophisticated as does what it means to be a hero. Your role model at the age of 5 most probably will not be still your hero at the age of 10, 30 and 50 (except maybe your parents) …


 “All of us start from zero. We take the right decision and become a hero.”



To tell the truth, we are all born with the potential to be heroic; with some extent of an urge to become part of something greater. The difference lies in how it is actualised: either we do it individually or together as a team – be it guided by our own, selfish goals or not – and there is some internal motivation toward heroism in all of us. Most of us are not destined to become heroes, but most people still like to entertain the idea that that they would be heroic if the situation called for it. In practice, though, heroism rarely happens without dedicated, proper preparation (Kohen, 2013).


This potential must be nurtured and trained specifically. Otherwise, it remains latent in us with the resources remaining untapped. Although some people may seem to have an instinct to lead (work champions / heroes?), in the long run talent can easily fade if proper care is not taken of it by studying, preparing, or practising. Meanwhile, someone not so obviously talented can close the gap with hard work. Even the best, most talented performers in their own discipline spend long hours practising to be able to stay on the top. This is the reason why heroes are not only born, but also made. The hero of a given moment will likely have trained their body and mind to be able to call upon that heroic instinct (and skillset) even without thinking in the heat of the moment. This also explains why not everybody turns out to be a hero; heroes need a high amount of courage and strength to persist with a journey full of difficult situations and challenges. Although natural talents and abilities can surely help in times of trial, such gifts are not necessarily the hallmark of “heroes”.


“Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.”

Bob Riley


Keczer et al. (2016) suggest that there might be a particular mindset and skillset which helps us to behave correctly (confidently and morally) even in difficult situations by acting immediately and unconsciously when it is really called for. Sometimes in life you can just feel instinctively that something is right, and you follow that intuition with total dedication because you know it is the right thing to do (Bronk & Riches, 2017).

Why is it vital to know our strengths and weaknesses?

The overlapping triangles of one’s self-concept

The overlapping triangles of one’s self-concept

Source: Own design

As we can see also from the figure above the more the 3 triangles are coming closer into overlapping each other – the more we are fully aware of our own values – the bigger will be the intersection, the ideal-self. In other words, knowing one’s strengths and our weaknesses gives you a better understanding of yourself and how to reach your maximum.  Strengths and weaknesses are part of being self-aware. When you know these values, you can create a plan that focuses on bringing the best out of yourself, your ideal self. Being familiar with your strengths means you know what activities to engage in that will allow you to shine (and which not worth the time or energy). For example, based on things you know you are good at you can narrow down to a specific job your career search. Knowing your weaknesses also gives you a clear understanding of the things that may be holding you back. An idea about your weaknesses also enables you to understand how you can work around them. Then, with effort (and courage?) you can work on these things so that these blind spots will not hold you back any more. 

So, what key values should we focus on that might just lead to great future achievements?


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Griszbacher Norbert

Article Writer & Content Contributor

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The opinions expressed in this article/publication are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of GiLE or its members.

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