How important is it to have heroes?

In a recent post Seth Godin compared the efforts needed to learn a new thing with the joy one gets from doing it.

Graph 1: Over time, as we discover new things and get better at it, our satisfaction increases. At some point, there’s a bump when we get quite good at it, and then, in most activities, it fades because we get bored. (Ignore the last peak, that’s the joy of being an expert)

Graph 2: Over time, the trouble to do something decreases

Graph 3: The two graphs overlaid. That zone on the left, the red zone, is the gap between the initial hassle and the initial joy. My contention is that the only reason we ever get through that gap is that someone on the other side (the little green dot) is rooting us on, or telling us stories of how great it is on the other side.

It’s a good thought and probably very true. And assuming that is the truth what strikes to me as the most important lesson from the post is this: The bigger your red zone, the louder your green dot needs to be.

Let me repeat that.

The bigger your red zone, the louder your green dot needs to be.

That right there is why we need to have heroes. Those green dots are our heroes, they help us get through the red zone. If our heroes are people we know then we hopefully they will realise that they have to ‘get louder’. If not, then we can use our own voice to make the green dot louder by using the self-manipulation toolbox.

But what happens when we don’t have heroes for a particular situation? As we go ahead in life, we specialise. We use the inspiration that we have gained from our heroes to achieve new things. In the process, we go through unique experiences and we become unique individuals. Individuals with our own very unique problems. It can get very hard to share those problems, let alone find a hero who has been through the same problems and emerged successful. What then? What if we don’t have a ‘green dot’?

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