On becoming small heroes

Everyone matters – some, a little and some, a lot more.

At one end of the spectrum, there are free riders who are really consume rather than contribute. On the other end of the spectrum, you have big heroes who contribute a lot.

Free riders matter a little to a lot of people. They usually take more than they give. They are consumers of others’ contributions.

Good samaritans are helpful people.They provide good help but their capacity to help is limited so their impact will be limited. There are a lot of good samaritans everywhere and they make life special for someone every single day.

Small heroes provide a lot of help to a limited number of people. They may be local heroes or someone who make a big impact in a small niche. Small heroes might also be those who make a lasting impact to people in their own circles. Great mentors fall into this category.

Big heroes provide a lot of help to a lot of people. Their work is inspires a lot of people.

Big heroes touch a lot of people. But, all the people who are touched by their work and message won’t act to make a lasting impact on their own lives. Big heroes by their nature can only take people so far as they rarely have time to interact 1-1 with a lot of people. So, by nature their message has to be generic and the receiver of the message needs to translate that message to their own situation. Not everyone succeeds in effectively translating that message.

If you are a free rider (I am confident that you are not) then there is a lot of work to do. It takes a little effort to to move to become a good samaritan and I am guessing that you are already playing that role in your life. If you are super ambitious, you may have aspirations to become a big hero to make a big impact. However, along the way, you need to become a small hero and make a big impact to a few people.

While only a few people can become big heroes, there is room for a lot of small heroes. This world would be a far better place if we have more small heroes.

Becoming a small hero in simple terms would be to matter a lot to a few people. You can start becoming one by increasing your positive impact with the people around you. You can start by simply increasing your level of care to those people.

A cop out strategy would be to simply say that you “care a lot” and you are “already making a big impact” to people around you. Here is a quick approach to really see how much you matter in the lives of those you care. Think of these questions as a way of “checking your progress” on your way to becoming a small hero.

1. What have they become (or becoming) because you are in their life?

Not that I didn’t say what did they “get” because you are in their life. Becoming someone better trumps getting something more.

2. How enriching is their life because you are part of it?

You can download a quick one pager on enrichment (PDF) to learn more.

3. How big of a void will you leave in their life if you suddenly disappear today?

Note that I am not suggesting you become a crutch in their lives – in fact, exactly the opposite.

4. What is the quality of help requests they make of you?

People make requests for help on things that matter most to them if they trust you to provide the kind of help they need. If the help you offer really moves the needle in their life, then you are making a big enough impact.

Bonus question: The litmus test (from the enrichment pdf)

5. How many of these people miss you in their past?

If you are truly enriching someone’s life, they will typically miss you in their past. They think their lives would have been even better if they had met you earlier.

Remember that the world needs a LOT of small heroes. Good luck on your journey to becoming a small (or big) hero.

Note: Thanks to Ming, one of my all-time favorite artists.