How Is A Hero Born, and Why is He Ours?

As an Emerging Man, can you look back on your life and determine who your heroes were?

Mine were… in chronological order… Davey Crockett; Elvis Presley; Bruce Lee, and John Wayne (and any other GOOD cowboy character)

I would imitate Roger Staubach, of the Dallas Cowboys, on the play ground, but I was much older when I learned about his life, how he carried himself, his service, and his family life… then I appreciated him as a “childhood hero of mine”. Even though when I was 10, I didn’t know why.


“late 14c., “man of superhuman strength or physical courage,” from Old French heroe (14c., Modern French héros), from Latin heros (plural heroes) “hero, demi-god, illustrious man,” from Greek hērōs (plural hērōes) “demi-god,” a variant singular of which was hērōe.

This is of uncertain origin; perhaps originally “defender, protector” and from PIE root *ser- (1) “to protect,” but Beekes writes that it is “Probably a Pre-Greek word.”

Meaning “man who exhibits great bravery” in any course of action is from 1660s in English. Sense of “chief male character in a play, story, etc.” first recorded 1690s.”

Online Merriam-Webster has 3 entries… we are talking about #1 and its subsets.

Definition of hero (parenthesis examples are my own)

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability (Hercules)

b : an illustrious warrior (Audie Murphy) (Hannibal Barca) (El Gran Capitan` – Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba)

c : a person admired for achievements and noble qualities (Jesus of Nazareth) (Albert Einstein) (Bart Starr)

d : one who shows great courage (most single moms) (kids with cancer) (19 year old Marines)

If you had a good relationship with your dad, or grandpa, when you were young… maybe they are your hero.

The topic of “How is a hero born?” came up during a conversation I had with my youngest son, who is in his early twenties.

His input… “Why did I cry when Kobe Bryant died?”

Me: Because he was your hero.

Then we tried to determine… “Why do we put people on a pedestal?” “What is it about a persons charisma that makes us admire them to the point where we lose who we are, and spend our time mimicking their characteristics… or cry when they pass away, even though we’ve never met them, or gotten to know them beyond their public persona?”

If you paint… maybe you look to Leonardo da Vinci; Pablo Picasso; or Paul Cezanne?

If you race cars… maybe you look to Dale Earnhardt (Sr. or Jr.); Mario Andretti; or even Greg Stelse running The Joker.

Baseball is loaded with players you could admire… The Babe; The Hammer; The Professor; BOOMSTICK!; Stan The Man; The Kid; The Ryan Express; Joltin’ Joe; Big Papi; The Iron Horse; The Ironman; or Yogi… take your pick!

For me, I think we admire, or place people on a pedestal… not so much because we think, “Gosh, I want to be just like him”, but because we think, “Gosh, I could never do that!”

You may try to ATTAIN to your hero’s status, you may even reach a point that you make your own mark in the particular arena your hero was famous for… but you know in your heart you can never be him.

When I watched Indy Car Racing in the late Eighties and early Nineties, Mario was my guy, he was “one of the old guys” by then. But everybody was stilled worried about him when he was running.

The best race I ever watched occurred on a road course, Mario was contending for second place, as Paul Tracey had a commanding lead.

The race was actually happening behind him, a battle for second, between my guy, Mario Andretti, and a Brit… “The Lion” one Mr. Nigel Mansell of Formula One fame.

I only had an elementary knowledge of Formula One, I never really followed it. I knew terms like… Ferrari, Honda, Michael Schumacher, and Monaco Grand Prix.

So when Mario and Nigel were going at it, I was like, “Who the heck is this guy?”

The way they were racing was… thrilling! I was glued to the tube!

Then the announcers started correlating Formula One, this Indy Car road course, and both drivers experience in racing… IN… Formula One.

It was razor close racing, the corners, the blocking, the wheel to wheel, the head to head driving was awesome!

I don’t even remember who came in second. I just remember “them racing.”

Part of my Emerging Man journey has me contemplating “being a small engine mechanic”, as a side hustle, and if I need to look to someone as a “hero” with a nickname, I can look back on three men that I was co-workers with.

No silver screen, Hollywood movie magic, made up characters…but real characters.

There was “Big Todd”, “Raymundo”, and “Mountain Dewey!” And that last one had a mane of hair that made him look like a lion, when the fan of a ’68 Cadillac was going full bore!

Part of my self image, negativity, centers around my habit of saying, “I can fix a car, but I’m not a mechanic.”

I realized, recently, I have to clean up my “mental image.”

I had to ask myself, “Why don’t you consider yourself a mechanic? You really looked up to, and appreciated those three guys, and you always reference them when talking about where you learned how to work on cars and lawn mowers?”

In essence, those three guys are heroes to me. I appreciate the fact that those guys were gear heads since they were little boys, “Been doing it my whole life!” All three told me that at one time or another.

In order to have a good mental image, that you can focus on, to move yourself forward, and to grow into… I am becoming convinced, that somehow… we need to SEE “the real thing”… for ourselves… ONE TIME, to help us create a clear, positive, self mental image.

I’ll probably not “attain to the three”, as far as overall mechanical knowledge, on everything from farm tractors; motorcycles; collector cars; classic Ferrari’s; semi trucks; hydraulic systems; and other heavy equipment… you get all that… in a life time of turning wrenches… BUT… if I focus my time and energy on small engines… I could get close to their level of skill on those items… I’m currently ruminating on a ten year plan for a part-time career in small engines.

And in all honesty, I have some skills that those guys didn’t, when it comes to researching, organizing, and creating efficient work flows… so I’m doing the research on what it would take to start on my NEXT 10,000 hour endeavor.

How is a hero born?

Why is he ours?

Who is your hero today?


How clear is your “mental self image” does HE… ENCOURAGE, EQUIP & ENGAGE you???

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