Heroism, Spotlight

Today’s Hero Report

This is last minute, but I’ll be live on the air at the Hero Report with Ari Kohen and Matt Langdon. We’ll be podcasting today (Friday 7/27) at 3:00 CST.

The Adventure has started, and with it my personal quest to understand heroism and meet the gods. These guys thought it would be time to bring me back on the air and give an idea of how exactly that’s working out.

And you can ask us questions live on the air!

The Hero Report Weekly

If you can’t watch it live all episodes are archived on the front page of that site.

Adventure, Heroism, The Heroic Life

At the Edge of Something Greater

Sometimes, you have to want it.

I’ve never been a hero. Never. And I might spend a whole life adventuring and never reach that state. I don’t really care.

What matters to me is the power that heroism has over my own heart. If it wasn’t for the stories of great heroes I heard growing up, I wouldn’t be out here adventuring today.

And that’s the beauty: I may not be a hero, but I’m definitely an adventurer. The thrill of exploration is a song I hear on the wind.

Some smart people have told me that the ancient myths were not real value systems, because the average warrior can’t be Achilles. To me that’s missing the point. The myths are powerful proscriptions because the average warrior can love Achilles. They can yearn to be like him, and while only a few succeed, tens of thousands improve the world (and their happiness) by trying.

A heroic faith then has very little to do with becoming a hero, and everything to do with the inspiration that heroes give us. For me that inspiration is so powerful that it’s brought me to the edge of everything I love. I have given it all up to be here. I own a knife, a hatchet, and a pack full of tools: I surrendered everything.

And I never second guessed it, because for the first time in my life things felt right.

It can make you believe in fate, this feeling. What else can it be, when everything in your soul is yearning toward one end?

It’s a journeyman’s quest. It’s the love of my art that pulls me forward. I’m not even sure I can name what that art is, though to say writing would come close. I just know here is a tremendous spirit inside of me that’s waiting to be let out, a story that I’m supposed to tell. I don’t know what the story is yet, but it’s waiting to be told and I am the one to tell it.

There’s beauty in chasing your purpose. Like an illusionist, it has you cheering for something you don’t understand. But like a lover from the other world it has a plan for you and you’re eager to be complicit.

Life is precious, my friends. Minutes are expensive. Please, put them toward the things you truly love.

Adventure, Favorites, Heroism, Personal Development, The Great Adventure, The Heroic Life, Travel

Purpose: Find the Heroic Life

As June 21 draws near I confront my motivations for the journey ahead. This is the final installment of a three part series on why I’m going on the Adventure. Find Part I here and Part II here.

A Heroic Faith

What is there to say?

In my heart, I believe we can do great things.

I’ve created a practicum which, if followed, is supposed to race you toward that end:

Taking action, living for high ideals, charging fearlessly into new and grand plans, building a name around your art or skill, and using your life to change the way the world works.

The whole thing must be tested. I mean “tested” to see if it works; I also mean it the way a baby tests his legs. I will never understand the vehicle I’ve made unless I enter into it and live it for myself.

Neither will anyone else, unless they do too.

Why This Journey

The Heroic Life is a philosophy of action. It is not believed but done, not theory but experience. Its central practice is action: leave and go on a journey.

Many readers will look at my story, take a little piece of the philosophy, and fit it into their lives. I approve of that. I hope it helps your life, even if your life is not one of travel.

But for the heroic to be more than fiction, there must be people who believe in it so deeply, so humanly, that they live it. It is those people I wish to walk beside.

And if I don’t walk it myself, suggesting it is unconscionable.

The Value

If small knots of people join together to live this way, the world will be greater. A fellowship of heroes-to-be: let us leave home, walk where we will, learn what we can, and offer cheerful aid to troubled people.

If this one idea can catch on, the sky will look a little different.

When just a few people give everything to uplift others and carry no agenda, hope travels with them. Then more people take heroic action.

The next two, three, five years will teach me how to make this machine work. If there is a philosophy that can create and unite this kind of fellowship, I will discover it. And when I know how it works, then the real project of the Great Adventure will be complete: then I’ll have used travel to find my purpose, and be ready to help others do the same.

Wish me luck, Rogues, and if you want to lend your support, help a traveler sometime.

What’s the best way to learn about the heroic life as I travel? Do you have suggestions?

If you enjoy reading Rogue Priest, believe in my journey, or just love seeing a spirited adventurer on the road, please consider making a donation to the cause. Your gift will help fund professional-quality equipment for the Great Adventure. It’ll keep me safe and help every step of the way.

Heroism, Spotlight

We Need Heroes, Not Men

I was asked to write a piece for Good Men Project about how my spirituality informs my masculinity. I gladly accepted.

One minor issue: gender roles bad.

So what the heck came out of the blender, and why did they decide to run it? Check it out for yourself:

We Need Heroes, Not Men


Heroism, The Heroic Life

Creating Heroic Encounters

Is it possible to “create” a heroic encounter?

Variants on this question come up a lot. To me it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the Heroic Life philosophy. The answer is generally no, but more importantly the answer is you don’t need to and you shouldn’t want to.

You don’t need to because there are already so, so many moments in life when someone needs to stand up or speak out. And chances are you won’t take action in the moment. Most of us have more opportunities to be heroic than we ever respond to, so why try to create more?

You shouldn’t want to because that means questionable motivations. Acting heroically means taking unnecessary risk. If you seek to create more opportunities to do this, it implies self-destructive behavior. When I was 20 and took Chinese sword lessons, I’d always picture running into a mugger and defeating him with my wooden sword. But I never went out looking for muggers.

Heroism is emergent: a quality you can embody more and more with practice, but never quite reach. Pursuing it is more like pursuing enlightenment than going after a promotion.

As such, the project is not chasing chances to act a hero. The project is to develop the heart that’s ready to overcome fear. The easiest way to learn this is to go on a journey.

A journey will not give you a heroic encounter, but it may give you a heroic mindset.

Through May 3, 2012 I’m running a contest to give away a seat at the World Domination Summit. Enter now.

Heroism, Spotlight, The Heroic Life

Words from Zeno Franco

Yesterday Dr. Zeno Franco commented on my entry Who Calls Themselves a Hero?

This is one of those rare responses that’s based both on a history of our personal conversations, as well as a trained knowledge of the literature and data on heroism.

For anyone who wonders if they have what it takes to be heroic, it’s worth reading:

I have met and there are historical examples of plenty of people who were arrogant, overly self-assured, even narcissistic who went on to become heroes, perhaps precisely because that self assurance was what they need to push them to act in situations that required a heroic response where others did not. At the same time, there are meek, mild-mannered, shy people who would never claim to be trying to live a heroic life, but when pushed have the resolve that they need to respond heroically as well. The point that Dr. Philip Zimbardo and I have been trying to put across in a series of papers is that we doubt that there is a single personality type that defines heroism. Beyond that, saying one is or is not a hero, or saying you are trying to live based on heroic principles probably has very little to do with whether or not you are able to actually act heroically in a given situation. The only proof, as they say, is in the pudding—if you were called to act, did you?

…Part of my fundamental point to people is that there is a misunderstanding that heroism is something outside of normal, everyday life and experience. Most of us are called to act heroically quite frequently, but to see it, you have to attend to the fine details of life as you live it. When you see someone slighting someone else, do you just let it go? Or do you say something? Are you willing to risk an important friendship with a powerful person to point out that what they are doing is unethical? That is heroism that involves social sacrifice. Most of us will be in these types of situations frequently, perhaps even daily, but we are often so busy looking for the “big” act of heroism that we forget these simple versions. I think the risk for anyone who thinks about heroism much is to get caught up in a hero fantasy that is probably a lot more interesting than the heroic reality, which is often ethically complex, stressful, and lonely.

(Link added.)

Zeno also stated that, “My caution to you really had more to do with trying to ‘create’ a heroic encounter,” a caution that is well-taken.

The Heroic Life is, at its root, about living a life that echoes that of the heroes of myth: a life of travel and seeking out challenge. No one can ever guarantee they’ll have the chance to act heroically, but they can make a point of challenging themselves and testing their limits continuously.

That merits a post of its own but, for now, I think Zeno’s points deserve to be showcased. You can read his whole comment here.

Heroism, Spotlight

Soldiers and Heroes

Are soldiers heroes?

Before you give your opinion, I would strongly recommend checking out this nuanced, two-sided article from activist and scholar Ari Kohen.

On the State of the American Hero

Not every soldier meets my definition of a hero. But I have to admit there is bravery inherent in signing up during time of war. Bravery or, perhaps, an inkling of the hunger for adventure—one of the greatest practices for developing heroism.

So, are soldiers heroes?

Heroism, Spotlight, The Heroic Life

Rogue Priest on the Hero Report

Last week week I was interviewed about the Heroic Life and my plan for the Great Adventure. It isn’t the first time, but this one was particularly exciting for two reasons. First off it was my first ever podcast appearance with full video. So you can see my smiling face! And second, this interview was for The Hero Report, a weekly podcast specifically dedicated to discussing issues of heroism and how to act heroically in today’s world.

It was a lot of fun. The show is co-hosted by two men with pretty serious credentials. Ari Kohen is a professor of political science who specializes in human rights and restorative justice. His long-term research focuses on the role heroism plays in justice.

Matt Langdon is the founder and mentor behind the Hero Construction Company, a company that teaches children how to actually be heroes. That is too rad to describe.

So how do my hands-on, in the dirt, live action views of the Heroic Life collide with these two brilliant minds? Well, you’ll have to check it out to find out.

The Hero Report Episode 5

You can see past episodes of the Hero Report here. Please tweet or share this post and give these guys some love.