Is There More to Being a Hero Than Winning the Rat Race at Work?

What is a hero? We all have people we look up to everyday whether it’s parents, siblings, or friends. But what about in the workplace? In the corporate world, we often think that heroes are the chosen few who have hopped on that ladder of success and clawed their way to the top.

But is that really what a hero is?

Paolo Gallo, chief human resources officer at World Economic Forum, says it sure ain’t! In his recent article, Gallo strikes gold when he argues there is much more to being a hero than simply getting ahead. “To become a hero is not a magic process reserved for the few, but something that is open to all of us if we strive to make the best of our circumstances.” In Gallo’s estimation, the real hero is the average Joe doing hard work their whole life, and doing it faithfully.

Gallo has an excellent point. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with having a prestigious position at the office (as long as it’s done honestly) but the simple truth is that in order for this world to function, we need people working all kinds of jobs—well. We need teachers, plumbers, electricians, welders, and salesmen laboring happily and heartily, even if they would rather be doing something else.

Because another important quality of the true hero is sacrifice. Many talented folks have had to put their dreams and passions on hold because of circumstances: Their spouse died, they have a family that depends on them, or they chose to maintain their integrity over getting ahead. You tell me: Are they not heroes simply because they’re not at the tippy top? Instead of blindly trying to improve their position, they asked themselves, What really matters? And they clearly discovered what does.

So if you’re holding a prestigious position, great! But warning: If you’re on a power trip and all that matters to you is moving up, you will lose sight of the people around you, and people are what matter most. Trampling others is also unrewarding on a personal level. Chasing success for its own sake is empty. Gallo calls this being a rat in a rat race: “We became so self-absorbed and busy trying to win this race that we forget that even by winning it, we will still remain rats.”

No matter where your life’s adventure takes you, remember: Be a hero! Love, work hard, and keep your eye on what’s important. Your position doesn’t make you a hero; it’s how you got there. If you got there by making sacrifices and looking out for others, then you’re the kind of hero this world needs. And this is just as true for the museum night watchman as it is for the millionaire CEO.

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