Heroes and Heroines Among Your Friends

One of the values that shape your life

By Arlene Harder, MA, MFT and John Fabian, Ph.D.


"“My own heroes are the dreamers, those men and women who tried to make the world a better place than when they found it, whether in small ways or great ones. Some succeeded, some failed, most had mixed results... but it is the effort that’s heroic, as I see it. Win or lose, I admire those who fight the good fight.””
— George R.R. Martin

“Unconsciously we all have a standard by which we measure other men, and if we examine closely we find that this standard is a very simple one, and it s this: we admire them, we envy them, for great qualities we ourselves lack. Hero worship consists in just that. Our heroes are men who do things which we recognize, with regret, and sometimes with a secret shame, that we cannot do. We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be like somebody else. If everybody was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes.”
— Mark Twain

We all admire courage, outstanding achievement and noble qualities—whether it is a firefighter who enters a burning building to save a child, or a pilot who ditches his plane in a river to avoid apartments just yards away, or a girl in Pakistan who stands up to the Taliban.

We declare them heroes and heroines.

However, there are others who are recognized as heroes and heroines by only a few. You know them as friends, co-workers, and relatives who have acted in ways you would like to act, if only you had their courage.

The questions below focus on those people. What makes them heroes and heroines in your eyes? How might you express the qualities they have?

Incidentally, you will likely notice that the heroes and heroines among your friends are not because of their good looks and perfect bodies, nor on their sense of fashion and style, nor on the size in their bank accounts. Rather, you admire them for their character and actions.

Topic Stimulators

Think of three people who are the heroes and heroines among your family and friends. Then ask yourself these questions:

  • What qualities about these special people do you most admire?
  • How many of these qualities have anything to do with their physical characteristics, their flare for fashion, or their possessions?
  • What qualities do they have that you want to have?
  • How does thinking about the people you admire encourage you to find and express those same qualities in your life?