Ordinary Heroes

Gerwig 2013-11-13

Do you have hair? A few years ago, I decided to start shaving my head. My hairline was receding and I didn’t like the way it looked. So over a period of about 6 months, I cut it shorter and shorter, until it was about 1/8 inch long. The next step? You guessed it, I shaved my head.

The first time I did it felt weird. I was a bit nervous. What if I didn’t like it? Would I be able to grow it back? What if I didn’t like it? What would others think? Well, I liked it. I liked the way it looked. And I liked that it was low maintenance. And on top of all that, my wife loved it. So I did the obvious, I continued to shave my head.

One additional, ongoing benefit (besides a happy wife) is that I save on shampoo and haircuts. I no longer go to the barber. Every few weeks, I save $5-15 because I’m not going to the barber. This is a benefit that I enjoy, but there is at least one downside to shaving my head. I don’t go into barbershops anymore.

“So what?” you ask. Well, a great barbershop can be an interesting place. You get to meet interesting folks, learn all kinds of news (ok, gossip), get a hot neck shave (if you’ve never had one you’re missing out!) and get advice on everything under the sun from hot stock picks to national policy. Barbershops are great places to hang out. O yeah, they are also good for getting a haircut. So you see, when I started shaving my head, there was a cost, an unintended consequence of sorts.

Why the talk about barbershops, barbers and my haircut? Well, barbers, to me, represent a type of ordinary hero. They represent folks who get up every day and go about their work with little or no fanfare. There are no million dollar salaries for barbers. There are no cameras or paparazzi for barbers. Towns don’t throw parades for barbers. There isn’t a welcome committee at the airport for barbers.

Barbers represent ordinary heroes. These heroes add value to society in countless jobs every day. These heroes deliver the mail. Make beds. Cook breakfast. Help with school projects. Teach a Sunday School class. Deliver meals to the homeless. Cash your check at the bank. Cut your meat at the grocery store. Explain mathematical concepts to 2nd graders. Give a practical sermon on Sunday. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Ordinary heroes produce countless goods and services that we use every day. Yet when was the last time you thanked the postman, the bank teller, or your child’s teacher for their service. Even if they’re paid for their service, they’re still providing society (of which you’re a part) with a great benefit. If that automotive assembly worker didn’t do their job, you wouldn’t have a car to drive. If the lineman working for the power company didn’t do their job, you wouldn’t have heat this winter. If the farmer didn’t get up at 4am to tend the fields, you wouldn’t have food to eat.

Let’s remember these ordinary heroes and thank them. Whether a skilled laborer, a stay-at-home parent, or a corporate professional, let’s remember the value they add to our society and to us individually. You see, people tend to be attracted to the home run, to the dangerous, and to the over-the-top. We tend to recognize and appreciate people who put themselves in harm’s way for the good of society. And this is appropriate. We should acknowledge and appreciate men and women who serve in the fire department, the military, the police department, etc. They absolutely deserve to be recognized and appreciated. They’ve sacrificed and have earned our acknowledgement as a society. We should also recognize athletes and entertainers, who help us in countless ways through entertainment that helps us relax, as well as politicians who write beneficial laws that protect our society.

But it isn’t a zero-sum game. Let’s also be quick to recognize ordinary heroes. Those that work behind the scenes. Those that can often be taken for granted. Those that add incalculable value to our daily lives. The world-class leader recognizes that not everyone is an all-star. The world enjoys bigger-than-life heroes, but it would not function without the ordinary heroes who fly under the radar screen every day.

Society benefits from millions of unsung, ordinary heroes, perhaps like you, who go about their work without much attention. Thank you for what you do. You may be an ordinary hero, but you matter. Without you, the world would not function well.

How about you? Are you an All-Star or an Ordinary Hero? Who has impacted your life the most, someone famous or someone who remains faceless and anonymous to the masses? Do you realize what a great impact you have on others regardless of your position or role?

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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