Stepping up to be a hero is something to which most of us aspire. But being heroic all day, every day? Many of us might wonder if that’s even possible. And truth be told, there is some science out there to back up the belief that heroism in action is not only hard, but collectively rare.
The bystander effect and the diffusion of responsibility, for example, are both scientific phenomena whereby individuals are less likely to take the necessary action to help someone in distress when other bystanders or witnesses are about. They wait for someone else to act instead.
And these phenomena can pop up even when the person in distress is you. You don’t do the things you know you could do to be your best in your relationships, work, or everyday life because no one else around you is.
But what if that changed? What if — instead of standing still — we were all more inclined to actually do what we know we could when faced with a moment of decision?
This is the mission behind Heroic, a new, transformational social training platform founded by philosopher entrepreneur Brian Johnson, and Spartan’s official wellness app.
“Every single morning, Heroic asks people to commit to who they are at their best,” Johnson explains. “How does that version of themselves show up? And, most importantly, what are they going to do today to actually live in alignment with that best version of themselves?
Of course, this is not an easy ask. Every Spartan knows that commitment means going all in; no half-assery allowed. Which brings us back to the question: if people are less inclined to show up as their best selves when it's most needed, how, then, does Heroic expect people to commit to being their best all day every day? For Johnson and co., it’s actually easier than we think.
Much like Spartan’s own ethos of putting in place intentional and dedicated practices, despite the sweat and challenges (or — let’s be real — because of the sweat and challenges), Heroic believes we’re all capable of consistent acts of heroism if we would only actively and genuinely commit to them. Here's how.
How to Be Heroic in Your Everyday Life
1. Understand What It Means to Be Heroic
When many of us think of the word “hero,” we think of “tough guy” or “killer of bad guys.” But in ancient Greek, the word “hērōs” actually means “protector;" someone who looks after themselves and others. They are motivated by love. In other words, a person who, as the Heroic team defines it, has strength for two.
But how do you, as a normal, everyday person, gain such strength? Heroic believes the path forward is by blending the teachings of the past, underpinned by the power of what we know now. As a result, the Heroic platform uses a power-packed punch of ancient wisdom and modern science to help people become the heroes of their own lives.
They do this by presenting eight specific virtues that, when put into action, provide you with the exact tools necessary for heroic living (that is, a deeper sense of meaning, connection, and joy).
You see, true heroism isn’t about being the best and looking buff. It’s about doing your best to live in alignment with the qualities you hold most dear.
By definition, a hero is someone who is admired for their achievements and noble qualities. Both ancient wisdom and modern science agree to the fact that these achievements are gained and qualities utilized in service to others or in defense of certain ideals and — as importantly — through the adoption of specific virtues.
“If you look at any of the religious traditions and non-religious philosophical traditions, they all basically say that the best way to live your life is with wisdom, self-mastery, courage, and love,” Michael Balchan, Heroic’s Head Coach and Chief of Staff, explains.
Positive psychology, which also started looking back at the ancient wisdom traditions, found similar virtues were necessary to live what the founder of that science, Martin Seligman, called a ‘flourishing life, a life that moves beyond just a normal or baseline state into a true sense of wellbeing.’
“The virtues that positive psychologists show are most highly-correlated with wellbeing are zest (energy), hope, gratitude, curiosity, and love,” he says.
These eight virtues — wisdom, self-mastery, courage, love, hope, gratitude, curiosity, and zest — form the basis of the platform’s teachings in a super-simple way that moves the user from theory to practice to mastery. Put any of these virtues into action — even in the smallest way — and you’re already on the road to being heroic.
2. Define Your Best
Learning from the wisdom and experience of others helps you to move on to the next step, which is to gain clarity on how you want to show up at your best.
“In Heroic, we ask everyone to simply describe who they want to be in three very specific areas, what we call our Heroic Big 3: energy, work, and love,” Balchan says. “You set an identity for each, then pick three virtues and three things you are going to do today to live in alignment with that best version of yourself in energy, work, and love.
"The beauty of the platform and the practice is that it always meets you where you’re at, encouraging you to be YOUR best, whatever that means for you.”
To be a true hero, then, you don’t need to make any huge leaps or grand gestures. Committing to something as simple as being a little more positive or connecting with one person that day may suffice, Balchan explains. You can decide to do a minute’s meditation, or one round of 11 burpees. The aim should always be to take even one micro-step in the direction of who you might become.
“The aim is to close the gap between who you are capable of being and who you are actually being,” Balchan says.
3. Hone Your Habits
Once you’re clear on how you show up when you’re at the best version of yourself, Heroic claims it's critical to hone your actions as habits.
Research shows that habits are the key to increasing your chances of achieving and maintaining any goal in life. And creating habits doesn’t have to be difficult either. The Heroic advice says “pick an obvious prompt, start tiny-small, and celebrate wins.”
So, for example, an obvious prompt for the person who wants to build a habit of going for a run each morning could be putting their running shoes where they see them as soon as they wake up.
After that, you do “the easiest, most impossible-to-fail part of the habit and build consistency,” Balchan explains.
So, put on the damn shoes! With every target you hit, you celebrate, he adds. The reason is that science shows actively noting an accomplishment releases dopamine into your brain, giving you that much-enjoyed hit of the feel-goods, and setting your brain up to hunt for that hit again.
“Celebrating tells you that you’re the kind of person who can do the things you said you’d do, and helps you in developing a meta-skill, which is a master skill that jump-starts others," Balchan says. "In other words, one heroic habit can lead to the mastery of countless others."
And for thousands of users already, Heroic has demonstrated in a profound way that such mastery is not just possible, but 100% achievable. The apps holds you accountable and transforms you little by little, every day, into the hero you were born to be.
Heroic conducted a pilot study of over 1,000 of its members, in partnership with leading experts in the field of positive psychology and human flourishing, and measured human flourishing incorporating two validated well-being measures. They found that members who hit five or more Heroic targets each day, on average moved from the 60th percentile to the 83rd percentile in flourishing in just 30 days.
That’s like starting a race and finishing in 40th place out of 100. Then, 30 days later (with a few minutes of training in the Heroic app and hitting those three-plus targets you committed to), starting the same race and finishing 23 spots faster, or 17th instead of 40th.
And, as measured by Heroic’s internal Heroic Big 3 scale, members who hit just three or more targets per day, on average, reported a 40% increase in energy, a 20% increase in productivity (that's like working five days and getting a bonus day free), and a 15% increase in connection — all in just a few minutes in the app per day, for just 30 days.
4. (Re)Commit Every Day
Finally, you commit every day.
“Every single day is a new day,” Balchan says, “No matter what happened yesterday, you can still show up today and re-commit. Re-commitment is, in fact, more important than an individual’s initial pledge. As we like to say, New Year’s Resolutions are cool. New Day’s Resolutions are better.”
Once again, science agrees with them. If you re-commit to an action every day, your reticular activating system (RAS) — that part of your brain responsible, among other things, for our consciousness, habituation, and ability to focus — starts looking for opportunities to do the thing that’s obviously important enough for us to want to repeat.
Recommitting to an act of virtue every day, no matter how small, is the surest path to becoming heroic all day, every day. And here’s where it gets really juicy: If an individual commits to a minimum of 10 virtuous acts a day, over a year, that’s what the Heroic team describes as 3,650 ARV (annual recurring virtue).
“We’re already building a community of people who can attest to the true transformational power of Heroic," Balchan says. "We hope we’re on course to build a community of over 1 million people. Imagine if each of those people committed to even just 10 acts of virtue a day.
“Over a year, that’s more than 3.65 billion annual acts of virtue. Is the world going to be a better place if that’s happening? Yeah, we think so.”
Heroic is the Official Wellness App of Spartan. It is built around helping you to express the best version of yourself and create a world in which 51% of the world’s population is flourishing by the year 2051 — starting with you. Heroic offers a 2-week free trial for both iOS and Android users and is giving the Spartan community 20% off. Visit Heroic for more info and use code SPARTAN20 at checkout.