Thinking Like a Heroine/Hero (#KindnessRevolution)


An ‘Everyday’ Hero

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard called it, “The cold is the real killer here. In 10 minutes you could be dead without proper clothing.” It is so bitterly cold here in the Midwest that this letter to the editor of a local Nebraska newspaper really struck me today:

“This evening on my way home I got stalled in a long line of traffic at the railroad crossing on Custer Street. When the crossarms went up I was surprised that no one on either side moved. Finally a few cars started swerving around to get across the tracks.

It was then that I noticed a person standing in the freezing cold next to a dog that had been hit by a train.

So whoever you are, I want you to know I was so touched by your kindness to protect that dog. Had you not stood there, that poor animal would have gotten run over repeatedly by the long line of cars. You are my hero!”

–Deb Phillips, January 8, 2014  (Grand Island Independent, Grand Island, Nebraska)

What Makes a Hero?

“When I do good, I feel good.  When I do bad, I feel bad.  That’s my religion.” Abraham Lincoln

That Deb took the time to write this letter to the editor is incredibly heartening to me — worthy of a #KindnessRevolution badge on so many fronts. She also got me thinking about heroism, especially this ‘everyday’ Main Street kind of hero, a person who quietly:  sacrifices, faces danger, takes a stand against injustice or harm to other beings.

Phillip Zimbardo has spent decades researching what makes us good and bad — and heroic. Here are a few key insights Zimbardo reports from his survey of 4,000 Americans:

  • Heroes are everywhere. One in five—20 percent—qualify as heroes. Seventy-two percent report helping another person in a dangerous emergency. Sixteen percent report whistle blowing on an injustice. Six percent report sacrificing for a non-relative or stranger. Fifteen percent report defying an unjust authority. (Not one of these people has been formally recognized as a hero, according to Zimbardo’s study.)
  • Gender matters. Males reported performing acts of heroism more than females. Zimbardo thinks this is because women tend not to regard a lot of their heroic actions as heroic. It’s just what we women think we’re supposed to do for our family or a friend.
  • Personal history matters. Having survived a disaster or personal trauma makes you three times more likely to be a hero and a volunteer.

To learn more, see Zimbardo’s article and videos at

Thinking Of Ourselves as Heroines/Heros

“One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being.” –May Sarton

Heroes don't always wear capesNot all heroes wear capes, dog tags or crowns. Not many heroines and heroes actually make the news. We women, especially, don’t even think of ourselves as heroic and for this reason, today’s reflection…

1) Spend a little time reflecting on how to think and act like a heroine/hero. For inspiration, read a short bio on someone you consider heroic.

2) Breathe and imagine. What if you shifted your thinking and purposely acknowledged when you sacrifice, risk, take a stand, or speak out for others, as an act of heroism? 

2) Name one time you acted heroically in the past. How might naming your heroism more often fuel more courage, more acts of kindness, more result in the common good?

Go on and let yourself be HEROIC!

If you have everyday heroism stories like Deb’s to share, I’d absolutely love to pass them along here. As always, feel free to email me:



  1. Susan Caba says:

    Hi Jone,

    I have twice saved someone from choking by using the Heimlich maneuver. One was a teenage boy who had gulped down half a hamburger in one bite, was choking–though his friends didn’t realize it, and was stumbling toward the counter when I saw him. I did the Heimlich maneuver, he coughed up the burger–then went right back to his friends and began scarfing down the rest of the burger! I left, I couldn’t watch!
    The second one was an older friend who had laughed while eating a piece of cantaloupe. She, too, had trouble saying what was happening.

    I urge everyone to learn the maneuver and remember that sometimes people can’t tell you when they are choking and it’s not always readily apparent.

  2. Wow Sue, thanks for sharing this! You are definitely heroic and what great advice — get ready for heroism by learning the Heimlich. Many thanks for being such a great source of encouragement!
    My very best,

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