Stories of the “loser hero” are famous, whether it is the Karate Kid-style longshot or the Rocky Balboa underdog who emerges as an improbable victor. Who can resist the tried and true formula established in 1976 by The Bad News Bears?
Real life examples abound of the person demonstrating true value in a time of crisis, showing that this can be done without a Hollywood music-over-training montage or “win one for the Gipper” pep talk. America longed to embrace the story of Ted Williams, the seemingly mild-mannered homeless man suddenly offered opportunity and good fortune. We want to see the dark horse succeed. We love the “loser hero”.
But what about the “jerk hero”?
A buddy of mine told me the story from his past Border Patrol days where confrontations with bad guys on the border sometimes got…frisky. He told of a fellow agent who was good-for-nothing, shiftless, and had the reputation for looking out only for himself. Never one to give extra effort, he was admittedly in the job for the paycheck alone. One night, as the bum agent was on a call with his partner, the situation broke bad and the assailant became violent. The bum agent fired a single impossible shot through a car window and saved his partner’s life. My buddy said to me, “It goes to show that you never know where your salvation might come from.”
I do not espouse the concept of maintaining dead weight employees in hopes of a roll of the dice gamble that they may pay off 10 years of parasitic laziness one day with an Annie Oakley trick shot. I’m no executive, but that probably isn’t a sound business practice.
Still, it makes me think that everyone has abilities. Anyone can shine. This means that the champion may not be a nerd-turned-homecoming king, or an orphan who becomes a millionaire. Life does not script stories to make them easier to accept. The hero may very well be a deadbeat. You may find yourself cheering tomorrow for yesterday’s miscreant.
The best people you know have bad in their lives and your worst adversaries have mothers who love them. No one is completely without virtue or value. Conversely, no one embodies evil. In a moment of honesty, I would admit that some of my friends probably have the same unpleasant qualities I despise in my enemies. I simply choose to overlook these characteristics in some people and amplify them in others.
So, in retrospect, the guy in the silver Land Rover who cut me off on Friday is looking less and less likely to be someone who kills puppies. That’s just something I have to deal with.
I am at a conference in Florida. Before I left, I asked my husband for a blog post. Last night, he sent me this one.
I love it. I hope you do too.
I’d love to hear, in the comments, about unexpected heroes in your life.
Mr. Becky is my hero for so many reasons. This week, he is my hero for the way he steps up to care for the girls so I can be away from home for work, taking on all my responsibilities and keeping the girls happy with a million fun activities. He is the best.dad.ever.
I am the founder/CEO of the Weaving Influence team, the author of Reach: Creating the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause, and the host of the Book Marketing Action Podcast. I’m a wife and mom of three kids, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, coffee, and dark chocolate.