Being a Hero… Locally

When you were a kid, who were the people you looked up to and admired?  Maybe it was the big name baseball player or the famous golfer.  But most likely, the people you looked up to were the ones who you experienced in your every day life – your baseball or softball coach, your Scout leader, your teacher, your big siblings or neighbors.  These were your local heros.   They could be stern, tough, young, old, cool, strong, athletic, smart, caring or any combination of the above.  These people meant something to you and they carried significant clout in your mind.

When we get older we have the ability to comprehend the larger world around us we start to admire business and thought leaders that are larger than life.  In many cases these leaders can be distant from us in terms of geographic location.  Originally we learned of them through books, and now the internet has allowed us to share information across the globe quickly so thoughts can influence us from anywhere at anytime.  I spend a lot of time reading thoughts from these people.

Recently I’ve been considering the power of local heros again in the same way I did when I was a child.  We have a lot of them here in Charlottesville.  I look around and see loads of other small business owners making positive impact on my immediate community every day.  These people inspire me as well but in a more subtle, yet more tangible way.  This thought has made me consider what I do in my local community to give back.  After a quick inventory check I realize that for all of the work I do: blogging, coaching, and working with bands- it is the relationships I have right here in my own town where I can see my life and its impact most acutely.  For example, we bring our artists to our town for a show and I can directly experience the joy it brings to friends and family.  I coach local business owners and see their work blossom in front of my eyes.  I work directly with our employees and interns and I can watch them grow.  My wife and I host pot lucks to connect friends and neighbors.

I mention this because I see in myself and many other ambitious folks the urge to connect and make a difference in the world.  But making a difference in the world doesn’t start from the largest podium or the largest voice.  Even the largest voice started in a local community somewhere.

We all have the opportunity to be a local hero.  And you never know how or when you are being the hero.  When I was younger, I didn’t tell my coach or teacher that I admired them even though I learned a lot from the best of them.  Even now if I look up to someone I don’t always remember to tell them.  The opportunity could come in even the smallest moment with a stranger.  The lingering memory or effect of that moment could last a life time though.  In all of the striving to make a difference in the larger world, we should remind ourselves that everyday we have the chance to be a hero in our immediate community.

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