Choice that Defines Hero

What Is the Choice That Defines a Hero?

by Kalinda Rose Stevenson

The Single Action that Separates Heroes from Cowards

The difference between a hero and a coward is one step sideways.

Gene Hackman

Hero or Coward?

What's the difference between heroes and cowards? Gene Hackman defines the difference this way:

The difference between a hero and a coward is one step sideways.

Although one step sideways might not seem like much, even one step sideways is enough to identify the difference between a hero and coward. The difference is a matter of choice related to action.

The hero moves toward the danger and faces the threat head-on. The coward moves away to avoid dealing with the threat.

Confrontation or Avoidance

The choice to move toward the threat or to move away from the threat defines the essential difference between a hero and coward, It's the difference between confrontation and avoidance.

The essence of the hero's journey story lies in this distinction. A hero's journey is about a threat to the wellbeing of people who matter to the hero. When heroes decide to confront the dangers, the problems, and the conflicts created by the threat, they must move toward the threat rather than away from it.

A hero's journey story involves going from the safety of a familiar place to confront the threatening danger at its source.

In contrast, cowards run away to avoid dealing with the threat. Rather than putting themselves in jeopardy by confronting the threat, cowards act to save themselves.

If you choose to examine your own life to determine whether you are more of a coward than a hero, you can begin by paying attention to when you sidestep problems and when you face them head-on. Do you confront what you fear or do you avoid confrontation? Do you stand up for people who are being threatened or do you pretend not to notice. Do you remain silent? Do you go along to get along? Standing up for yourself and others to oppose the threat is definitely not easy to do.

However, when you decide to gather your courage to face what you fear, especially when you choose to take a stand rather than sidestep the problem, your choice can have a powerful transformative effect on your life and the lives of others. You can be a hero rather than a coward.

Gene Hackman, retired from a brilliant movie career, is now using his storytelling skills to write thrilling novels. One of his recent novels is Pursuit. This is a thriller that pits a devoted police sergeant against a predator who may cost her everything that matters.

[Original Post September 16, 2014]

[Original Post August 10, 2016]
What are your thoughts about heroic stories? Have you been inspired by particular movies or books in ways that changed your life? Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.

My book, How to Get Out of The True Self Trap: The Life-Changing Secret of Heroic Stories,  challenges the assumptions of self-help work that treats you as a problem to be solved. This tendency is deeply rooted in religious and psychotherapeutic beliefs about fixing what is wrong with you. In contrast, heroic stories are about ordinary people doing extraordinary actions in response to some outer challenge. In the process, they discover that they are capable of far more than the imagined.

Available on Amazon in either Kindle or paperback versions. Click Buy Now From Amazon to get your copy now.

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