A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.– Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Since I’ve become public about my autism diagnosis (Aspergers) in 2014, I have become increasingly exposed to the public and their opinions of me and my work as an autism advocate and a pastor.
It comes with the territory and I have resolved that my calling to help others is greater than my need to be comfortable with everyone’s words.
Truthfully, most negative words don’t bother me. When you’ve grown up being called everything except a child of God you slowly learn how to turn off the noise of those who are unnecessarily critical of you.
Where I do have a hard time though, and where I am most uncomfortable is when people praise me. My feelings are actually in interesting combination of years of low self-esteem and self-worth and raw honest naivety about how people view my life and my work.
At the heart of it all, I am nothing more than a story teller and I’ve dedicated the last year and a half of my life to telling a story that I’ve never told. My only goal has been to tell my story of living with autism and how it impacts me as a father, husband, and a pastor.
Recently I was given the opportunity to share my story live on The Mighty. I spent an hour taking live questions and answering viewers while opening up my life to the world. The response was great and people were both receptive and supportive, however there was one comment that made me stop and think. A lot.
“You are a hero.”
Actually I am the furthest thing from a hero. I’m just a guy who wants to share his story with others in hopes that it may change someone’s life for the better.
Heroes have more courage than I do. Heroes have more strength. Heroes have way cooler clothes. Heroes are people who do things ordinary people like me can’t do.
At least that’s what I thought until I came across this quote:
“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.”
While I’m still not certain I’m a hero, I do believe that Emerson has a great point. What makes us all heroes is our willingness to spend a small amount of time going beyond our normal limits and being brave for just 300 seconds more.
I am not a hero, but I do work hard. I am not a hero but I do work hard to overcome my fears. I am not a hero but I do work hard to step out of my comfort zone. I am not a hero, but I do work very hard on doing 3 things every day for 5 minutes more than the day before, and if Emerson is right, doing these may just make you a hero too.
5 more minutes of effort 5 less minutes of excuses.
There are somethings that are very hard for me to do. Talking on camera in front of thousands of people for an hour was hard for me. It was obvious. I even received a question asking if it was overwhelming for me. My answer was yes. It was extremely overwhelmingly for me, but being a hero isn’t about the absence of fear it’s about the resolve to be brave for 5 more minutes. I made the decision to give 5 more minutes of effort and 5 less minutes of excuses and I made it and because I’m no hero, I’m sure it can work for you too.
5 more minutes of education 5 less minutes of entertainment.
Most of what I have been able to accomplish has come through education. Learning has helped me to develop the strength and self-confidence that was stolen from me as a child. Growing up I knew I wasn’t going to be the strongest, the most social, or a super star athlete but I could be smart. The value of learning has been one of my greatest assets in living life with autism. If there is something that I don’t understand I read about it. Learning can be a gateway into success. Spending just 5 more minutes on education and 5 less minutes on meaningless entertainment can make all the difference in a world that needs heroes and positive role models.
5 more minutes of entrances and 5 less minutes of exits.
I love my routines. I eat at the same places. I eat the same thing at the same places. I love my routines. They are safe. They give me a sense of security. I love my routines, but the goal of life and faith isn’t merely safety. Heroes know when to take risks and try something new. I’m not anywhere near where I want to be but I’m trying to take just 5 more minutes entering into new places and experiences and 5 less minutes exiting new places. In other words I’m working hard at trying more new things. This year alone I’ve attended two conferences. That’s a BIG deal for me, but it’s all because I’m learning that the best way to get better and braver is to spend just a little more time facing my fears than I did the day before.
Am I a hero? I still don’t think so, but I am a helper and if it really helps I’m willing to be a hero to others, even if it’s only for 5 minutes.
If you have 5 minutes to spare be someone’s hero. We just might be able to save the world if we try.