Writing about my heroes (which you can find at the bottom of this post) was indeed revelatory. Here's why:
1) I was surprised by how much my heroes have changed over time — from Bewitched‘s Samantha to Peggy Noonan?
2) It was also interesting to observe that my childhood heroes were imaginary. A reminder just how much children identify with the imaginary, magical world. I wonder too if I over-agonize about the quantity of television my children consume. I clearly watched television as a child, yet most would consider me a contributing member of society.
Who were your heroes as a child? Who are they today? How have they changed?
2) My heroes have played a greater role in who I've become than I would have predicted prior to this exercise.
Example A: The fact that I so admired Samantha and Shirley Partridge as a young girl makes it a lot less surprising that I care about mothering well, my many years of “not wanting to have kids yet” notwithstanding.
Given your current vantage point, anything about your childhood heros that surprises you?
Example B: I'm rather astonished that my interest in attending UCLA was piqued because of their cheerleaders; were it not for a providential fluke, I would be a UCLA graduate. Which leads me to wonder what other decisions I've made on the basis of who I admire. Perhaps more importantly, why did I admire them in the first place?
What about you? Any decisions that you've made that now surprise you given how little forethought went in to the decision?
Example C: If I consider a cheerleader a metaphor for a hero of support, I've observed that in some aspects of my life I've internalized this role so thoroughly, it has actually been problematic as I've pursued my career. Sometimes you can be too good at something.
3) On the premise that my childhood heroes have helped shape who I've become, I am consequently hopeful that I can become like my current heroes, whether Peggy Noonan, Laura Laviada, Galadriel, or India.Arie. That I can, in fact, successfully undergo Psyche's journey, learning to be the ship AND the harbor, the hero of support AND the hero.
Who are your heros today?
What do they tell you about what you are hoping to accomplish?
Who and how you want to be?
Below is what I wrote for Matt Langdon's blog:
My hero as a young girl was Samantha on Bewitched. She was pert, adorable, and no matter what kind of tangle she found herself in, she could make things better with a wiggle of her nose. I also idolized Shirley Jones, who played the mother in The Partridge Family with whom I became even more enamored when I saw her as the ingénue in the film Oklahoma. As an eight year-old, it was magical to see that the same person could be a mother and ingénue.
In high school, my heroes were pretty, popular, feminine cheerleaders. So much so that UCLA became my top college pick because I loved watching their song girls perform whenever they played Stanford in football (my father took us to Stanford football games every fall from the time I was 7-8 years old). Footnote: Stanford was actually my top choice, but I was on the waiting list, whereas I was accepted to UCLA.
My heroes today are women who successfully embark on Psyche’s journey: they’ve learned to say no, to exercise choice, to achieve goals without throwing their caring and compassionate selves under the bus. In other words, I see all of these women as living in a both/and world.
These heroes include: Peggy Noonan, a Wall Street Journal columnist who made her name as a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, Laura Laviada, the former CEO and major shareholder of Editorial Televisa, Mexico’s largest magazine publisher (and who I had the privilege of interacting with when I covered the stock Televisa (NYSE: TV), Galadriel in Lord of the Rings, and India.Arie, a musician-singer-songwriter who it would appear loves Stevie Wonder’s music even more than I do. Until very recently, I would have also included Sydney Bristow, the fictional lead in the television show Alias.\