So why do we feel compelled to play the hero and not the guide when we all look to a trusted guide when we need help?
Pre-COVID I discovered the wonderful world of podcasts. As someone who craves daily learning, I devoured every podcast taking nuggets and gems to improve my life.
What accompanied each podcast were the usual bios with invited guests listing an impressive array of qualifications: multiple degrees, MBAs, PHDs and vocational certificates. Their bios would show their recent keynotes given and outstanding career heights achieved. Impressive growth numbers would be shared and how transformational change had been delivered.
The experts invited onto every podcast must have been heroes in their respective organisations to have achieved so much.
So why do we feel compelled to list our achievements and play the hero?
We’ve been conditioned to sell ourselves through CVs, job applications and bios to impress. To make us stand out. It’s the equivalent in the animal world of puffing out our chests and fanning our tail feathers. Such exhibitionism makes animal species look bigger and better.
“Look at my impressive plumage. Choose me!”.
Listing our credentials is perceived to simply build our credibility.
“Look at me. Look at my list of achievements. This is how successful I’ve been.”
But it’s wrong.
For the world we live in today, it’s the polar opposite behaviour we need.
And here’s why.
We need someone who is looking out for us. We need someone to take us by the hand and lead the way. Someone who shows us the right direction. We need a guide who says:
“I recognise your problem. I understand what you need. Here’s how we do it. Everything is going to be ok.”
It’s a significant paradigm shift to make this change but it’s what the world needs. We can’t all be heroes and some of us need to play the part of the guide to help our heroes succeed. Imagine a world where everyone is a hero. A world of heroes looking for an answer to their problem without anyone to show them the way.
Heroes achieved those career successes because they had guides around them. It may have been their teams, their lecturers, their tutor or a mentor. These ‘guides’ showed them the way and visualised what success would look like.
So next time you have a conversation or asked to write a bio, the clever approach is to position yourself as the guide rather than feeling compelled to play the hero. Whether your next audience is a group or an individual, make the conversation about them, not you.
Listen to your audience to understand what they need to solve their problem, and show them the way.
So why do we still feel compelled to play the hero and not the guide?
Don’t be the Hero.
Be The Guide.
Foot Note to the Main Image
Sherpa Tenzing Norgay accompanied Sir Edmund Hilary to the successful summit of Everest on May 29th, 1953.
Hillary recalled in his book, High Adventure, near the summit they discovered soft snow. “Immediately I realised we were on dangerous ground,”
“Suddenly, with a dull breaking noise, an area of crust all around me about six feet in diameter broke off.”
The man who saved him from a fall to his death was Tenzing Norgay, whose axes kept the men tethered to the mountain, enabling Hillary, the man who would eventually admit to reaching the top of Everest first.
Every Hero needs a Guide.
James Pogson is a Certified StoryBrand Guide – UK