A hero is an exceptional individual or a primary fictional character who, against odds and without any external threat, successfully combats adversity by harnessing courage, intelligence, or strength of character in face of grave danger. Unlike other previously solely gender-defined terms, hero has recently become more generic, with the term sometimes being used to describe just about anybody. Young boys are not necessarily seen as heroes, and there are a number of reasons for this, most importantly that the term hero usually relates specifically to men, though that is certainly not the case. Similarly, while it is very easy for young girls to identify with the heroines in fairy tales and other narrative mediums, where as we see very few examples of heroines, boys have much less success doing so. As such, here are some common uses of the term that should help us understand what a hero could mean to a child or any person today.
Defining characteristics. We tend to think of heroes as powerful, assertive individuals who take on insurmountable odds and find themselves emerge a victor over adversity. While this is certainly part of the definition, there are also other defining characteristics of a hero that help us understand what they are and how they act. A hero has the ability to stand up for what they believe in and to be willing to sacrifice themselves for their beliefs, sometimes even at great personal cost. Moreover, heroes have an inner strength and courage to follow their faith and ideals even when the outside world tells them that it’s not worth it.
Inspirational role models. Often young boys are inspired by a variety of different historical figures, stories, and legends that are presented to them in their youth. Though most of these stories and characters have meaning that can be applied to real-life situations today, sometimes the lessons learned from these heroes can still resonate through time and can resonate through the present day. Through heroic imagination, children are taught that real people fight for what they believe in, and that those who are willing to put their all into making something larger than themselves are heroes. This kind of hero is one who is admirable because he is willing to sacrifice himself for his ideals and beliefs.
Role models. Children often turn to role models to act out their own heroics. There are a number of different figures and characters that can be picked from among popular literature and movies. One example would be Aesop’s fables where the main character, Aesop, follows his conscience by helping other people rather than doing what he considers right, which would earn him the respect and admiration of the people around him. In modern-day terms, role models are parents, teachers, siblings, and peers.
Role models can come in all shapes and forms, but most importantly, they are humans. Humans are social creatures who share a bond based upon their ability to see another being at a different level, one who acts and speaks differently than the majority. Thus, a child who sees his or her parent murder someone will likely mimic that behavior. Likewise, while a child who sees his teacher get killed may not take the actions that the hero does, the latter still sees his teacher as an example and good person, so he may try to emulate him in the future.
Finally, there is the third component, the percentage report, which examines how effective the hero was at helping his/her group achieve its goals. When a game is well planned and executed, each and every player should have an accurate, percentile representation of how effective the hero was at achieving the results. The hero’s percent report should provide a list of the positive results achieved for every mission the hero took part in, from the smallest task to the largest. For smaller organizations where performance reports are only provided to employees, providing this information is even more important.