Who’s your hero? If you’re a hockey fan, maybe it’s Wayne Gretzky. A musician? Perhaps it’s The Beatles. Business people might look up to Bill Gates.
Regardless of who they are, heroes are said to be born, not made.
But would any of your heroes be successful and worthy of your admiration without a little bit of being “made”, or trained, for the role?
Gretzky credits his father for much of his success. Walter Gretzky had The Great One skating before the age of three, he regularly built backyard rinks and told the boy Wayne to “go where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.”
Music historians and The Beatles themselves credit almost daily stints of up to six hours on stage, during two years in Hamburg, for their unique sound, performance skills and song-writing abilities.
In 1968, a time when computers were still a mystery to most, 13-year-old Bill Gates got the opportunity to use a high school computer on which he spent countless hours programming and learning. He later said that unique access helped him succeed and become the wealthiest person in the world.
Clearly, without a lot of work, learning and training, no one born a hero would ever become one.
But what about the rest of us who aren’t born heroes? Do we simply make do with what we’ve been given?
The answer is a resounding NO. And, surprisingly, it comes from the same scientists who claim the “heroes are born not made” adage is true.
While there’s lots of research to support or debunk the “heroes are born” saying, a 2009 study found that some people had lower levels of the body’s stress hormone, which allowed them to perform better under pressure – including the stressful situations in which many of our heroes, like first responders, excel.
But the author of the study, Professor Deane Aikins, also pointed out that the research might help develop ‘mental therapies’ that would allow others to improve how they handle stress. “We’re now getting to the point where we might be able to train people to do better under high stress…mental health ‘push-ups’ might help to better deal with that stress”, said Professor Aikins.
The Professor’s point about “mental therapies” is based on the fact that the human brain has the ability to rewire itself. It’s called neuroplasticity and it means that your brain can actually grow, develop new connections and be “trained” for specific purposes, like handling stress.
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Now that’s heroic.
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