We Can Be Heroes, Just for One Day

Errol Flynn as Robin HoodThere's a section of my planner that I reserve for idea generation. There's the usual fodder --mindmaps, random word lists, flow charts, and so forth-- but lately there seems to be one sheet I turn to more than others: I call it my "Heroes List."

The premise is a simple one. First, get a sheet of regular note paper and create a list of those people who interest you in a positive way, whether real or fictional. Now, I don't mean just those people who are flawless supermen or superwomen, but those people who are known for their creativity, their problem solving skills, or even for the force of their personalities. And the list can include villains as well, if they have redeeming qualities.

As an example, here is the start of my list:

Sherlock Holmes
Albert Einstein
Kurt Vonnegut
Will Eisner
Robin Hood
Emily Carr
Sigmund Freud
Ray Bradbury
Jeanne d'Arc
David Bowie
Sun Tzu
Steve Kilbey
King Arthur
Ben Franklin

The list goes on for some fifty names, all very much different. I'd advise choosing people about whom you know a fair deal -- having an insight into the way they think, the actions they'd pursue, is key.

Now, when a difficult problem presents itself, or when you'd like to think off the straight and narrow, turn to this page. Choose one at random, and put yourself into his or her shoes. How would this person approach the issue in question?

Sometimes the result is quite amusing. Imagine Robin Hood at a corporate boardroom meeting, Sigmund Freud developing a marketing plan for an organic vegetable farm, or Sherlock Holmes shopping for winter boots. Silliness is fine; it puts a unique perspective on the matter.

Other times, the overall effect is to escape one's paradigm to fashion a more critical approach: imagine Sun Tzu developing a fitness plan, or Jeanne d'Arc called to testify to a friend's lack of honesty.

What would they do? And what does that teach you? Don't be afraid of looking at the world through another's eyes, especially when those eyes are capable of great vision. There's often a whole new perspective waiting to be shared.

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Title: No Man is a Hero to His Valet...

Heroes have a long tradition in teaching us about about our culture and its values. Athough in some cultures the word appears to have gathered a mythical power all of its own; sometimes to the point where it becomes conflated with 'pop' stars and gurus. To me, the true hero is someone who 'overcomes' in order to help mankind, rather than just looks good in lycra. Therefore a good hero may combine the 'trickster' archetype, for example Brer Rabbit or Bugs Bunny with a desire to redeem themselves through good service to others, although not particularly virtuous in their own right. For example Heracles.

The question must be; "who should go on my Heroes List?" Lorenzo de’ Medici is an obvious choice, although unfortunately for anyone seeking my patronage, so is Kurt Hahn. Therefore one is just as likely to receive a lengthy dissertation on heuristic problem solving and 'spiritual' decline. as money towards the cost of a platinum Porsche... ;)

At the beginning of this article you mention having a section for 'idea generation'. This is one of the reasons I am planning a shift to 'A5'. At the moment I have a separate manilla folder filled with 'Cornell notes', which sits in my briefcase. However your 'hub and satellite' approach seems to offer a sound compromise bewteen practicality and portability... And I am sure Spock would also find it the logical thing to do.