Leadership coach and author Robin Sharma shares tips on how to be an 'everyday hero' in today's world
'It's a playbook for people to be hopeful in a toxic world'
Leadership expert and author Robin Sharma says he has thought a lot about what it takes to be a hero — and how to live more heroically in today's world.
In The Everyday Hero Manifesto, Sharma shares his focused strategies for how to be more positive, productive and spiritual — and why it's important to help others in the process.
What do you mean by 'an everyday hero'?
Our society has schooled us into thinking that heroes are cut from some kind of magnificent cloth that we don't have.
We think of the Elon Musks or the Hedy Lamarrs or the MLKs, and The Everyday Hero Manifesto is really a handbook and a playbook for people going through a difficult time in the world to remember who they truly are.
It's about living with more authenticity, being more creative and productive in a world where a lot of people are addicted to distraction.
It's about living with more authenticity, being more creative and productive in a world where a lot of people are addicted to distraction. It's about being a little braver, being a little kinder and getting that spark back like when we were in school and believed the world was ours.
What inspired you to write this book?
I've been teaching personal optimization, leadership and productivity for a quarter of a century. But while on a trip to South Africa five years ago, I visited Nelson Mandela's prison cell. My life changed in that moment.
It had no bed, and he spent a total of 27 years of confinement in that cell. And yet, rather than emerging bitter and broken and angry, he emerged as Nelson Mandela.
It's a playbook for people to be hopeful in a toxic world.
So I started studying heroism. I've worked with a lot of successful business people and sports celebrities in the world. I decided to take everything I've learned, and the methodology I've been teaching, and put it in this book.
I wrote it for 16 months during the pandemic. It's a playbook for people to be hopeful in a toxic world — to be productive versus playing with their phones all day — and to live with a greater sense of meaning in a world where a lot of us know we can live more.
What are some of the first steps to becoming an everyday hero, being our best selves and being more courageous?
I believe awareness is the DNA of transformation: When you become aware of how the healthiest people eat or live, you can model their behaviour. But the starting point is moving through the blocks to our primal heroes.
Picasso once said, "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." When we were little kids, we were intimate with our heroism. We didn't hate; we loved; we dreamed; we were passionate; we were vital. So we picked up these blocks and one of the biggest blocks is our fears.
When we were little kids, we were intimate with our heroism. We didn't hate; we loved; we dreamed; we were passionate; we were vital.
There's a chapter in The Everyday Hero Manifesto called "Hug the Monster." And this is one of the ways of reclaiming your heroism. Every day, metaphorically speaking, you walk down the steps to the cellar, you open up the closet and you hug your monster.
It's not easy to get through a time of suffering, whether it's illness, accident, bankruptcy or divorce. Look at what we're living right now, the pandemic, it's not easy. But what makes heroes is we turn suffering into strength, and we turn even tragedy into triumph.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.