One day, I explained to JoAnn that she was my hero. She had just made a deal for a client that to anyone else would have seemed impossible. The negotiation had gone on for weeks. They started impossibly far apart. There was every reason to give up, but JoAnn never did. She just kept going, like a dachshund with a leather chew toy bigger than herself. Eventually, the last of the obstacles succumbed to her determination, and our client was rewarded. She thanked me when she heard my hero comment, and I said, “No, you don’t understand.”
“Let me explain what I mean,” I said. “You see, a hero is usually defined in a story as the protagonist, the one for whom the audience roots. But what really makes that person the hero is all the people around her urging her to give up. The best friend says, ‘I hate to see you do this to yourself.’ The boss says, ‘It can’t be done.’ The kids say, ‘We are being neglected.’ And the villain seems undefeatable. The worse the villain, the greater the obstacles, and the louder the naysayers, the greater the hero becomes.”
I continued, “That is what a hero is, and that is why I say you are my hero.”
JoAnn cried when I told her that. I don’t know whether it was the emotional relief from making the deal or because she loves me so much, but we will both remember it forever.
You can be a hero, too. Just never give up.