Creating a HEROES GROUP: A Creative Way to Make Decisions When You Don’t Want To

Which Way

“Nowadays you have to think like a hero in order to behave like a merely decent human being.”

 – From John LeCarre’s masterpiece, The Russia House

The above quote is used in both the novel by famed espionage author John LeCarre and the movie starring Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer. The story takes place at the end of the Cold War amidst the tension, the unknown, and the incoming challenges of détente. It might initially seem negative, but with most things that seem dark at the beginning – like your job search – it’s merely the absence of light, not the opposite of light, that unsettles us.

Is this becoming too philosophical for an employment-related piece? Good. It’s time to get Freudian!

Whether at work or in your personal life, there are times when multiple paths sit right before you, and you’re on that metaphorical fence where the grass appears green on both sides. When decision-making, you’ve probably made lists of pros and cons, spoken to others, and even flipped a coin – to which you continually then say, “OK. Best 2 out of 3” … You still can’t decide.

A HEROES GROUP is another tool to assist you in making choices. It’s a philosophical decision-making strategy that finds answers you truly, if unconsciously, want to make. It’s rumoured that both Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs have created and used HEROES GROUPs. And needless to say, they both did well for themselves.

Think of the people whom you consider your most personal heroes; whose actions and character are the most meaningful to you. They could be anyone. ANYONE. They could be family members, friends, historical figures living or dead, fictional characters, celebrities, athletes, and anyone in between, including detractors. These are private lists and no matter how quirky or disconnected on the surface as they may seem, it isn’t important. What is important is how these heroes speak to you. This is the one area where (as an example) General Chuck Yeager, Leon Trotsky, Leonard Cohen, Helen Keller, Optimus Prime, Terry Fox, your Uncle Ed, and Wicket of The Ewoks are allowed to freely congregate.

But then again, why would you do this seemingly ridiculous activity in the first place?

The commonalities in your choices are actually the characteristics that you most admire, and these characteristics can unconsciously aid you in the decisions you make –even in your search for employment. Is it determination, endurance, originality, perseverance, wit, wisdom, or being wily that you crave and or admire? It stands to reason that if they are your heroes, then you can emulate those stronger characteristics more sharply when thinking as they do.

If you’re on the fence and you need to make a decision, ask yourself, “What would my hero(es) do in this situation?” Play and think creative. The answer you imagine your heroes choosing is actually your inner conscience telling you what it thinks is best. Hence, it’s most likely the best answer to your particular challenge. Truthfully, that answer came from within – you just needed a little inspiration!

Steve Jobs once said, “There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple.” And what true Canadian wouldn’t name Wayne Gretzky as one of their all-time heroes?

Don’t just think like a job seeker, think like a job seeking hero! Why? “Nowadays, you have to.”


Jason Douglas Smith is a Training Application Coordinator with The Career Foundation, and has successfully directed clients in not only developing personalized job search strategy plans, but in circumnavigating the rigorous demands of applications for Provincially funded retraining. When not working, this self-professed Futurist can often be found reading, writing, and barbecuing in his native Burlington.   

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