Blog > Letting go of The Hero

January 15, 2010

While Johnnie Moore was here this week, we’ve been riffing this idea of ‘putting down your clever, and picking up your ordinary’. I’ve also written about it here and here and here.

It’s also known as ‘be average’ and emerges from improv theatre. I know I have more work to do on this because I consistently forget it. Most recently, the evidence is here. Here’s part of what I wrote just a few weeks ago:

“That feeling of ‘not good enough’ is just SO hard to shake. There’s a handful of draft blogs, unfinished and unpublished. And don’t even start me on books! Ideas pop into my head and just as quickly I discard them. Where does this self-editing begin, I wonder? I know I’m not alone. And I know that the world needs all our ideas – good and bad, possible and impossible, those that will stick, and those that will dissipate. I wonder how we can support each other to share our ideas, to be brave enough, bold enough, instead of *not good enough*?”

For the past six months I’ve been taking part in a coaching class with Patti Digh and David Robinson. I missed the last four on-line conversations, so one day when I had some time to myself I listened to the recordings. There was some talk about feeling like a fraud and believing that everything that needed to be done, or said, had already been, well, done or said. The crux of it being: ‘what can I add?’ This story that David Robinson told really stuck with me.

“We were talking about the Law of Polarity, that is, believing that there are only two points and how that can freeze you. That it’s them or me, or it’s right or wrong – when actually all of these things are inter-related, you only know dark because of its relationship to light, you only know the things you know because of their relationship to other things.”

This led to one of David’s collegaues telling his own story.

“For a vast portion of my life I was really invested in the Hero Syndrome which meant, if you believe in the poles( aka  the Law of Polarity) then there has to be an Anti-Hero. The more I invested in the Hero, the more I grew the Anti-Hero. And what I was trying to get away from was the Anti-Hero, so I kept invested in the Hero. Ultimately, after diminishing myself and my work in a number of ways – eg the perfectionism that comes from believing that you have to be a Hero and the tide that rises inside of you that says, ‘I’m not’ (the Anti-Hero, that you make enormously powerful by investing in the Hero), I recognised that what I needed to do in order to defeat and let go of the Anti-Hero was to let go of the idea that I needed to be a Hero. And suddenly all these choices opened up – I didn’t have to save the world, I didn’t have to be Pablo Picasso, I just have to do what I do, and in doing what I do there is no more Anti-Hero. I no longer empower it. I don’t have to be ‘good enough’ or ‘not good enough’ – which are versions of the Hero and Anti-Hero.”

David then explained how this was manifest as the improv theatre principle: putting down your clever and picking up your ordinary.

“The way to really be present and powerful with yourself is to put down the idea that you need to be right, that you need to be brilliant, that you need to BE anything, AND in fact what you need to do is to pick up your ordinary, because the thing you have labeled as ordinary IS what makes you special, it’s your most powerful, most potent gift, it’s where your talents are, and yet it is ordinary to you. You think everybody has it. You deny the very thing that is your most potent gift. So this is all about not investing in the Hero so we can let go of the Anti-Hero. Letting go of ‘good enough’ so that ‘not good enough’ has no power.”

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