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A Hero Is One Who ...

Have you ever been bowled over by another person's kindness? I don't recall her name, and I doubt she remembers mine. But last week, a woman in my water aerobics class did something so graceful and gracious, it reduced me to silence. It also prompted this Pep Talk.

She smiled when I needed it most

"Jane" and I come from rival schools—the two of us have talked about this. Suffice it to say, my school's been under siege lately. So when I saw Jane last week from across the pool, I gave her what must have been a sad smile.

Her gracious smile in return spoke volumes about her character. She didn't hit me when I was down. She didn't pry. She took no delight in my discomfort—she had no need to. Dear Lord, how I love people like that.

All of this got me thinking about the tiny acts of heroism that surround us every day. Sometimes we overlook them, because they come from our closest loved ones. But no matter where they come from, these simple acts of generosity can have a big impact. For example:

A Hero Is One Who...

  • Lets you in during a traffic jam
  • Starts and ends the meeting on time
  • Cancels meetings that aren't truly necessary
  • Takes no delight in your downfall
  • Leaves you the last brownie
  • Shows up at your door with groceries when you’re too under the weather to venture out yourself
  • Looks out for you without being asked
  • Goes the extra mile, without making a big show of it
  • Resists the label “hero”
Ah, that last one. Even when we rightly use the word hero, we must remind ourselves that even heroes are human—human to the core. In the memorable words of Carol Burnett when a fan tried to put her on a pedestal, "Everyone goes to the bathroom."

Let them. Let the people around you be human. But also celebrate their goodness, their everyday acts of heroism—and most of all, let them inspire you to heroic acts of your own. As I learned last week from the lady at water aerobics, sometimes all it takes is a smile.

P.S. What else would you add to the above list?

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Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at