Michael Levin: Forget New Year’s resolutions – ask yourself THIS important question instead  

As we turn over the odometer and begin the 2020s, there’s one question you need to ask to make the next 10 years worthwhile and fulfilling, for yourself, for those in your immediate world, and for all of us, really.

It comes from the Oscar acceptance speech by Matthew McConaughey when he recalled a friend asking who McConaughey’s hero was. The actor replied, “It’s me in 10 years.”

So, with thanks to McConaughey, who would you need to be 10 years from now so that the future you can be your hero today?

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The implication, of course, is that anyone can be a hero. It’s not just about being a military leader or a business leader, or even a leader at all. You can be a hero without having any followers.

It’s an intriguing thought because it makes us stop and ask some additional essential questions.

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Who are our heroes today? What behavior do we consider heroic?

What’s the difference between being heroic and merely being successful? What traits can we overlook in a hero, or in ourselves, and still consider that person a role model?

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What aspects of life require heroism? How do you rise to the occasion? What occasions are worth rising to?

God willing, we will all be here 10 years from now to analyze the results. But by asking this question, we have the option of not just being 10 years older but 10 years better. So, let me ask you now:

Who are your heroes? And why shouldn’t you be a hero, not just to others, but to yourself  – especially to yourself?

I run the Boston Marathon most years. I’m 61, and this April will be my ninth Boston since 2005. When I get to the finish line, I always think of three thoughts.

If we don’t inspire ourselves – to be more, to do more, to appreciate more, to love more – how can we inspire anyone else?   

One is that I likely inspired a lot of people along the way, with my grey hair flowing gently in the wind. Second, I always think I should have trained more. Third, I remind myself that, in addition to inspiring others, I inspire myself.

You might think that sounds silly or self-serving. But the reality is if we don’t inspire ourselves – to be more, to do more, to appreciate more, to love more – how can we inspire anyone else?

So, consider this an invitation to think about how you want to inspire yourself over the next 120 months. And to put the key question to you again, it’s this:

Who do you have to be 10 years from now, so that person is a hero to who you are today?

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You don’t necessarily have to become that person overnight. You just have to have something to aim for. And if you take this challenge, you are already my hero.

Happy New Year, and happy pondering just what kind of hero you need to be for yourself, and for the world.

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