Phil Zimbardo
Source: Phil Zimbardo

Hi! Phil Zimbardo here. I've teamed up with my colleague Daniel Martin, PhD, to share the importance of heroism in these turbulent times. Let's get started:

Who isn’t thrilled by superheroes?

Given the plethora of new and upcoming movies, it seems we can’t get enough of them. While each superhero has an individual origin story, unique power, and complicated relationships with other superheroes and organizations, we rarely think of ourselves and those around us as potential Heroes.

Why? Do we lack super individual strengths? Hyper-acute senses? Strong moral convictions? Awareness of unseen dimensions that shift others and ours behaviors, positively or negatively? The obvious answer is no – but each one of us has unique knowledge, skills, and abilities that can help us stand out on a daily basis. The heroic question is: What are the forces in our lives that often times make us shy away from offering help, standing up for ourselves or others, or acting wisely on our heartfelt values?

What are Heroes?

As we enter a new era of charged political challenges, in America as well as in Europe and Asia, we are stressed, uncertain, and fearful of about our future. We all need more effective ways to communicate our feelings, and to share our compassionate concerns.

Heroes are in all of us, no matter age, sex, political affiliation, religion, or ability. They are mostly ordinary, everyday people whose acts of heroism qualify as extraordinary. Focusing on We rather than Me, they form essential links among us; they forge the bonds of our Human Connection. Anyone can be a hero anytime an opportunity arises to stand up for what is right and just, and to speak out against injustice, corruption, and other evils.

We define heroism as taking an intentional action in service to others in need or service to humanity by defending a moral cause, without personal gain and with awareness of likely personal costs. Heroism is the creation of a “bright line” of morality on an issue that is defended, upheld, and promoted despite pressures to do otherwise. Heroism may involve an impulsive action, saving a life, or may be reflective, planning a course of action to oppose injustice and immorality. Heroes act against all forms of evil while standing up for principled values that make our society a better home for all citizens.

Heroic Imagination Project (HIP)

After years of investigating the conditions that lead good people to turn evil, the effort to inspire and train ordinary people to become “Everyday Heroes” has become a new paramount mission. Our San Francisco non-profit association, the Heroic Imagination Program (HIP), develops and implements research, education, and corporate and public initiatives to inspire and encourage everyday heroism. HIP summarizes decades of psychological research and offers an engaging and impactful series of lessons that give the opportunity to make heroic action a daily choice that is within our reach. We have had great success with our American program and in a dozen nations globally. (Please visit the HIP website.)

However, we now have the opportunity to take this unique educational program and scale it using the Brightsity Platform (a dyad-based learning, and measurement system).

HIP and Brightsity

Heroes are in all of us, no matter age, sex, political affiliation, religion or ability. They are mostly ordinary, everyday people whose acts of heroism qualify as extraordinary. Focusing on We rather than Me, they form essential links among us; they forge the bonds of our Human Connection. Anyone can be a hero anytime an opportunity arises to stand up for what is right and just, and to speak out against injustice, corruption and other evils.

Participants engage with meaningful experiential peer-to-peer discussions on cutting edge, evidenced- based perspectives on wellbeing, heroism, resilience, prejudice, and the power of unjust situational forces and how to resist them, values congruence, growth mindset orientation, and also the importance of socio-centrism. The program relies on a rich fund of evidence based literature; primarily social psychology perspectives reliant on my life work, as well as many other lines of research:

1. Program introduction, and heroic empathic listening
2. Learning about fixed, static mind sets versus dynamic growth mindsets, with goal of cultivating a growth mindset
3. Situational awareness – Recognizing our environment and how situational forces can overpower us
4. Social conformity – Delving more deeply into group conformity, ways to avoid submission to unjust authority, and cultivation of heroism
5. Bystander – Learning how to avoid being an avoidant bystander
6. Prejudice and discriminationUnderstanding bias, its impact, and how to address it in order to reverse it
7. Misattributions and stereotype threat – Learning how we fall into seeing ourselves in negative fashions and how to respond effectively
8. Consolidation — What have we taken from this program, how have we grown, and how it will impact our life

The Brightsity platform’s first course, Compassion Skills Training (CST), has been used by thousands of doctors, nurses, employees, managers, business leaders, undergraduate, and graduate students. We have been able to demonstrate statistically significantly increased psychometric outcomes, such as Leadership, Service Orientation, Compassion for others, Mindfulness, and other interpersonal skills that are critical for organizations (recruitment, selection, performance measurement) and accreditation purposes. As critically, CST has significantly diminished stress, anxiety, and depression (which cause huge productivity losses).  Please visit the CST website.   

Our global launch is in Sweden, August 20-27.  Reach out to the Brightsity website and learn more about how HIP can be used in your school, university, hospital, business, non-profit, or your government service sectors to enrich and empower everyone of us to be our best Everyday Hero in Training.

Ciao! — Phil Zimbardo with Dan Martin

For in depth information about how your life is affected by the mental time zones that you live in, check out our website, and our books: The Time Cure  and The Time Paradox.

Learn more about yourself and helpful ways to cope with life’s stress – visit our app website.

Take Charge! Get in touch with the Hero in You! Check out Phil Zimbardo's Heroic Imagination Project.

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