Corey and Lori's Quest Log


Corey and Lori’s Quest Log

Posts Tagged ‘Heroism’

Be Extraordinary

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Extraordinary IndividualLast week we talked about Achievements in a general sense. Today, let’s look at some ways you can improve your chance of achieving the results you desire. By the way, these tips apply to job hunting, school, and success at games and sports just as much as to entrepreneurship and work projects. Here’s a 7-point plan that can help you to achieve your goals:

 

  • 1. Prepare the ground. Learn skills. Study, practice, learn some more.
  • 2. Make friends and contacts.
  • 3. Decide what you want to do and where you want to go… but stay flexible.
  • 4. Keep your eyes open. Recognize opportunities when they arrive and GRAB them.
  • 5. Whatever task you take on, commit yourself fully to doing it well. Put in the time, effort, and leadership to make it happen and make it great.
  • 6. Help others to do great work as well. Be a mentor to those who need it.
  • 7. Listen and learn from the people who can make you do better work. Don’t be arrogant.

Preparation Makes Perfect

Prepare the ground. Learn skills. Study, practice, learn some more.

Would you go into an exam without studying or even reading a book on the subject first? I’ve tried that; it didn’t work out. Achievements are far more likely if you prepare for them. I got into Sierra because I spent two years before that working on an Atari ST software project. That project failed, but the experience taught me what I needed to know to get a job at Sierra. In another sense, Lori and I spent our whole lives preparing to create Quest for Glory. We played games, studied writing and programming, learned animation, and picked up other skills and knowledge that let us design and create good games.

Win Friends and Influence People

Make friends and contacts.

Almost every great opportunity we’ve had has come about because we took the time to meet and get to know interesting people. We got the jobs at Sierra because we knew Carolly Hauksdottir – a free-lance animator who did work for Sierra – from science fiction conventions and filksinging. I got my first professional programming job because my father mentioned that I was studying programming to Gus German, head of Geac Computers.

Decisions are made by people, not computers. Get to know people and you will find opportunities opening for you. More importantly, you’ll find your life is richer for having friends and acquaintances who share some of your interests.

Have a Plan, but Not a Straightjacket

“Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” – Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Decide what you want to do and where you want to go… but stay flexible.

It’s hard to hit the target if you don’t aim. One of the exercises we did in Lifespring training a few years ago was called, “What do you want?” It challenged us to examine our lives and goals and ask ourselves, “What do we really want?” Until you answer that question, any achievements you accomplish will be random ones. Make a plan; have a goal.

However, life isn’t static. Sometimes circumstances change, and sometimes you change. You should re-examine your goals every year. Ask yourself what progress you’ve made towards them. If you haven’t made any, ask yourself, “Why not?” Is it that you were never really committed to the goal? Do you really still believe in it? This isn’t a time to give up because your goal is too hard, but it is a time to “examine your premises.” You may find that your plan was really someone else’s. Or it could be the opposite – You might have been living your life by someone else’s standards instead of your own. Check your premises, but don’t use that as an excuse for giving up on something you really do care about.

Grab the Brass Ring

Keep your eyes open. Recognize opportunities when they arrive and GRAB them.

The Brass RingWay back when, there were places called “amusement parks.” They had rides such as ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds (aka carousels). You might still find them at County fairs. For young children and old people, a carousel was a nice calm ride around in a circle. But for more adventurous sorts, there was the Quest for the Brass Ring.

If you sat (or stood) on the outside and timed your leap just right, you could grab a ring from a dispenser outside the carousel. Most of the rings were iron, but one was made of brass. If you managed to grab the brass ring, you could turn it in for a free ride. Not much of a prize, perhaps, but definitely an Achievement.

Life is like a carousel ride. You can quietly ride along and take what comes to you, or you can reach out and try to grab the rings. It’s riskier; you might fall off and bruise your ego. But if you never take that risk, you’re unlikely to achieve a lot. And the more you try, the better chance you have of coming away with the Brass Ring, and that’s a real prize. I mentioned in the last article that Lori and I got the chance to make Quest for Glory only because we took the chance when it came to us. Our lives might have been more comfortable if we had stayed in San Jose, but they certainly wouldn’t have been as exciting!

If You Stop Swimming Halfway, You Drown

Whatever task you take on, commit yourself fully to doing it well. Put in the time, effort, and leadership to make it happen and make it great.

One of the things we noticed when we first started working in the game industry was that everyone has “great ideas” for games, but very few of them can actually take their ideas and make them into great games. Famous authors often hear fans say, “I have this great idea for a story and I want to collaborate on it with you. I’ll provide the ideas and you write the story.”

Guess what? Authors and game designers have ideas too. The difference is that they’re the ones pouring out the sweat and blood to turn them into stories and games. Finishing a game – or any big project – is far more difficult than starting it. That’s because to really be finished, all the i’s have to be dotted and all the t’s have to be crossed. You have to fix all the nagging bugs or sloppy writing, and that takes ten times as long as the initial writing.

This Isn’t All About You

Help others to do great work as well. Be a mentor to those who need it.

Games and other software products are made by increasingly-large teams for a reason. There are a lot of different responsibilities, and nobody can handle them all. If you are leading a team – or working on one – you need to respect the needs of everyone else on the team. If anyone on the team is having trouble, that’s trouble for the whole team. Take the time to make sure everyone has the tools and inspiration they need. Treat their problems as your own.

That doesn’t mean you have to do everybody else’s work. In fact, trying to do that is a recipe for an ulcer and shows a lack of respect for your teammates. What you can do is help make their jobs easier. When the programmers at my first job had to pull an all-nighter to make a deadline, the VP of Marketing went out to the army surplus store and came back with foam mattresses, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and clean socks. Midnight snacks were also involved. He took on a task most executives would consider “beneath them” in order to help the rest of the team do things that he could not do himself.

Look, Listen, and Learn

Listen and learn from the people who can make you do better work. Don’t be arrogant.

I’ve met two kinds of managers. One type says, in effect, “I am in charge. I have the authority. You do what I tell you.” The other type thinks differently, “I am a resource to help you do your jobs well. I make decisions because that’s efficient, but I make them based on your input.” Guess which type creates better products and has a happier, more productive team?

Lori and I knew where we wanted to go with Quest for Glory and Castle of Dr. Brain, but we also knew that the developers had a lot of expertise in many areas. Our artists and musicians knew how to make a game look and sound beautiful. They also knew a lot of tricks for working around the limitations of 16-color computer graphics and trying to fit everything on floppy disks. Our programmers had made other Sierra games before. They knew much more than we did about the processes for building games efficiently and the art of making them play smoothly.

We discussed our ideas with the team and worked out compromises that could actually be implemented. In the course of that, Lori and I learned a lot of techniques we were able to use in the later games. Even the feel of the games was as much from the developers who put them together with us as it was from the game designs. I don’t think I wrote the first pun in Quest for Glory 1. Bob Fischbach, one of the programmers, had that honor. Once Lori and I gave it our stamp of approval, we ran with it, and the game many of you played resulted from that collaboration.

The Magnificent Seven

These seven ideas are not the only approach to achievement and success, but we think they’re a good start. Give them a try and see what new achievements you can make in your life. Life is not an easy game, but it can be a fun one if you use the right strategies.

How to Be a Real-Life Hero

Friday, February 20th, 2009

As we’ve looked at some of the school-wide assignments on “Why I Am A Hero” and “Who Am I?” we’ve noticed a common thread. Many of our students start out by saying, “Well, I’m not really a hero yet. I’m hoping the school will help me become one.” That’s pretty reasonable; you sign up for a school because you expect to learn something.

Merely Slaying Dragons?But what is a Hero, really? Do Heroes start out as exceptional people and do extraordinary things because they’re unlike the rest of us? We think Heroes are made, not born, and we also don’t think that there are just two types of people in the world – Heroes and non-Heroes. We believe that everyone has many opportunities to do Heroic things, and that you are a Hero whenever you take such an action.

So the quick answer is, “Anyone can become a Hero.” You just have to care enough to work at it – to do Heroic Deeds and to prepare yourself to be able to do them.

Lessons from Role-Playing Games

There’s an interesting tradition in both live and computer role-playing games that you rarely see in any other genre. When you start an RPG, you are not a powerful Hero. Instead, you start out as a wet-behind-the-ears “first level” wannabe adventurer. We used this technique in Quest for Glory, and you could say that we wouldn’t have a true RPG without it.

An RPG character may have the destiny to become a Hero, but it never comes easily. He has to work, train, and face increasingly difficult odds to fulfill that destiny. This is also the real-life lesson in the book Mindset (reviewed in the Quest Log at A Time for Change). No matter how smart, how athletic, how heroic you are by nature, you have to commit to your goals and work hard at them to accomplish anything really important and meaningful.

You become a Hero one step at a time. Your journey to Heroism might begin by playing games or reading inspirational tales. It might start with a single small unselfish deed. Maybe you helped an old person cross the street or by helping a friend with her homework. Perhaps you volunteered to work with learning-challenged people in your community or just dropped a quarter into a charity collection box. Maybe you concentrated on your work to get a task done on time so that your co-workers could get their jobs done more easily.

All the little “good deeds” we do can add up to big positive changes in the world. Creating change takes commitment, and it takes work, but both of those get easier the more times you do them. And don’t think your work is meaningless because you’re just one small individual. Think about this Starbucks Story:

Paying It Forward

A customer waiting in line at a Starbucks drive-through got impatient and started honking when the driver in front of him seemed to be taking too long. Instead of responding in kind, the “slow” driver asked the clerk how much the next customer’s order cost. Then he paid for both orders and drove off. When the angry driver arrived, the barista told him the previous customer had paid for his order.

Shocked and embarrassed, the formerly-angry driver smiled and asked if he could pay for the next customer’s order. The chain continued all day and people found they were really happy about the unexpected generosity of the drivers ahead of them… and even happier at the opportunity to do the same thing for the next customer.

That’s a pretty amazing change in the lives of that community that one person brought about for about $4… and a Heroic attitude. That same story has been repeated over and over in many different cities. It only takes one person to start the chain, and it doesn’t get broken very often. Every one of us has that power!

I first encountered the expression “Pay it forward” in an article about a generous science fiction author. He helped out a young fan who expressed doubt about being able to pay him back and he said, “That’s all right. Many people have been generous to me when I needed it. Don’t try to pay me back. Pay it forward when you can afford it and find someone else who could use your help.” It’s a very powerful concept.

Not Just for Paladins

School Symbol When I mention “doing good deeds”, “generosity”, and “helping people,” your first thought might be, “That’s fine for Paladins, but what about us Wizards, Rogues, Warriors, and Bards?”

Well, first of all, generosity and good deeds have no class. The hallmark of a Hero is to see a task that needs to be done and do it, even if he has to sacrifice something. That “sacrifice” might be a few dollars, a few minutes of your time, or writing a blog article when you’d rather be playing World of Warcraft, but that’s what differentiates Heroism from “just doing things.” You make that commitment, take that step, do the preparation, and do the deed because you know it needs to be done. Every time you sacrifice a little to do something important, you are “paying forward” and making a positive change in the world.

Of course, acts of charity are not the only ways to be Heroic. Corey became a programmer for an interesting reason. Sure, it was fun and intellectually challenging, but those weren’t it. It was the late 1960’s and we were embroiled in the Vietnam War. Cold-war tensions ran high and a nuclear war seemed almost inevitable. I had a vision of becoming a key team member on a team developing software for nuclear installations. One day the President would push the red button to launch a full-scale nuclear attack… and nothing would happen. Yes, it’s true – I became a programmer so that I could write buggy software.

As it happens, I didn’t end up going to work for the military, and I suspect they would have found a way to misuse my bad code. Instead, I joined Lori in approaching that same goal by spreading messages of peace and heroism through our games. It took a lot more work for a lot less pay, but will probably be more effective in the long run.

R&D (Research and Development) is one possible path to Heroism. In the Hero test, there is a question about discovering a cure for leukemia. That’s one way a Wizard can make an incredible positive change through Discovery. Barack Obama is the epitome of the Warrior Hero – fighting for change through leadership. By the way, it doesn’t matter in the least whether you agree with his beliefs or policies. The point is that he believes in them and has done a tremendous amount of work to put himself in the position to bring them about. That’s what being a Warrior Hero is about.

Rogue heroes bring about change through trickery and misdirection. Had I stayed with my original military sabotage plan, that would have been a Roguish Heroic Deed. A Rogue in Santa Cruz objected to fines for minor parking violations, so he put on a clown suit and walked around the downtown streets with a bag of nickels. He fed the expired meters just before the police could ticket the cars there. Eventually he was arrested and told to stop… so he did it again. An appeals court determined that he had not broken any law and the city had to pay all court costs. That is the power of a Rogue Hero in action!

As for Bards, they have long been forces for social change. Songs, chants, and newspaper articles did more to bring about the end of the Vietnam War than I could ever have accomplished through sloppy code. You just have to choose where you need to take a stand, then tell the tales that move others to join you. When we write these articles and run the School, we are taking on the roles of Bardic Heroes.

We Can All Be Heroes

Nobody will open a proclamation and declare you to be a Hero… unless it happens long after you have already become one. Heroism is a habit. You get there one small action and one tiny inspiration at a time. Everything Heroic you do makes you a little more of a Hero. But there is no magical moment when you Become a Hero. You simply are a Hero each and every time you use your time and resources to do something difficult that Needs to be Done.

If you are faced with a challenge that seems impossible, don’t despair. Find a tiny piece of it that you know how to do. Take the time to learn how to do some other small piece. Just as a huge software or construction project is made up of tens of thousands of little pieces, so is every great and worthwhile task. When Heroes commit to getting things done, they soon find that others will follow and help. Everyone wants to do things that matter; they just need to be shown that they can be done.

Be a Hero. Do deeds worth doing. Find out how you can lead, how you can help, what you can discover, the changes that need to be made, and what tales you can tell that will make this world a better place.

 

Goethe Quote

Hearts and Heroes

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

February 14 is Valentine’s Day. Cards and flowers, chocolate and everything pink; love is in the Air! But what is Love, and what does it have to do with Heroism?

Heart AttackWhen I was in grade school, we made Valentine’s Cards for everyone in class so that nobody would feel left out. If you love everybody, do you really Love anyone?

The Greeks had five words for love – Eros – passionate, sensual love; Philia – love, respect, and brotherhood with your neighbors and family; Agape – having a close connection with everyone around you, the New Testament Biblical love; Storge – affection for your family; and Thelema – desire for status, possessions, or accomplishment.

Love, Lust, and Longing

“Love Ain’t Nothin’ But Sex Misspelled” – Harlan Ellison

Thelema was popularized by Aleister Crowley in the early 1900’s. Crowley translated Thelema as “Will” and made it the keystone of his system of Magic – “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” Crowley was renowned for his dissipated lifestyle of sex and drugs. He believed in Lust, but not particularly in Love.

Still, Crowley made some good points. Much of the time, “I love you” translates as “I want to have sex with you”; or “Let’s go make love,” when there is already a sexual relationship. Much of the ritual of Valentine’s Day, and “courtship” in general, is about trying to establish or strengthen a sensual, sexual relationship. I’m not quite sure about the symbolic grade school orgies implied by kids giving cards to everyone else in the class; I guess it’s actually practice in overcoming shyness in approaching other people… or maybe camouflage for the real relationships that actually go on there. As a kid, I had no clue.

“Dating” has changed a lot over the years, at least the way I see it. “Asking someone out” has always had the sensual, Eros component, but it wasn’t necessarily strictly about sex. You did things together, had a nice meal, watched a movie, or went to the park together to establish a bond of connection and mutual affection, a strengthened Agape. In time, perhaps it would strengthen to Eros, but it was built first on friendship. Advice columns used to be full of questions such as, “Is it ok to kiss on the first date?” I think the usual advice was to wait until at least the third. For women in particular, the advice was to keep a man waiting and wanting more.

Today, dating is a lot different. The “friendship date” is almost non-existent; instead, young people generally go out with a group of friends to do fun activities. They build the same sort of bonds, but it’s with several people, not an exclusive “someone”. When a sensual connection with one person develops, most people skip the long “courtship” stage and move directly into a sexual relationship. “Susan and Dave are dating” usually means they’re sleeping together (or not getting much sleep!) these days.

This isn’t as new as we might think. If anything, the ideas of courtship and romantic love are fairly recent developments – basically, since the early Renaissance. In the Middle Ages, it was often a requirement that a woman “prove herself” by becoming pregnant before she could get married. Many marriages were arranged; sex and friendship were not necessarily thought to be related. The association of Saint Valentine with the idea of romantic love began with Geoffrey Chaucer and other romanticists in the 1300’s.

Hearts? Heroes? What’s Love Got to Do With It?

“What’s Love Got to Do With It?” – Tina Turner

This may all seem unrelated to the ideals of Heroism, but there is actually a strong connection. The romantic ideals of the 14th Century were closely tied to the burgeoning concepts of chivalry. Women were no longer to be treated as chattels (as they had been through most of “civilized” history), but honored, respected, and loved. Knights went to the field of battle carrying the favors (love tokens) of their Ladies and went on great quests to earn favor with fair maidens. While women still held no property in their own name, they had increasing privileges with regard to family possessions and estates.

To be a Hero means to respect men, women, and children of all races and religions. Courtesy and chivalry are part of it. Philia-style Love is another important part. Treating everyone as an individual, and relating to each person on his or her individual merits, is the Heroic way to relate to the people around you. A Hero does not make assumptions about someone just because of race, gender, nationality, or other “group affiliation.” Heroism is person-to-person, one at a time.

When it comes to romantic love, Heroes build relationships based on their partners’ needs first, on their own desires second. Fortunately, the nice thing about love is that the more you give, the more you receive in return. Read “The Gift of the Magi,” by O. Henry, for an amusing and touching take on this. If you just try to “take”, you will very soon find your hands – and your arms – empty. Love is about giving, and so is Valentine’s Day.

Love – A Gift That Keeps On Giving

“Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.”
– Dorothy Parker

When we think of Valentine’s Day, we think of gifts, but that’s where the resemblance to Christmas ends. A Valentine card or gift is a very personal present between people who really care about, and are close to each other. They could be lovers or friends looking for a closer friendship.

A Valentine gift is usually something small, but romantic. Flowers and chocolates are always popular. The gift might not be material – A handwritten “gift certificate” for hugs, massages, or (our favorite) D&D sessions can be more appreciated than any physical gift. Cadillacs work too. If you give a physical gift, make sure you include a card with a personal, handwritten message. The gift isn’t really the point; it’s the presentation, the effort you put into choosing it, and the romantic thought behind it that matter.

The point to a Valentine’s Day gift isn’t that it is a bribe to buy your friend’s favor. It is a freely-given present because you care about the other person and want to share something special with her or him. If you are “just friends,” sometimes a Valentine card suggests that you would like a closer relationship; just be careful not to read too much into it. If someone gives you a Cadillac, though, you can probably expect an invitation to the back seat soon after.

A Gift of Gaming?

If you and your loved one are gamers, why not share the gift of gaming? We usually spend our Valentine’s Day (or close enough to it) at DunDraCon, the longest-running role-playing game convention. We don’t actually see much of the convention (although we usually participate in some of the seminars), preferring to spend most of the weekend romantically in our hotel room… along with a half-dozen of our closest gaming friends.

Lori has run several “love-based” RP scenarios at these weekends. In one of them, we had to escort a young Prince to meet the Princess he was destined to marry. Keeping him alive through the journey was only half the problem. Once we got there, we could see that the two were not really meant for each other. The princess was already in love – with a frog (okay, so he was an enchanted frog). Fortunately, our prince fell in love with the princess’s sister, and the frog turned out to be yet another prince – so all’s well that end’s well and they all lived happily ever after. (Or would, if this were a fairy tale… but as a campaign world, well, who knows what will happen next?)

This weekend, we’re all set to do it again, and Valentine’s Day falls on Saturday. I guess that means we should have a Saturnalia. Or maybe just a Sauterne with supper. (Ok, I’m stretching; neither of us drinks… wine.) We’ve been a little too busy lately to think too much about what games we’ll be running, but it’s likely that love will lead the way. Of course, just being there is almost enough – Lori and I met over a D&D table at a convention, so that will always be part of our relationship.

As for sex and D&D, check out Phil Foglio’s What’s New comic strip, in which “Sex and D&D” was a frequent theme when it ran in Dragon Magazine, but it was never quite actually addressed. Eventually, even Phil and his wife Kaja got tired of all the teaser strips and came out with their own X-rated graphic novel series. We’ll leave finding that as an exercise for the adult reader.

Heart and Sole

This Saturday, do something special with the one you love. Go for a long walk together – It’s good for the heart, if a bit wearing on your soles. If you have no one to love right now, love yourself. Think about all the things that make you a valuable, lovable person and indulge yourself just for a day. Learning to love yourself is a vital part of learning to love others.

Get a balloon; visit a place (nearby or far away) where you’ve never been. See the world through new eyes. It’s ok to enjoy a little chocolate while you’re at it. Just don’t overindulge; save that for Easter. Smile a lot; it will make others happier and you’ll probably see a lot of smiles in return. Feel the love!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you from Corey, Lori, Moira, Silvia, Lorenzo, Mombero, Master Dragon, Mrs. E. Gulch, and of course The Famous Adventurer!

 

Tugging at the Heartstrings

The Rogue – Hero on the Ropes

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Rogue Ninja Meep - FailOf all the classes that we don’t have at The School for Heroes, the Rogue is the most controversial. More commonly thought of as “criminal” – or at least slightly “naughty” – than as “hero”, Rogues often have a difficult public relations task. And that’s why there are No Rogues in The School for Heroes… that we admit to.

Some famous Rogue Heroes include James Bond, Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and Robin Hood. Note that we only listed fictional ones. The real ones are too good at disguising their Roguishness. African and Native American mythology prominently feature “trickster gods” (Anansi the spider and Coyote) in devious roles. In the old Greek stories, Prometheus was a Rogue when he stole fire from the gods and gave it to man. So Rogues have been around for a long, long time.

So why don’t you hear anything about the virtues of Rogues. Maybe they just don’t want you to know. If they told you, they’d have to kill you.

Rogue? Hero? What?

Rogues know that when you do things “by the book,” you get mediocre results. They strive for exceptional results by breaking the book, tearing out the pages, and using them for something more practical, like ransom notes or toilet paper. They tend to do things indirectly, because direct action is too easily countered. And boring. Rogues have a problem with boredom.

Heroic Rogues go a step farther. They may break the rules – or even laws they consider stupid – but they always have a Heroic goal in mind. Spiderman isn’t concerned with reading criminals their Miranda Rights. He leaves that to the authorities… and stays away from those authorities himself.

Rogues are clever. They come up with original solutions to problems. More importantly, they respond quickly and will change their plans if things go wrong. In “Stone Soup,” a old Brothers Grimm fairy tale, there is the tale of three hungry travelers who wander into a strange village. The villagers are suspicious and leery of the strangers. However, the travelers convince the villagers that they are making a delicious soup out of nothing but water and stones, but that it just needs a little flavoring to be perfect. One by one, the villagers supply all the rest of the soup ingredients, and everyone has a wonderful feast together. The travelers are Rogues, but not bad people. In the end, everyone benefits from their charade. They are trickster heroes.

Rogues “live on the edge”, always in danger, so they learn ways to avoid the public spotlight and get out of trouble. That last attribute is one of the main traits that separate Rogues from Bards – Bards love the spotlight and feel safer in the light than in the shadows. Rogues love shadows.

Rogues are also surprisingly good listeners. They’ll listen at keyholes, at parties, or tap your phone line. . . (Well, maybe “good” listener isn’t the right word there.)

Trials of a Trickster

Rogues tend to be connivers, tricksters, and willing to flout any rule or law that gets in their way. That makes it very tempting for a Rogue to go from a clever solver-of-problems to a dirty, rotten scoundrel. And nobody likes a dirty, rotten scoundrel.

Rogues sometimes have trouble in social settings because they are so independent by nature. It’s easy for Rogues to become cynical and think that others are trying to take advantage of them. This is useful in business relationships, but tends to get in the way of real friendships. Rogues need to learn to separate professional paranoia from the need for trust in a relationship. Friends frown when they catch you reading their email.

Rogues, like Warriors, tend to be arrogant. They think they can get away with anything because they’ve managed just that in the past. Well, just as spies and Old West gunfighters tended to have short lives, so do Rogues that try to get away with too much, too often. Rogues have to decide when the payoffs justify sticking their necks out. If they choose poorly, the noose awaits. And, as we all know, no noose is good noose.

A Hard Way to Be a Hero

Yes, Rogues can be Heroes, but it isn’t an easy journey. They walk a treacherous tightrope of temptation above a ravening pack of pit bulls. Rogue Heroes must keep their feet on the path of the Greater Good. One false step, and they are destined to be doggie doo-doo.

Rogues have many talents they can use to do good. Because they don’t care if they get credit for their deeds, they can use others as their “front men” by convincing them that the Rogue’s plan is their own. They can find ways to help others when bureaucracies get in the way. And they can out-con the con-men.

All Rogues know that the End justifies the Means; the goal is to succeed. Rogue Heroes know which Ends are worth justifying. Remember, there’s no justice, there’s just us. So make your sneaky plans for your Roguish Good Deeds. We’re on to you, Rogue Hero, and you’re going to have to be awfully clever to be a Hero without getting caught at it!

 

Rogue

New Year’s Heroes

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Happy New Year from All of Us

New Year’s Eve, a time notorious for two things – wild drunken parties and futile resolutions that are soon broken.

Most people make a New Year’s Resolution to fix mistakes made in the old year. So should we start off the New Year by thinking of all our flaws and the things we need to do better? That’s about as useful and enjoyable as a New Year’s Day hangover – or a drunken Meep.

Instead of concentrating upon how many pounds of fat we need to lose or promising ourselves that we will catch the Gremlins before they get into the computer system again, let’s try something different. Don’t dwell on past mistakes and try to fix them with depressing New Year’s Resolutions. This time. let’s focus on a better future with – ta-da! – New Year Commitments.

Happy New Year from All of Us

Um, So What’s the Difference?

Resolutions focus on what we Need to do – Commitments focus on what we Want to do. Here is a list of our New Year’s Commitments:

  • Every Day an Adventure
  • Life is a Journey
  • Git’er Done
  • Time Enough for Love
  • It Had to be You

Every Day an Adventure

What are you doing today that you have never done before? What have you learned that you never knew? What are you doing differently?
This is a commitment Lori made a long time ago, but it’s always good to re-assert older promises and keep them on track. This one is all about treating each day as an opportunity for exploration and growth.

Life is A Journey – So Where are We Going?

You can’t get where you want to go if you don’t know where you are going. We need to set goals for ourselves. We need to make our own roadmap to the future. If we don’t, the future will be here before we know it and we’ll be run over by it.

Git’er Done

As semi-professional Procrastinators, this one is a hard one for us. We’re experts of thinking of all the things we need to do, getting overwhelmed by them, and then going on to do something else. However, to take a tip from David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” book – if it takes less than two minutes to do – Just Do It! Okay, so Corey says nothing gets done in two minutes, so we’ll stretch it to ten. The point is that putting things off is actually harder than getting things done. The weight of every task put off is the equivalent of carrying around a sack of five Meeps – five struggling Meeps.

Time Enough for Love

In Heinlein’s book, “Time Enough for Love”, Lazurus Long recounts his life and loves of 2300 years. We don’t all have 2300 years (and neither did Heinlein) so we have to remember every day to think about the people you love. Hug your mate… or your parents. Let them know you care. Do some small thing they’ll appreciate. Got a dog? How about taking it for a romp in the yard. Got a cat? How about taking time to give it a skritch under the chin or a string dragged across a floor? Stuck at work? Help someone else with their job. Invite a co-worker to join you for lunch. After all, Love is a tower built from the sum of all the happiness you have with others. Go ahead and build it higher – Just make sure you invite your loved ones to share it with you.

It Had to Be You

You are the one stuck with living your own life. Don’t let it all slip past you as you drift along through your day to day routines. Take time every day to do the things you love to do. Take the time to do the things you want to do. Take the time to do the things you know you need to do. Nobody else is going to do them for you.

Happy New Year from All of Us

Commitments for a Better New Year

None of these Commitments are life-altering or even mind-altering. These are the sort of things we can all do automatically as part of our habits of Heroism. We need the bricks and mortar of new ideas, vision, dedication, love, and joy to build a better future. So from all of us here at the School for Heroes – Happy New Year!”

 

Dawn of Peace

All Hallows Heroes

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Trick or Meep?It’s Halloween – A night of ghosts and shadows, of goblins, witches, and demons, of things that go bump in the night. The wind howls through the trees as the nights begin to turn cold, and the trees shed their Autumn leaves. Little children brave the darkness and scary monsters to go door to door in masks and costumes. In trembling voices, they call out, “Trick or Treat!” and hope they won’t be tricked.

One of our favorite stories comes from a Halloween special episode of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon show. The main villain of the show is a rich old man who has always hated Halloween and comes up with a scheme to end it forever. To do this, he needs a piece of the Ghostbusters’ equipment to power his device. They refuse to give it to him because they believe in Halloween. As the villain ponders this setback, he thinks, “I need that part. I could steal it, but stealing is wrong. But I need it… Oh well, so much for that moral dilemma!” Seconds later, the part is in his hand.

A Time for Heroes

Is it a coincidence that we opened The School for Heroes at midnight on Halloween, October 31? Perhaps it was. It is also probably a coincidence that the United States is holding a critical Presidential election just a few days after Halloween. Or are they both a sign of the times we live in?

Why is this such an important time? The last ten years have shown us some results of non-heroic, “somebody else’s business” attitudes. Within a single decade, we’ve seen the Enron scandal, a stock market collapse, and a real estate market collapse. We’ve seen terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and torture and other atrocities in the name of “national security.” The common thread between these events is that people acted out of irrational fear and short-term greed. They ignored the terrible consequences of their actions. They lost sight of the Greater Good. These people are villains. “Oh well, so much for those moral dilemmas!”

Heroes are very important in dark times and when ghosts and ghouls threaten to rule the land. Someone needs to stand in front of the gates of Hell, silver cross and holy water in hand, to face whatever might come forth. We have a lot of real monsters in our world – war, famine, poverty, pollution and the people who profit from them. We need to stand up and confront the monsters and their minions. We need to be Heroes.

The Call to Action

It is never easy to be a Hero, but the world needs us. It needs us now. Will you step up to that challenge? One way is to take the What Kind of Hero Are You? test and join our hero’s quest. No matter what path you choose, it is time to make a difference. Vote in your next election. Speak out against tyranny, terror, and war. Help clean up your neighborhood. Stand up against the darkness and the scary monsters. Hey, if little children can do it, so can we!

Trick or Meep?