Every now and then when I want to feel inspired I visit ted.com. Other times I visit because I want to be reassured that the human race is special and beautiful after I've just been shocked again by what horrors some people manage to do to others.
This time around, I visited TED for all of the above reasons. And it didn't let me down. I found the presentation by Majora Carter and in the 18 or so minutes of her talk I had tears streaming down my face on several occasions.
Her message was about building a Sustainable South Bronx. The organisation's, aptly called SSBX, mission statements strives for ‘Environmental Justice through innovative, economically sustainable projects that are informed by community needs’. Listening to her presentation and visiting the website of her organisation are definitely worth doing.
I want to focus on the person this time rather than her message. At the same time I am certainly not wishing to take anything away from the importance of her message. It was just interesting to also observe her as a person rather than only spend time on the quest that she is on.
What really made me pause was the thought that came to me that I would classify her as a hero. And it doesn't matter in this instance what she is fighting for. What was it about her presentation which made me, after 18 minutes, decide she was a hero? What are the characteristics of a hero or a Superman so to speak, or Superwoman!
It certainly is not the importance of the quest that determines a hero. There are some heroes that have small quests that might just involve helping one or two people. For instance a person who pulls another human out of a burning car or house. This person is definitely a hero.
The size of the quest is not the determining factor. In Dr Majora Carter's case, she is a hero to me because she feels, breathes, sobs, explains her quest with such heart felt emotions that the listener cannot avoid getting involved in the moment.
She could be trying to inspire her audience to support the spotted penguins in outer Mongolia, it wouldn't matter. She would have had the same standing ovation from her audience. I would have shed the same amount of tears.
What then makes a hero, and could these attributes be present in the top leaders whether those in public office or in commerce? This is a subject that has been written about ad nauseam and is a big issue in MBA's. It is always felt that leadership determines the success or otherwise of an organisation.
It could be that heroes, and leaders, are those that are so passionate about their vision, or their quest, that they inspire others to follow them in their life's task. They don't necessarily need to be intelligent, or have a hugely worthy cause or even have a great strategy worked out.
What it boils down to then is that it's their energy and personal vibration that inspires us. We feel alive when we are in their presence, or even watching a video of them speaking which was taken a while back. We feel that here is something worthwhile for us to live for after all.
So I ask myself how come so few people have this passion. What if we could teach people how to acquire that passion rather than feed off other people who have it? After all, the people that vicariously live off other people's passion tend to face a real problem when that person is no longer around.
Is this not the reason why the self-help industry is unsuccessful in the long run. The motivational speakers and writers of self-development books are able to inspire people during the contact period whether that is during all week-end workshops, during the listening time of CDs or the reading of books.
But once that is over, the passion soon dies away. Now if somebody could come up with a way to light a permanent fire in people that doesn't require somebody to constantly fan it, that would be something! The world could do with more heroes.
Anja Merret lives in Brighton, UK, having moved across from South Africa just over a year ago
She now looks after the business interests of her daughter who is a Flash Developer and Accessibility expert. She started a blog at the beginning of the year under the heading of chatting to my generation. Although she is chatting to the baby boomer generation, she sometimes feels that all generations have the same issues to face, they just don't have hearing aids or walking sticks!
One of her pet peeves is the war in Iraq and in fact anything that causes innocent people to get hurt. But she also loves tech stuff, although only as an amateur. She considers herself a Silver Surfer Gadget Geek. She is even considering queuing for an iPhone in the UK later on in the year. But her daughter has offered, so she will only be taking hot food to the Brighton Geeks waiting in line
Her musings may be found on http://www.anjamerret.com . Her observations on personal power and self-development may be found on http://www.pinkblocks.com