5 Traits of a Hero

Heroic Living

How To IconBeing a hero is selflessly doing the best you can in a time of need. But there are things you can do to prepare yourself to take heroic action when the time is right. After studying the heroes on MoralHeroes.org you will find that almost all our heroes have all of the following five traits: education, compassion, networking, inspiration and sacrifice. Here’s what you can do to become a hero.

  • Educate Yourself – Learn about the world around you.
  • One thing you will notice about our heroes is that they value education. Often their interest in understanding the people and world around them involves earning degrees at universities. However, their learning also involves learning from the communities they live in, being open to hear the people around them as they share their needs and hopes.

    Heroic Examples:

    Paul Robeson – Studied law at Columbia Law School. He also traveled the world to learn about the common ties between cultures and to learn their languages.
    Jeannette Rankin – Studied Social Work and Social Legislation. She also learned much about others while listening and living with people in the slums of Boston.


  • Have Compassion – Practice loving others
  • The main difference between a hero and a villain is often their concern for others. Putting other’s needs before your own is humbling and requires conscious effort and delicate balance. The more you practice having compassion the better you will get. Start small by putting yourself in simple places to serve and keep your eyes open for greater opportunities.

    Heroic Examples:

    Abdul Sattar Edhi – Began taking care of his ailing mother, then others in his city. Now he takes care of millions of men, women and children across Pakistan.
    Irena Sendler – Began serving her local community as a Social Worker. After WWII began, she used her position and networks to gain access to the Warsaw Ghetto and began saving the lives of thousands of children.


  • Network – Become a leader at sharing ideas and dreams
  • Rarely does a hero accomplish anything significant alone. Even though many of the heroes on this website are featured independently, when you read their stories you will actually notice that all of them encouraged others to join their efforts. United, our heroes accomplished so much more than they would have if they tried alone. Strong communication and powerful friendships go a long way towards becoming a hero.

    Heroic Examples:

    Medgar Evers – Used his strong communication skills and charisma to unite his community of rural share croppers. Eventually, his networks grew and he became the NAACP’s first field secretary – lead organizer for the civil rights movement.
    Wangari Maathai – She united the women around her who suffered from rural unemployment and low self esteem. They formed the Greenbelt Movement which provided jobs involving reforestation and education.
    Farlis Calle – She networked with other youth in her city, then with youth from all over Columbia to form The Children’s Peace Movement. Together they inspired their nation and others around the globe.


  • Find Inspiration – Study your past heroes
  • All heroes learn from the wisdom of others. Often their inspiration comes from former heroes. Many times inspiration came from parents or wise mentors who encouraged them to be bold and take action. Learning from other’s successes and failures and being inspired by their efforts is necessary for remaining strong when life becomes challenging.

    Heroic Examples:

    Aung San Suu Kyi – Her father was the cherished General Aung San. She was inspired to continue his advocacy of democracy and freedom in Burma and continues his efforts to this day.
    Martin Luther King, Jr. – His inspiration came from his mentors as well as Jesus Christ and Gandhi. He even traveled to India to learn more from Gandhi’s friends and relatives.


  • Prepare to Sacrifice – A strong commitment often requires deep personal sacrifice.
  • The major difference between an altruistic person and hero is usually their conscious effort to give up something so that others can be better off. To be a hero you may have to risk losing your free time, social status, your economic advantage and wealth, your comfort or security, or even your life. You are going to have to give up something personal to achieve something greater. What makes a hero different than the average person is that they value their goal and are determined to reach it no matter what they must sacrifice.

    Heroic Examples:

    Shiva Nazar Ahari – She used her words to inspire freedom and change. But those same words cost her a chance to attend University and landed her in Jail. She has been arrested, jailed and beaten many times and still continues to sacrifice for those being denied human rights.
    Maximilian Kolbe – He started sacrificing in small ways, usually giving up comfort and wealth for the benefit of others. Eventually, he was willing to sacrifice his life so another man would be spared execution.



    By following these five steps you will prepare yourself to take action and to do the best you can when the time is right. We hope you take the time to read more about the heroes and find more heroes who exhibit these traits. We also hope that someday you will be one of our heroes!

    Written by | last updated on December 1st, 2012