Kevin Tappern

The Hidden Hero

13th February 2022


As a young child I’m sure you got asked the question. Who do you want to be when you grow up? At that time for me, it was the Ultimate Warrior, Bret the Hitman Hart, the British Bulldog. Yes, I’m a huge wrestling fan. Yes, even to this day, in my mid-thirties, and yes of course it’s real. Durgh!!

We always had someone we wanted to inspire to be. We’d idealise all the traits in the hope we could hopefully become like them one day.

As we grow older, new questions are thrown in. Who was your hero? Who inspired you? Who inspires you now? All excellent questions. Thought provoking enough you really put in the energy to think of the perfect person who inspired. Still inspires. Perhaps it was a parent, a sibling, a friend. Perhaps further afield, like a sports star, movie star, business entrepreneur. Though I bet some of you haven’t considered the hidden hero who’s been closest to you the whole time.

What defines a hero?

Everyone has their own take on what characteristics a hero has. I’m sure in that list is:

  • Brave
  • Strong
  • Courageous
  • Selfless
  • Someone who inspires good

Just a few examples, but perfectly apt. I’m sure your inspiration, your hero has all of these qualities. Though, there’s one hero you know personally that holds all the traits of a hero you could ever think of. The hidden hero. You!

under the mask

You’re past self

I remember hearing the same usual questions again a few weeks back. Who was your inspiration, your hero? At the time I genuinely couldn’t think of anyone. That’s not to say there wasn’t, but my mind just went blank. It was only while scrolling randomly through YouTube (we’ve all done it), that I came across Matthew McConaughey’s 2014 Oscar winning speech that got me truly thinking about my answer. He makes reference about who he looks up to, and I’ll get to that, because it’s perfect. It did also make me look back in the other direction too.

I know we shouldn’t always look back in the past, but have we ever done it just to say thanks? For me, it’s my past self. That’s my hero. I’m not saying this to sound arrogant or big headed. If it wasn’t for my past-self putting in all the work, I wouldn’t be the person I’m proud to be today.

Looking back at my past self, recovering from surgery. Barely able to walk but I tried every day to go further. Barely able to keep myself together mentally but I tried, even though I had no idea how my life was going to be. Going for my blackbelt being absolutely spent halfway through but still giving everything, I could. Then later in life, choosing to change careers into a brand-new calling. Why is this important? Because each time the past version of myself had been working to build a better today for himself. A happier, more rewarding today, and therefore a more fulfilling future to look forward to. I don’t know about you but that guy showed all the traits of a hero, and I’m so thankful that guy kept going and going and going.

Now, I encourage you to take the time to look back. Not solely at the bad days themselves, but how you chose to react on those bad days. Through the trauma of loss, heartbreak, injury, sorrow, sadness. Even if it took days, weeks, months. You hung in there and moved forward when you perhaps didn’t think it was going to be possible. You kept moving on the days where you really wanted to rest. You gave love and smiled to others, even when you didn’t feel it in yourself. You stopped playing the victim, letting others hold you down and started living for yourself. Then, after every further setback, you kept fighting back.

Each of these times you were building yourself up block by block. Building yourself up to the person you are today. Be inspired by their bravery, their courage and their strength. They helped build a better today for you.

Who do you look up to now?

Going back to the Oscar speech. Matthew McConaughey said the person that he looks up to most is himself in five years, then himself again five years after that. I thought it painted a very beautiful picture. In my personal opinion, every day we should be striving to be the best version of ourselves, and then push to be even more.

I found journaling perfect for this. Sitting down with pen and paper and answering the questions. Who do I want to be (your perfect self)? How do I want to be behaving? How can I give back? What do I want to achieve? What will this all give me? And what will my life look like after this?

By getting clear on these answers, it gives you a great visualisation of what your future looks like. An ideal you to strive towards. Chasing the goals and achieving the rewards that ultimately makes life so fulfilling. You might find these sparks creative ideas for your career, or perhaps want to start something completely different. It could bring amazing ideas for new hobbies, or how to start improving at current ones.

Deep down I believe we all strive to become someone we’re proud to be. Going out with no regrets. So, I agree. The person I look up to most is my future self, because I know he’s reaping the rewards for the work im doing now and then transcending them further. Besides, I think we owe it to the hidden hero of the past to keep going and striving to be our best and joyful self. Don’t take all the brave work they did for granted. We owe it to them to keep moving forward. To keep the momentum of building better todays.

My nugget

All I can say is when you have moments of reflection of how you got to where you are today. Take a brief moment just to look back and thank yourself. Your hidden hero of the past. Even if it didn’t feel like it at the time, they pulled through in those rough times. Through their strength and courage, they have subtly provided you with the tools to keep pulling yourself through when things feel just a little bit crappy, and appreciate those great times a little bit more.

Have a great today!

I’d love to hear from you!