How to be a hero.

If you think someday you may have to step-up and do the heroic thing, then let me share with you three things you need to know on how to be a hero.

While this is kind of a simple concept, it’s good to have a solid understanding before something bad happens.

Who we call “Heroes”

I don’t want to be casual about the language I use because it’s very important.

I’m reluctant to use the word “hero”, but I don’t think there’s another word that’s quite captures the concept.

“Leader” is one word that might work. Or maybe “champion”. But we’re not used to hearing those words used a lot.

Consider the circumstance when something bad happens, somebody steps forward and kind of “champions” the solution.

When I was in the military, we were trained to arrive on the scene and if you’re the one running it, you announce, “I am in charge at the scene”. But, what I’m talking about here is not so much “being in charge” (leader), but where you’re actually taking care of business by doing what others might describe as “heroic”.

Hero is probably the right word. I’m going to use it, in circumstances where someone acts heroic. It’s their behavior and not necessarily a definition of the person. It’s the classical behavior that sometimes is referred to as heroic. Let’s talk about that.

The reason this even comes up is because I’ve written a book on how to make a citizen’s arrest. It’s great stuff. Good information and some tactical, on the ground, important things to know. I’ve been there and done that. When bad things happen – and we’re not just talking about criminal bad guys and citizen’s arrest – but if there’s a fire. If there’s a medical emergency. Any of these types of situations where you think you might have to step up and do the “heroic” thing. That’s what I’m talking about here. And I’ve found, three things are required.

The Three Things

1. Ability

Number one, you need what I would call the skills or the abilities. You need the ability to take care of the situation.

For a medical emergency, have you had the training?
Do you know how to do CPR? Can you apply a tourniquet?
Do you know how to check someone’s breathing or to check for a pulse?
For a citizen’s arrest, do you know what to say?
For a fire, do you know how to use a fire extinguisher?

Having the skills or abilities is one of the three critical things you need if you’re going to step-up and take heroic action.

2. Willingness

Number two, you need a willingness to take action.

If you’re just not willing to step-up and use the skills and ability you have, that’s understandable. There’s no judgment. I get it! Things in the real world are uncertain and “uncertain” is scary. When something bad does happen, your mind goes to the million possibilities of what’s happening (in seconds!) and what can go wrong making things worse!

It’s good to consider the possible outcomes. If you don’t (or haven’t) ahead of time, your actions can easily cross over from heroic to reckless. And you will be held responsible for your actions.

One of the things that drives me up the wall are crime scene investigation shows on television where the investigators / crime scene technicians get one little piece of information and immediately draw the correct conclusion!

If they find a body with two different kinds of wounds because two different weapons were involved, they immediately “know” there were two different suspects. And in the show, sure enough, they’re correct. Well, no. No! In real life that’s not necessarily what it means. In real life, there are a million reasons for two different wounds or weapons and only one suspect.

Stop and think for a moment, especially in a desperate situation, of all the possible things could go wrong. Imagine a crime in progress. You see the bad guy. You’ve got the skills and abilities to apprehend him, run him off, or maybe, sometimes, just get a good witness statement. You have the skills and abilities to take action, but all of a sudden realize, you realize…

What if he’s not alone?
What if there’s a getaway driver?
What if there’s someone around the corner?
What if someone else here is his backup and just not making themselves known?

In the moments of an emergency, your mind will race with the possibilities of what can happen if you make one move or another. But this is not a game. There is no rest button. No do-overs.

You may not be willing to take the risk and do what some people, in hindsight, if it turns out well, will call heroic. And there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that!

After all, most of the time, the best thing to do for a crime in progress is nothing. If the bad guy just wants the money, the stuff, and to run away, is there really a good reason to interfere with that? I would say no.

3. Opportunity

The third thing is, do you have the opportunity to step up and do the heroic thing?

This is the one thing you have very little control over. Let me explain…

Take a step back (perspective) and look at life.  99.99% of the time, nothing bad is happening around you. There is no “opportunity” because there is no emergency situation.

You can spend a lifetime learning how to apply a tourniquet. But how often has that need come up in your life?

I know gun enthusiasts that love to go to the range and shoot for accuracy. Yet, you can live ten lifetimes and never need to draw a weapon in real life.

Martial arts, as wonderful as that is and I think it’s great for fitness, preparedness, confidence, and everything else, and I think you should have some martial arts skills, but you can practice your skills for a lifetime and never, in the real world, need to step up and use them because there’s not that opportunity.

Now, imagine you’re in a situation where you do have the skills, the willingness, and in a sense, there is opportunity right in the area where you are. In the room, in the store, in your church, something is happening. You still may not have the opportunity to do something about it because of “proximity”.

The person that you need to get to is too far away. Whatever you need to do, you don’t have the opportunity because you’re blocked in. In the event of a fire, you may have the skills to go in, the strength and the ability to pull somebody out, but there’s no opportunity. When it comes to the heat, flames, and smoke, if you haven’t been there, I’m not sure you can fully appreciate how bad that is. There’s just truly no opportunity. Yes, you’re right there, but you just can’t get to the person.

You don’t have a lot of control over opportunity. What you can do, to have some control over opportunity, is to make sure that when you’re seated at a restaurant, for example, you want to be near the exits or at least know where they are.

You can sit at church near a fire extinguisher. That type of thing. You’re increasing your odds of having the opportunity to help because you have easy quick access, for example, to that fire extinguisher if something goes wrong.

The Good News and Virtue

The really good news is we can live thousands and thousands of days where nothing bad happens. We can live years and years never have to step up to something that requires heroic action.

If you want to back out for a little more spiritual perspective on things, look at the single mom who goes to work everyday for years and years to support her kids. That is heroic.

She’s got the skills, she’s got the opportunity to help them, and she’s got the willingness.

The willingness is a tremendously heroic thing. There are a lot of things we can do in our life everyday that have heroic consequences but they’re not glamorous. Nobody calls you as a hero. Do you think anybody, when they describe a hero to me, is imagining that single parent trying to support their children, riding the bus for two hours to get to work because the car broker down and they can’t afford to get it repaired? That is heroic! That is true sacrifice even though it’s not the example of a hero we first think of.

What You Can Do to Prepare to be a Hero

Do you need the willingness part? Keep in mind, how you do anything is how you do everything.

If you’re willing to do the right thing every day in the small things, the painful things, the very unglamorous things, that does increase your odds of having the willingness, when the time comes that you will take heroic action.

Do you need the “ability” part of it? Watch videos. Read books. Get any training you think you need. I’m not pushing training here, but if you need training, no matter what it is, get the training so that you have the skills.


The ability is yours because you took the time, energy and effort to prepare ahead of time and learn the skills needed to responsibly take heroic action.

Pro Tip: You don’t rise to the level of the threat, you default to the level of your training.

The willingness is going to come to you because every day, you do the right thing, even if it’s the hard thing.

The opportunity is something you’re more likely to have if you’ve pre-positioned yourself for a greater chance to have the opportunity to do the heroic thing that needs to be done. My brothers and sisters in the security profession have much greater odds of coming upon the opportunity because they spend 40 hour a week, every week, in a position where there might be a problem.

Today (right now!) is when you make yourself the type of person who will be heroic when others need your help. Practice small acts of self-sacrifice everyday. Study the way you’re supposed to study. Work the way you’re supposed to work. We are not built for comfort. We are build for courage.

Do the right thing, even if it’s the hard thing.

Stay Safe,
Larry Kaye, P.I.

P.S. – Don’t miss my special report titled… If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it right here

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