What is Heroism?
" Being heroic does not mean having superpowers. Being heroic means being there for others and helping them, regardless of their gender, age or race."
— HIP Student in Italy
The Heroic Imagination Project (HIP) develops and implements education programs, research, and public initiatives to inspire and encourage everyday heroism. Our mission is to help people take effective action in challenging situations.
HIP defines heroism as intentional action to protect others without expectation of personal gain and with awareness of likely personal costs. Heroes defend, uphold, and promote causes that benefit the greater good, despite pressures to do otherwise or potential risks to doing so. Heroism may involve an impulsive action, such as saving a person from drowning, or may be reflective, such as planning a course of action to oppose injustice in an organization or system.
A fundamental HIP goal is to celebrate heroic acts and the people who engage in them and to use these examples to instruct others to act heroically. We believe that the action of heroism depends on the development of a skill set that can be learned, taught, and modeled. HIP specifically instructs and promotes the practice of everyday heroism, which are are wise acts of courage and kindness that anyone can do to create positive change in their own lives or in the lives of others that will benefit the greater good. Everyday heroic acts are habitual, positively impact the community, de-escalate potentially adverse situations, and transform the everyday hero into a hero in training - prepared to take heroic action when the opportunity arises.
We prepare heroes in training through lessons that focus on building self-efficacy, making values-driven decisions, exploring personal potential, exercising compassion and courage, and decreasing personal prejudice, as well as an understanding of the power of situational and social forces that might otherwise prevent us from taking action. When this understanding is fostered in group settings, everyday heroism is no longer seen as an abstract concept destined for the chosen few, but a continual personal choice that anyone can make. We strive for outcomes in which individuals receive practical instruction, realize their potential to make a difference, and take subsequent action to do so.