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Awakening Your Inner Hero: You Are Important 

A column to help locals live a kinder and more courageous life

What do you know?

You likely have knowledge and/or skills that others can benefit from. A dentist knows how to repair our ever-decaying teeth. A painter knows how to cover fading walls and brighten our lives. Professional basketball players know how to shoot, rebound and play tough defense. Comedians know how to make us laugh...what a blessing. Everyone who works on our planet knows how to do something that others need or minimally desire—and are willing to pay their hard-earned money to acquire.

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Most of us, past the age of 18, need to be working or be learning something that will assist us in this essential area of life. You are needed by others just as others are needed by you. If you are reading this message now, most likely, you go to work, go to school, or have worked your way into retirement. Hallelujah! Work seems to have worked out for you.

Many of us define ourselves by the work we've chosen to do. "I am a counselor." "I am a mother." "I am a farmer, teacher, bartender, barber, computer programmer." The ways to turn a dollar are endless, as endless as our ever-expanding human needs and desires. We humans are inextricably interwoven from one corner of the earth to the other. We are all servers and receivers.

Now, let's get down to business.

Are you happy doing what you are doing?

Does doing what you are doing define who you are, or simply pay the bills?

What really matters to you?

What's your purpose?

What's your calling?

Do you realize you have important jobs to do during your stay here on Earth?

Actually, many important jobs.

You are important.

Yes. Breathe. Say these words slowly to yourself, "I am important."

There are many ways to navigate this work-happiness, life-satisfaction, what the heck am I doing here? challenge of life.

Few of our challenges are more important than this one.

When we die there will likely be a memorial service, a gathering of loved ones. Some folks will take this opportunity to express heartfelt words in our memory. There will be tears and laughter as our life is reviewed and honored. Author David Brooks identifies two different kinds of life summaries: resumé virtues and eulogy virtues. The former is more of what gets written for a job application. It answers what kind of work we have done. Our skills, achievements and worldly successes. Generally, these are not the qualities people are most remembered for. What we are remembered for is how we treated others—our partner, our children, friends, even strangers; acts of kindness, courage and generosity.

Back to you and me being important. Our importance is measured by how we improve the lives of others. There is a story of a police detective in San Francisco whose job was to follow up on the suicides of people who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. In the apartment of one of the deceased, he found a note that read, "I am going to take my life today. On my way to the bridge, if someone pauses and says hello to me, I will return home and give life another shot." We can never know how important we are to another person.

Sometimes, we think that what we do doesn't matter. The world is too messed up. Nobody cares.

It is not for you and me to complete the task. The big issues in life take generations of dedicated work. We can only do our part.

The great leader, Martin Luther King Jr., told us:

"Everybody can be great, because anyone can serve.

You do not have to have a college degree to serve.

You do not have to make your subject and verb agree to serve.

You only need a heart full of grace.

A soul generated by love.

Any voice that remotely suggests you are not important is lying.

Whether it's your voice or anyone else's.

You are important.

We all are.

That is the truth!


- Burt Gershater is a counselor, leadership trainer, speaker and writer. He can be reached at

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