I grew up in a fairly messy family. Without divulging too many details, I spent the majority of my childhood waiting for someone to save me. The average adults in my life were so screwed up; I needed a superhero. Some astronaut who would take me to the moon. A policeman who puts me into some safe environment with a fireplace, hot chocolate and peace. A savior. An angel.

Needless to say, that hero never came. And, I realized very early in life that there was no hero. Nobody will save me. I have to save myself.

Obama. Steve Jobs. Joe Paterno.

As a native German, I’m not a big fan of the hero narrative. 1945 ended that narrative for the majority of Germans. The roots are deep and strong in American culture: It permeates history books, religious stories, our sports teams, our politics. Just ask Democrats that believed to have found their hero 3 years ago. Or Republicans who are currently looking for one.

We want heroes in our corporate world: Google dominating Yahoo. Amazon in a major fight against Apple. Who will be the superhero? The one? We hope for the one leader to move a corporation in the right direction, not trusting the collaborative force of all employees.

Hoping for heroes will end in disappointment. It can end in a disaster because of worship without any regulations and limitations (Paterno). It can end in disappointment and emerging apathy towards the former hero (Obama). Or it can end in an understanding that real heroes don’t follow the example of other heroes. Instead, they follow their own purpose. (Steve Jobs)

The hero next door.

Waiting for heroes leads us to copy. We need to create.

We shouldn’t wait for another power to solve our issues. We have the power.

Solving the world’s problems is not the job of a hero. It’s our job.

Changing the politics of K Street is not one man’s problem. It’s our problem.

Transforming the corporation you work for is not the CEO’s responsibility alone. It’s your responsibility as well.

Restarting and reinventing the economy can’t be done through the super powers of one hero. Our collaborative effort will be the super power.

Life is built in co-creation. A family is a co-creative effort, just like a corporation, a community, a society, an economy.

When I finally realized there was no hero who would rescue me, I had to find the strength inside of me to change the situation. I had to make hard decisions, focus on things that mattered to me. My life suddenly became purposeful: anything to leave this place and find a space to be and prosper. I’m glad the hero never came. I wouldn’t have found my own purpose. Wouldn’t have made the life I’m living, full of gratefulness. I wouldn’t be the person I am right now.

We don’t need heroes on a pedestal. We don’t need to become the next Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, JFK or Dalai Lama. Your objective in life is not to create the next Twitter, be as successful as a person you admire or make as much money as Warren Buffet. Your job in life is to find your own purpose, collaborate with like-minded people and change the world. Your job in life is to be your own hero.