Heroic Leadership with Dr. Scott Allison

Scott is a Professor of Psychology, University of Richmond. He has published over 100 articles and authored numerous books on heroism and leadership, including 'Heroes' and 'Heroic Leadership'.  His work has been featured in USA Today, NY Times, LA Times, NPR, and Psychology Today, among others.  He has received Richmond's Distinguished Educator Award and the Virginia Council of Higher Education's Outstanding Faculty Award.

Links:

Website: http://t.co/DI5HqDENuh?amp=1

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heroes/

Twitter:  @HeroesToday

Books: Dr. Allison's Books on Amazon

Inside this Episode:

  • Tapping Into Heroic Drive
  • The Power of Imperfection
  • The Role of Relatability
  • Heroism is Born From Adversity
  • Preparing for the Moment
  • The Human Journey is the Hero’s Journey
  • Why Learning About Heroism is Trans-Rational (and what that means)
  • The Connection Between Stories and Empathy
  • Accelerate Your Learning Through Fables
  • Courage In Today’s Corporate Environment
  • Leadership and Legacy
  • Finding Meaning in the Company’s Story
  • Roberto Clemente and the Heart of Leadership
  • Leaders Grow Leaders

John Ryan
You're listening to key conversations for leaders. This is episode number 31. Welcome, everybody. In today's episode, we'll be discussing heroic leadership with Dr. Scott Allison. We'll be talking about how the human journey is really the hero's journey, tapping into the heroic drive the power of imperfection, leadership and legacy and much, much more.

John Ryan 0:21
Leadership is about vision. It's about creating a vision and sharing that vision with others in a way that inspires them to walk with you towards its fulfillment. Along the way, leaders, encourage, motivate, guide and even challenge people to bring their best each and every day. And all this is done through conversations. That's what this show is about better conversations for better leaders.

John Ryan 0:44
Hey, everybody, and welcome to key conversations for leaders. I'm your host, John Ryan. And today we have a very special guest, Dr. Scott Allison. Scott is a professor of psychology at University of Richmond, he has published over 100 articles, and authored numerous books on heroism and the heroic leadership, including heroes and heroic leadership. His work has been featured in USA Today, New York Times, LA Times, NPR and Psychology Today, among others. He's received Richmond's distinguished educator Award and the Virginia Council of higher education Outstanding Faculty Award. Thank you so much for being here on the show. Dr. Allison.

Scott Allison 1:21
Thank you, john. It's a pleasure to be here.

John Ryan 1:24
Thank you. You know, I wanted to start by asking, why is it that we're drawn to heroes?

Scott Allison 1:33
Okay, so the word drawn is, is a great verb, because I think we have to go back to evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology and look at what heroes have done for us in terms of promoting our fitness level, our survival value, our reproductive abilities, over the millennia, over the millions of years, that we and our ancestors have been alive. And, and, and so heroes serve important survival functions. Early on, I think our heroes in our groups, our tribes were the people who protected us who kept us safe, who defended us from threats. And so even today, when you ask people, what do your heroes do for you, they will list safety, security, and defense and protection as one of the things that are important to them. And so we're drawn to heroes who keep us safe, we're drawn to heroes who also make us better people. I think we have a natural inclination for self improvement, that we know that a psychologist that people want to improve, they want to become better.

Scott Allison 2:45
So heroes make us better, they enhance us. They have enhanced us morally, they enhanced us spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, they, they improve us. So we're drawn to people who make us better. So there's a long list of things that heroes do for us, make us drawn to them, they, they help us achieve our goals. So we're very goal oriented as people. And we know that heroes help us achieve goals, heroes actually make us feel better that they improve our positive emotional experiences, heroes, when we're just thinking about a hero makes us less lonely. So when you think about your heroes, your loneliness decreases. Um, so there's a bunch of there's a whole litany a checklist of things that heroes do for us. And it's all good, basically.

John Ryan 3:34
So that developed early on, right. And one of the primary tools that we developed as human beings is language. And and I'm sure that came right in the storytelling and developing that he does that those templates, those heroes become templates upon which that we we try to minimize the difference between who we are and what the ideals are, that are represented by these hero figures.

Scott Allison 3:58
Yeah, they're I what you're talking about is the heroic drive. And that we are the goal is like who the heroes are here, and we're down here. What can we do to close the gap and heroes, if they're good heroes, they're mentoring us. And they're showing us role modeling for us with their behavior and with storytelling, and I'm glad you mentioned narratives, heroic narratives. And you and I both know that organizations and leaders and countries have mythologies built around, centered around helping us achieve goals and and acquire meaning and purpose in our lives to help narrow the gap between where the heroes are and where we are. Yeah,

John Ryan 4:42
fantastic. So and you mentioned the the good hero, right in modern cinema and literature. Maybe it's been around for a long time. There's also the the idea of the anti hero, and I just take on explore that for a second are those reminders of the darkness within that keep us on the straight and narrow or why are we drawn to those storylines?

Scott Allison 5:06
Yeah, that's a really good question because the anti hero is, is more of a modern phenomenon. And you begin to see anti heroism correlated with turbulence in our society and darkness in our government, Watergate, for example, and government corruption, and conspiracy theories. And so heroes and villains became kind of molded mesh together when we realize that human beings are not perfect, and that our heroes do have a often have a dark side, even Batman. Now we're not even sure what Batman is Batman, a hero, a villain. And the truth is, I think the antihero narrative is useful in illuminating the imperfections in all of us, and that no hero is really worthy of warship, since we're all we all have flaws, and even our greatest heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi and all of our greatest heroes have a dark side. And for me growing up, it was john lennon. And then I read about john Lennon's dark side, and I thought, Oh, my goodness, this hero who was a musical genius, and a peace activist, was kind of a jerk at times.

Scott Allison 6:22
And so we have to sort of reconcile the imperfections and the humanity that I think we've got to allow heroes to just be people and not expect perfection and not put them on a pedestal. And yet, I think it's wired into us to idealize and warship and venerate an overly warship heroes and expect too much for them. And I think that's one reason why we tear heroes down so easily is because we expect too much from them. So of course, they're going to fall short. And when they not if but when they fall short. What do we do? And so we often tear them down. And so it's this all or nothing thinking about people is kind of unrealistic.

John Ryan 7:05
Yeah, I can, I can see that. And so having that vulnerability, the imperfections as it were john lennon peace activist, but you know, he has he has a dark side, too. Is that better than trying to be that that pure and perfect example of what it means to be a leader, for example, because there's a relatability factor when someone admits their flaws, relatable? And and we try not to knock them down as much? I guess I'm trying to explore that a little bit. Yeah,

Scott Allison 7:35
I totally get that. I'm so glad you brought that up, because that word relatable, if we can relate to someone if we can identify with someone. And I think heroes are doing us a favor. And our leaders in organizations and in politics, do us a favor by reminding us that they're all too human, they make mistakes, so that we don't put this this perfectionistic pressure on ourselves. Because we're all going to make mistakes. In fact, we need imperfect, we need failure, to learn and to grow. And actually there is a classic finding in social psychology. I'm a social psychologist. And one of the classic findings is the pratfall effect, and this is the Elliot Aronson discovered this 5060 years ago, that that people we look up to, when they reveal a small flaw, we actually like them better and love them more. When we witness a chink in the armor, we have a chink in the armor can be your friend, if you're a leader of an organization, it's okay to admit, you're less than perfect, because that makes everyone relax, take a deep breath and realize, okay, I can do this if they if they have these little flaws, then what they are doing and what they're achieving is also what I can do and what I can achieve.

John Ryan 8:56
So it's almost a counterintuitive impact that when you admit there's a chink in the armor and reveal that, that actually it stimulates the heroic drive because like, Hey, I have imperfections, they have imperfections. So maybe I can do this.

Scott Allison 9:12
Exactly, it makes it it makes the journey, the hero's journey much more doable. And in fact, if you think about the hero's journey in in literature and movies, the hero is always missing something at the outset of the journey. One of the fundamental tenets of the hero's journey is the idea that the hero is lacking something at the outset. And you have to go through failure and setback and ordeal and suffering in order to try and become transformed into the better person, the the person who will make a difference in society.

John Ryan 9:50
Can we talk a little bit about that that journey so you said there's there's typically a deficit something missing? And how does one become a hero?

Scott Allison 10:01
Okay, so that's a great question how one becomes a hero? Because there's a psychological answer to that question. But there's also then the physical journey you go on, and the psychological one is, you become a hero to me, john, if I need you to become a hero, for example, if I'm suffering from some deadly, potentially deadly illness, and I know that you have personally overcome that illness, and you've recovered from that illness, you become my hero, you become the person I want to be. So our needs and our motivations, produce heroes, help us choose who our heroes are. basketball players who were trying to become great basketball players will pick LeBron James as their hero, because they're motivated, they have a need to choose someone who will help them achieve their goals. So there's that psychological, heroic path neuron. But then physically, how do I become a hero? In my life? That's a complicated question. Because there are so many different kinds of heroes, I can be a complete jerk, I can be complete, idiot and jerk. And I can be walking down the street one day and see there's a burning building, and I run into the building and save someone. And I go from jerk to hero in a split second in one moment. That's a single incident hero. And that's a little unusual.

Scott Allison 11:29
Typically, heroism is defined by a long term commitment, a lifetime of, of committing oneself, of devoting oneself to a larger purpose. And so that's typically how we see a hero, the Sully Sullenberger who land the airplane on the Hudson River. That moment of heroism is very is rare. It does happen. But I think if we're going to go on the journey of heroism, it's, you can't really engineer it, you can have goals. But often, heroism happens if we're just open to learning, to growing and to experiencing life and using setback and failure as tools. And as opportunities to grow. A lot of us are discouraged when we don't achieve our goals when really failure and mistakes, opportunities can be treasured for us. So we have to be open to everything life presents to us and to see opportunities in failure.

John Ryan 12:36
So the single incident hero that's rare, the Sully Sullenberger, is that a single incident as well, yes, yes. Okay, even though I'm sure nice human being not the jerk that you're talking about for verbally, but but typically there, there's a longer system of values and drives that put someone's into that maybe in that hero mindset. Is that fair to say?

Scott Allison 13:01
Exactly. And so suddenly Sullenberger went through a journey that enabled him to do that one incredible heroic act. And we don't see all the preparation, all the moral training, like the influence his parents had on him, to become a good person to be the the brave, courageous, resourceful, calm under pressure person who is able to do this incredible thing. So we often lose sight of the fact that when someone does something heroic, there is years of preparation, that are behind the scenes that led to that heroism. And we have to remember, heroism doesn't just happen overnight. It's usually the result of years of, of becoming ready for it. LeBron James did become LeBron James, because one day he said, I'm going to be a great basketball player. He was in the gym, he was working hard, he failed. And he kept persevering and he acquired these incredible attributes that allowed him to be the guy he is.

John Ryan 14:01
Can you walk us through when we hear about LeBron James Michael Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, and in these heroes in many, many respects, how are we? How do we experience that? And as the average individual, what does that do to us individually and psychologically, emotionally?

Scott Allison 14:19
Well, I think we have to remember that the human journey is the hero's journey, we often make the mistake of assuming that the heroes are out there. The heroes are the people we see on TV, on in the movies and novels. I can never be a Martin Luther King Jr. Or I can never be a Harry Potter, or I can never be a Luke Skywalker. I tell my students that you think that you go to the movies, or you read a novel to be entertained. You think you're just there to watching Game of Thrones to be entertained. What's really happening is you're drawn to these stories, these narratives Because they are they're educating you. You're being educated and inspired. This is a, this is school, when you're when you're watching a Harry Potter or whatever you're actually in training, because the heroes on the screen, and in the novel are telling you pay attention.

Scott Allison 15:22
This journey that I'm on is your journey. And so we have to remember that everyone is on the hero's journey, each one of us starts out as an underdog, we're disadvantaged, we're weak, we're small. And we get pounded, and we're going to be we're going to suffer. And every one of us, you, every all of your listeners on this podcast, we struggled, and maybe we are currently struggling with financial setback, or marital discord, or a disease, or divorce, whatever it is, we're hurting in some way. And yet, we know that human beings are incredibly resilient. And we need people. So if we have the right social network, we get help. Because every hero gets help from friends, companions and allies, every hero has helped and has the inner reserves to do what Harry Potter does and to do what Katniss Everdeen does in the Hunger Games, and to do what Sylvester Stallone did, and Rocky, we all have that. And that's why we're drawn to those stories, because they're reminding us that each human being is going to be on a similar journey and they're not these heroes, we're reading about and watching on the screen. They're not special, different people. They're every, every one of us on that same journey. So we have to pay attention to what what are they doing? They're getting help. You know, Rocky had his manager was it was it was a Burgess Meredith I forget who was managing.

John Ryan 16:53
I believe it was

Scott Allison 16:54
Katniss Everdeen had what Woody Harrelson who called himself the map mentor, and Luke Skywalker had Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi. So we all have our Obi Wan Kenobi. So we cannot isolate ourselves. And that's one reason why this pandemic is so hard. Because I think we're being challenged in terms of being isolated and separated from people. And we know human beings need people to grow and to evolve and to become our best, most heroic selves. And so every one of you out there listening, find people who make you your best self. Look, who is it that you count on to help you become your best self, those are the people you need to be around. If not for a cup of coffee than zoom them, call them, text them, reach out to them, because we need each other. We are social creatures, and every hero is on a social journey of learning and growing through mentoring and coaching. And john, you're that coach, you're that executive coach, the organization leadership coach, you are helping people on the hero's journey and my guest says john, you were on your hero's journey. And you're still on it obviously, but your hero's journey has is helping you help other people go through and reach the fruition of their own leadership hero's journey, right?

John Ryan 18:21
Absolutely. Absolutely. And it's fun when you point that out that everyone looks back and and I was watching a masterclass with Malcolm Gladwell if you're Malcolm Gladwell fan, and he talked about Kafka and said that every hue every one of us is necessarily the the hero in our own story in our own journey. And so I look back as you're talking like yeah, of course I can make myself and see the you know the threshold and crawl and what was missing and going to find the resources and going into the magical world and all those things on the on the classic Joseph Campbell the hero's journey that you're that you're talking about. And and as as a mentor as a coach, you're right that's part of our job is to help people find the resources so that they can fulfill their destiny in that way. Such great things that you said by the way a moment ago what I really loved my favorite part because now I feel like justified for watching Game of Thrones is that I'm learning I'm actually training my mind I'm preparing for the real world, but I'm doing it in a dissociated way. So I can actually accelerate my learning because I see what Searcy does and oh that's bad leadership in that situation. Or what Jon Snow does you know what i like john snows version of leadership and so I'm going to adapt and kind of go into that that mindset Can you can you connect the dots a little bit for us on some of those classic heroic tales here wisdom itself and and the everyday leaders that are out there?

Scott Allison 19:51
I'm happy to but it's never as simple as connecting the dots because I think one of the things we we make the mistake of doing is We assume Oh, this is all this hero's Hero's Journey thing. This process of becoming our best, most heroic selves is a rational logical process that I can think my way into. One of the reasons why we have to watch stories about like Game of Thrones, or Star Wars, is because ultimately, heroism isn't rational. It's trans rational, and trans rational means beyond our ability to figure think our way through. And so we learn things through storytelling that we cannot learn by having someone lecture to us with formulas, equations, and logical arguments drawn out on PowerPoint slides.

Scott Allison 20:46
Only storytelling can teach us how people overcome suffering. You can't hear a lecture on suffering and how to overcome it. You have to watch it through storytelling. And so you're watching tyrian, the dwarf in Game of Thrones go through all this suffering. And you look at the qualities he has. And he's role modeling for you perseverance, resilience, courage, resourcefulness, and even sneakiness. So and we have to ask ourselves, and this gets back at the antihero question. There's a lot of anti terrorism and actually awful behavior in Game of Thrones, how much of that is useful? And is any of it useful? And what does that mean? And we have to make, we can only make sense of it through storytelling. Because ultimately, storytelling is is full of trans rational phenomena, like suffering, love, death. I just mentioned, really things we cannot learn from, from book learning, we've got to learn it only through storytelling, which is why we're drawn to heroes and narratives, because they're full of these trans rational phenomena that teach us wisdom, and in ways that we cannot learn any other ways. So I think you think you're wasting your time on Netflix? No, you're learning whether you know it or not.

John Ryan 22:18
So the trends and the exact terminology, the trans rational, trans rational, that idea like I can't tell someone about suffering and the the difficulties that tyrian went through, they have to actually empathically experienced that and go through that journey with them. Is that how it makes the connection inside in a useful way? Exactly. Exactly.

Scott Allison 22:46
So, yes, so I like to use the word empathically. So we do vicariously go through the suffering of our heroes. And then whether we were consciously aware of it or not, I think a lot of it is unconscious, so that when I go through similar suffering, or when you go through a similar suffering, we kind of remember in the back of our minds, ah, that day that time Superman encountered kryptonite. This is what he did. I think one of the reasons why we read stories you said you have a seven year old kid at home. I'm guessing you read bedtime stories, and we think that we read bedtime stories to help our kids fall asleep. No, we're reading those stories to teach them how to overcome suffering. So these Bedtime Stories like grimms fairy tales, grimms fairy tales are full of death and witchcraft and evil spells and gruesome activities. But the heroes in those stories like Hansel and Gretel, and one of them being thrown into an oven, well, how did they escape that situation? Where teach we're preparing our kids, for the real world for the darkness in the real world, so that when they encounter that darkness, they can know in the back of their minds, ah, jack in the beanstalk. You know, he was chased by the giant and this is what he did. So we have to remember that the stories that we tell people, you're mentoring your kid, you're preparing them for life, and you're teaching them emotional intelligence. I don't know if you're in the EQ at all. But I think you're teaching kids when you read them dark stories, how to manage their darkest emotions, their fear, how to manage your fear, how to regulate what you're, what you're thinking and feeling in a dark, dangerous situation.

John Ryan 24:40
That's really empowering as a parent to look at that and in our bedtime reading is like watching Netflix right before bed. It's the same thing. We're preparing them for the future. Just to give you a data point years ago, jack was concerned my son was concerned about jumping into the pool, and we can never get him to do it, even though he's taking lessons. And so eventually he did on his own. And I said what was different today? He said, I decided to believe in myself like Piglet did in Winnie the Pooh. So it was a direct one to one that that narrative just like you said, it gets in like using the transactional analysis words, tapes, like you're literally downloading inside of them in their their DNA of their memory and their consciousness, the tape. So that begins super early in our society, it's really indoctrinating them into our cultural values. And it sounds like it's continuing as adults by what we're pouring into our minds from a movie and book realm as well.

Scott Allison 25:38
That's an awesome story about Piglet that is so awesome, I'm gonna have to remember that

John Ryan 25:43
You are more than welcome to share that.

Scott Allison 25:44
Well, I think and pigs, I'm in those three little pigs. And we learned Oh, look, the first pig let's let's not build houses, but straw, that second pig, let's not build houses out of wood, we got to build strong houses. So we have a cautionary tale. And sometimes, stories that of what not to do are just as important as stories about what we should be doing, which is what the third pig did. So these stories are so full of failure, but also triumph over the adversity that we face. So I'm so I think it's such a cool story about courage and how we learn courage from our heroes, which is why we need heroes so badly. We need Kurt heroes who will bring out the best in us, I think. So thank you for sharing that. That's powerful.

John Ryan 26:32
Thank you. Thank you. And that was the short version, but he's the guy. So how What does leadership look like what his heroes as him look like in you know, a modern organization? Who?

Scott Allison 26:47
That's a great question.

Scott Allison 26:50
And I'm kind of reminded, I don't know if you've seen that Netflix documentary called the social dilemma, just recently watched it. Yeah. So the guy who one of the guys who made that story that that documentary was Tristan Harris, Tristan Harris, is an ethicist who worked at Google a few years ago. And you may recall, if you've watched this documentary, and social dilemma that Tristan Harris, while working for Google, was concerned that Google was only only preoccupied with users attention, how do we keep users online? How do we make money by monopolizing users attention. And he, he came up with he, he wrote a 141 slide deck, talking about ways Google can become a more humane organization, talking about helping Google develop a social conscience. And so within Google, he circulated his slides, and he was getting a lot of positive feedback about Yeah, we need to, we need to do some good with our platform we need, we need to help people become better people, our users need to become better people, not just money making tools. But his slides went nowhere. He didn't go get anywhere, any traction with the slides, even though it went viral in the Google organization. So he left Google and he started the Center for humane technology. So what I think is he tried to be a hero in his organization, he tried to bring out the best in people and the best in his organization. He didn't really succeed. But he did succeed in the sense that he persevered and took his socially conscience filled message elsewhere. And he established his own organization, the Center for humane technology, that's about helping technology help us become our best selves. So I think that might be an example of heroic leadership in an organization leadership that, that helps us all become our best selves and helps the organization be not just an organization with a head and with profit, as the number one goals but an organization with the goal of helping everyone in the organization and customers become their best selves.

John Ryan 29:17
You know, now that you share that, and thank you for adding on that heroic lens. Because you you see that a little bit differently now. Because you're right, he created that slide deck at me and all the way up at the top, I believe, and they said, and then nothing and that visual that they had nothing happen. So he had a choice, right? He could continue on that heroic journey and go elsewhere or let it die. And he had amazing courage to really think about there's a lot of risk and uncertainty and communal pressure that's there is that I can see that being a culture clash, obviously a culture clash, because clearly no one else is willing to carry that torch with him. Is that This type of racism commonly built up intentionally in organizations, or do they want to kind of keep the status quo?

Scott Allison 30:07
Well, that's a good question. And do organizations encourage independent thinking do organizations? Are they designed to help us become our best selves? And to think creatively create to think outside the box to use a cliche? Do they? Or are they designed to help us? Are they designed to harm us by making us all Tow the line and think, like lemmings like sheep. And I think good organizations encourage people to become their best uniquely individual selves, which means you may good organizations should encourage conflicting ideas, conflicting ideals, I think, if you're a smart leader, you're going to encourage the devil's advocates out there to speak up and to become heroic, and to dare to question the status quo. Because we You and I both know the status quo can lead to groupthink, it can lead to stagnation, it can lead us down a rabbit hole of disaster. And we don't want that to happen. So, um, yeah, I don't know if that answers your question at all. But I really believe that Tristan Harris, tried to break the mold and to break people out of that, that single minded mindset of what defines success, because success can be defined many different ways. And he wanted to define define success in a different way, success from the port of a moral from the point of view of a moral conscience as the company's goal and didn't didn't get any traction. But he did have the courage to take that idea elsewhere.

John Ryan 31:49
And is having impact with with the social dilemma. So he's continuing on that journey. So journey. So if I hear what you're saying that it takes some courage on the part of leadership, to create a space for that creativity into challenge thinking, and there's clearly costs of maintaining that group think and just do what I say and not really challenge it. And there's also opportunity, and it's probably more in line with the times to actually have more of open discussion versus decisions are at the top and is executed down, down at the bottom.

Scott Allison 32:22
Absolutely, absolutely. And I think it can, it has to be a top down like someone like Mark Zuckerberg, I think he cares about his legacy. And he should care about his legacy. Jeff Bezos cares about his legacy. And they I hope they're worried about their legacy. Right now. We need every leader to be worried about what's the legacy here, what do I want to be known for after I'm gone, because we don't want to be known as only someone who is profit oriented, we want to be known for all of us want to be known for, for making the world a better place. And the world is a better place, not just if we make money, and and make profit, our number one goal, the world's a better place, when we are more enlightened in our thinking. And when we our goal is to give the world a more meaning and more purpose and be more enlightened in terms of seeing the connect the interconnections among us all, making people feel valuable making everyone prosper, not just the higher reps, but let's make sure everyone is prospering from the top to the bottom of the organization and in society. So we have a huge social obligation as leaders to do right. And and not only be single mindedly fixated on the bottom line,

John Ryan 33:40
Do you find because the ideas of open communication, creativity, authenticity that you're bringing up, does erode leadership also connect with a higher engagement, productivity and retention, when you have that kind of environment?

Scott Allison 33:58
Yes, thank you for bringing that up. I'm not an expert on organizational dynamics and employee engagement. But absolutely, the more participatory the environment, the better. Because every human being from top to bottom, from side to side, wants to feel valued, meaning that wants to have meaning and purpose. They want to feel like that what they're doing matters. And so engagement with meaning and meaningful and purposeful vision. So this means the mission statement of any organization is so important, because that starts at the that's the top and we want to make sure that the mission statement is a very humane, egalitarian, a enlightened mission statement that incorporates the values of the best values of humanity, not just the values of capitalism, but the values of humanity that will that will get them engaged. Going certainly in participation, and that will keep employees happy and help with retention as well when everyone feels they're making a difference in a positive way. And it isn't always about money. It's about recognition and doing something that you know, is going to make a positive that makes the world better, not just the organization better, but are what we're doing good to make the world better in some way. I think people care about that. We can't forget that, that people care about the world.

John Ryan 35:30
One of the things I'm connecting with much things you're saying around legacy and impact and caring about others, is that a common theme in leaders is putting the needs of others ahead of yourself, or at least on a similar playing field.

Scott Allison 35:45
Yes, so I'm so old, I grew up with Star Trek The Original Series, and Captain Kirk always put the well being of others before himself, that whole idea of In fact, one of the great eight traits of Heroes is selflessness. putting others before yourself, that's altruism. That's being so co sent. Instead of being egocentric, great leaders are socio centric. They put the community's well being ahead of their own personal well being. So absolutely selflessness, socio centrism, being community engaged, so important.

John Ryan 36:24
Can you talk a little bit about your favorite hero, Roberto Clemente, and what is it that you admire so much?

Scott Allison 36:32
Okay, so I grew up in Pittsburgh. And Roberto Clemente was a Hall of Fame right fielder great hitter, got 3000 hits, terrific athlete. And that's all I knew and cared when I was a kid. I just wanted him to win games for the pirates. And then he died in a plane crash trying to help people. And I'm thinking to myself, Oh, my gosh, why did he put himself in harm's way. He put himself on a plane carrying relief supplies to earthquake victims in in Nicaragua. And he did that to make sure those relief supplies got to Managua, Nicaragua, because apparently some some planes carrying food and medicine to the victims of the earthquake, we're not getting there. They were being pirated and hijacked. And he said, I'm going to make sure this plane with food and medicine and water gets there. So it gets on this plane, it's overloaded. And the plane goes down in the Caribbean. He's in Puerto Rico at the time, that's where we live. So here I was struck by a hero who not only was a terrific athlete, and physically had these remarkable skills, but he had heart he was a philanthropist. He was a humanitarian. He put others needs ahead of his own. And then I learned about stories about how when the pirates run road trips, he would if the pirates were in Houston, he'd go into downtown Houston, and talk to the urban inner city people and find out what their problems were, he would give them money and listen to them. He was he had a remarkable heart. And so I realized that's, that's the hero, the hero is not just competent. A hero is compassionate and loving as well.

John Ryan 38:16
So he's not a single incident hero. He was a hero through and through based on his values and action, and in everything he did in his life. Yeah, I think our greatest heroes are lifelong heroes. Yes, lifelong heroes. I love that. You know, on the hero's journey, sometimes the conversation can be the catalyst to the call to action. You know, can you remember perhaps a conversation or two that maybe had led you down this path? Or, or has a big impact on you in your personal life? All right,

Scott Allison 38:47
yeah, that because I think I love the fact john that you focus on communication, because that's a social activity, we have to remember that our journey as human beings and as potential heroes. We need people we need to interact with people, we need to learn from people and engage with people. Our lives cannot work. Without people, we cannot succeed with people. We cannot be happy without people. So this idea of what was their one call to action conversation that happened in my life. And I think it goes back to my mother, I think my mother, when I was a kid, she sensed that I was quiet and timid and and lacks self confidence. She could sense I didn't have much self confidence. And she sat me down one day. And she said to me, Scott, you're you're pretty darn smart. And you are a hard worker. And you're you've got a good heart. Do you realize Scott, you can do anything you put your mind to. You are capable of accomplishing anything. You you put your mind to if you work hard, you can achieve anything you want to achieve. And I remember looking at her like she was crazy. It's like what? What are you nuts? Look at me I'm just a little pipsqueak have a kid. Kids are teasing me, I get bullied at school. But but it stuck with me. That conversation stuck with me, because I needed a boost I and I think we all need to help pick people up who were down. And and and I'm sure you had such a boost given to you, john, I think we all need a little help. And that was a hugely helpful conversation. And it my transformation into a confident person didn't happen overnight. But that was this she planted a seed and I think often what we do is we plant seeds, and we don't see the seeds germinate for many years, but seed planning is so important. And that that was a helpful life changing conversation. And a gift that my mother gave me.

Scott Allison 41:10
Incredible, thank you so much for sharing that, about that seed story and and and clearly how it is impacted your trajectory and coming out of your shell and being the the influence or the leader that you are in in shaping the future minds by sharing all these narratives and these ideas, and helping people train by encouraging them to watch Netflix as well. Just kidding.

Scott Allison 41:32
Thank you, john, for this opportunity. I really appreciate the conversation very much.

John Ryan 41:37
Would you share? What's the best way for people to find out more about you your work? And in the Can They buy all your books on Amazon as well?

Scott Allison 41:46
Yeah, I've got a bunch of books on heroism on on sale at Amazon. I blog. I've been blogging on heroism for over 10 years, my blog has been visited by over a million people. So just google Scott Allison heroes and you'll see my blog pop up, where I talk about how to become a hero. What, what causes people to become heroes? Who are today's heroes and why. So yeah, read my blog. And you'll you'll learn a lot. Hopefully, we'll see.

John Ryan 42:16
Excellent. And you can I'll put all the links to his social media feeds and his website on the show notes. And again, thank you so much for being here, Dr. Allison.

Scott Allison 42:24
Thanks, john. Take care.

John Ryan 42:26
And for all of you listening. Thanks so much for being here. Until next time, develop yourself, empower others, and lead by example. Thank you for listening to key conversations for leaders with your host john Ryan. If you enjoy the show, please let us know. Give us a rating or write a review. For more tools to engage, inspire and empower yourself and others visit www.keyconv.com/free if you haven't already, connect with me on twitter @keyconvo and on LinkedIn under John Ryan Leadership


John Ryan


Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

related posts: