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Leave the Hero Cape at Home

By Tom Caprel

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As I was watching a promotional spot for the wildly successful NBC show “Heroes”, I thought of the entrepreneurs I’ve dealt with over the years. Everyone loves to be the hero, and entrepreneurs often get to play real life heroes in their own business drama.

The Business Hero may bring in the big deal just in the nick of time to ‘save’ the company for another year, or they roll up their sleeves working with their team to solve business-threatening issues.

Remember in the movie “Batman” when Gotham City illuminates the bat silhouette against the black sky in an emergency? The Business Hero picks up the Blackberry or Treo…today’s cry for help…and jumps in to get the deed done. Everyone cheers!

Heady stuff for mere mortals.

But what happens when the Business Hero gets tired, distracted, is needed elsewhere, wants to spend time at home or, gasp! needs to take a vacation? Where’s Robin when you need him?

I’ve seen too many tired, tattered and overwrought Business Heroes begin to resent their role because employees ‘light the lamp’ at the first sign of trouble. If that feels or sounds familiar, don’t despair! There is a way out of this “Hero Trap”.

  1. First you have to admit you like being the hero. Ask someone you love and trust to give you straight answer: “Do I create opportunities to fly in and play the hero?”
  1. Begin to see why it’s important to you to play the hero:
    1. An ex-partner/employee never did it right
    1. You’re smarter than they are
    1. They can’t be trusted
    1. Just afraid to let go
  1. Create a new way of doing it in your business:
    1. Acknowledge the belief underlying the existing cultural norm (“I play the hero to make sure this place stays successful.”), keeping it in the present to show that it is still important.
    1. Openly acknowledge the existing practice or behavior following from the original belief (“When we have a problem everyone looks to me to begin solving it.”), clearly putting it in the past.
    1. Slip in a new practice or advocate a new behavior from the basic belief:
  1. “Come to me with a problem along with several ideas for a solution.”
  2. Remove the old practice or behavior, clearly stating that the old behavior is no longer the norm.
    1. “If I get a call without you trying a solution, I’ll hang up the phone.”


  1. Make sure that your community supports and challenges you on this:
    1. Give people the chance to put the cape on themselves.
    1. Make sure they are empowered to tell you when you’re doing your “Hero” thing.

You can hang up your cape and lead a fuller, happier life.  And so will your employees.


About the Author

Tom Caprel, Sr., is the founder of Breakthrough Results, and is a master coach in success, both for life and business. (630) 918-0760.



A balanced personal life and extraordinary business success are my tenets.”

Tom Caprel, Sr.