We Don’t Need Another Hero

When I’m doing something I’m afraid of, which is admittedly most of the time, the way I do it isn’t pretty. It’s certainly not heroic. I struggle through. I’m a sobbing mess. You may not be able to see that part, but it’s true. That may be partly why it feels so funny to have been named one of More magazine’s 50 Fiercest Women in America. Fierce people are cool. They can do ten things at once. They are fearless. They are never perturbed. I’m in a general state of perturbance.

For a long time I felt bad about me and my general state. Shouldn’t I be doing this better? Now I’m realizing that there are a lot of people just like me, and it’s perfectly okay to be perturbed.

Fierce people don’t have to be heroic. Being a hero is unattainable, at least for most of us. Heroes are fictional characters. They show up at the exact right moment, fully prepared, chests puffed out, ready to go. They have invisible planes!

Wonder Woman


When I think of heroes, the visual that comes to mind is the video “Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions”. Have you seen it? [Read more…]

What It Means To Be Fierce

In the dictionary there are two definitions of the word “fierce”.

Definition 1:  Having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness 

The first definition is the one most people think of when they think of fierceness.  It’s intimidating.  I imagine a big scary person with pointy teeth and hairy ears and an angry demeanor glaring at me. Like this:


Definition 2: (of a feeling, emotion, or action) Showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity 


For me, fierceness is about feeling so intensely about a thing that you do it anyway. Despite your fears.

I think so many of us expect we require more than just heartfelt intensity to do something big. We should be fearless. Heroic. Have Guts with a capital G. We should be more like ________________ (fill in the blank here with the iconic people you compare yourself to and think you come up short).

For me, being fierce is not about heroism, this iconic vision of aggressive, ass-kicking women. It’s not about looking perfect while you knock down every barrier. It’s about heart and intensity and ugly struggle.  It’s about learning to live with the barriers – that you’re not good enough, that you don’t have permission, that you don’t have the right skills, that you may not get the right outcome – instead of waiting until you’re able to eliminate all of them, which will never happen.

Being powerful is about accepting that anything that tugs at you deeply is valuable enough to pursue.  It’s not about the size of the impact you may have, or your fame or your budget, or society’s view of the worthiness of your purpose. It’s about pursuing your call to be involved in the world in a specific and meaningful way that’s unique to you, regardless of measurements.

I’m not the chest-beating type and maybe you aren’t either. Who cares. We still have definition 2 on our side. We can still be fierce and powerful.


Photo credit: Delphine Perret