We all have folks we look up to. I enjoy asking people who their heroes are. It’s amazing how often parents, grandparents, coaches, and teachers get mentioned. And when people begin describing their heroes you start to wonder if they are bending the truth–can anybody be that good?

Often, folks will catch themselves and offer a caveat: “Well, he wasn’t perfect–no one is–but I sure looked up to him, and I honestly can’t remember much that is negative.” Admiration can do that to our memories. It’s a tremendous grace.

So, what are the traits that we deeply appreciate in the people we look up to? The list is predictable, isn’t it? Kindness; Courage in the face of adversity; Patience and self-control in the face of frustration; Empathetic listening; Timely wise counsel stated in firm yet gentle tones; A thankful, appreciative spirit; A good sense of humor; Generosity. Faith. Hope. Love.

All of these are difficult to attain, which is what makes them stand out–and inspires us to “Go and do likewise.”

So, who are your heroes? And what can you do today to honor their legacy?

Maximus was my model for self-control, fixity of purpose, and cheerfulness under ill-health or other misfortunes. His character was an admirable combination of dignity and charm, and all the duties of his station were performed quietly and without fuss. He gave everyone the conviction that he spoke as he believed, and acted as he judged right. Bewilderment or timidity were unknown to him; he was never hasty, never dilatory; nothing found him at a loss. He indulged neither in despondency nor forced gaiety, nor had anger or jealousy any power over him. Kindliness, sympathy, and sincerity all contributed to give the impression of a rectitude that was innate rather than inculcated. Nobody was ever made by him to feel inferior, yet none could have presumed to challenge his pre-eminence. He was also the possessor of an agreeable sense of humour.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book I, 15.