Is Oscar Pistorius really a fallen hero? Really?

As a motivational speaker, I aim to challenge people to think and confront the status quo. In this video blog post, I do just that regarding the recent events of the "fallen hero" Oscar Pistrorius — the famed South African Olympic sprinter with a double below-knee amputation. Oscar has been charged with shooting and killing his girlfriend on Valentine's Day morning in his own home. 

Take a few minutes to view this video message where I challenge us all to be more careful about attaching the title of "hero" on those who don't really deserve it. Let's save this title for the ones who do. 

Click here to access the blog post The Banality of Heroism that I refer to in this video — it shares more depth into this conversation.



Mike Dilbeck, founder of the RESPONSE ABILITY Project, is available for keynote speeches and workshops. For more information, and booking, go to or call (888) 817-HERO (4376)

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  1. Hi Mike, Thanks for your video and inspirng information.

    I have also researched and writen and profiled Oscar and his courage against adverities and odds.

    If you would like to review it and comment it would be a honor to hear from you. Here is the link

    Helping You Be Extraordinary


  2. I love the fact that you are talking about how we define our heros.  I especially like how you said we are all heros in waiting!  Unfortunately, we do throw around that term a bit too loosely.  Thanks for this post.

  3. Great distinctions, Mike, on true meaning of "hero." Makes me totally rethink those that I have dubbed with that honor.  Thank you for your thought provoking video!

  4. I love the distinctions you make about altruism and heroism.  I agree that we use the "hero" label too loosly these days.  Good thought provoking video!

  5. Hi Mike, 

    I've always held to a narrow definition of the word hero – someone who risks their own safety to save someone else from danger. Period. Here are a couple of examples that fit my definition:

    • My old neighbor Mr. Craft who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for singlehandedly attacking a trench full of Japanese soldiers to save his pinned down buddies
    • The off duty firefighter who kept going back into the icy Potomac to save the victims of the Air Florida crash back in 1981, who eventually drowned after saving countless others

    I first noticed this watering down of the term hero during Ronald Reagan's first Inaugural address:

    We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we are in a time when there are no heroes just don't know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter—and they are on both sides of that counter.

    I thought it was pabulum then, and I still cringe when I hear the word 'hero' marginalized. I'm glad you're trying to toughen the standard. Maybe it takes a motivational keynote speaker to turn the country around on this issue.

    • Bill:  Thanks for this and I sense we may disagree on this but I will argue that first responders — really any firemen, policement, security guards, etc. — do not qualify to be heroes.  They are paid to do what they do — they are even trained to do what they do.  We expect them to do what they do — our tax dollars pay for this. So, I believe it takes them out of qualification for a true hero. The miliary is a little more grey because they do get paid; however, they do volunteer to enter military service. 

      Again, as I say in the video, I am not the hero police and I am not here to judge — just causing people to think more and disagreement is good.  

  6. I've always been uncomfortable with the fact that many men looked up to my father and put him in "hero" categories at times because he played pro football. I think about his days as a POW in WWII being much more relevant to hero-status. Either way, I never got it. Don't get me wrong I think the world of my Dad, but have always been disillusioned with athletes being considered heros. My two cents.

  7. I LOVE this discussion – sorry I'm late to the party. GREAT post Mike. Bill and I have had this "discussion" many times. I use hero in a different sense from the way he uses it – as my fictitious town is filled with what I call ordinary heroes. And I can truly see validity in both sides – or rather all sides – of the discussion. And might I add this: I think we need to take a good hard look at who we idolize in society and why. Judy Carter just did a great newsletter about the Red Carpet – and how it was filled with actors and actresses who conquered amazing obstacles to get where they are, and the only question the reporter asks is about the label of the dress. That's messed up! Sometimes I think we hold up people in our society as role models that shouldn't be held up. And we forget the countless others who do great good in this world. If we don't hold up role models who are brave, how will our children ever be taught to be brave? They just might get more focused on the dress. 

    (Bill, don't start arguing with me on the definition of "idol").

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