Guy Kawasaki has details of a psychology paper written about the ability of normal people to do heroic things. There are five actions that lead to someone having a “heroic imagination”.
- Maintain constant vigilance for situations that require heroic action.
- Learn not to fear conflict for taking a stand.
- Imagine alternative future scenarios beyond the present moment.
- Resist the urge to rationalize and justify inaction.
- Trust that people will appreciate heroic (and frequently unpopular) actions.
That’s a pretty complete list. I particularly like the fourth point. It is very easy to convince yourself that nothing should be done. There are so many things that could happen to you if you do something heroic. Imagine if Wesley Autrey had decided that it would be much safer and smarter to not jump on the tracks.