Being the hero of your own story isn’t about stopping bad guys or climbing mountains. It’s about overcoming bullies in your life, whatever or whomever they may be. It’s about putting it all out there for everyone to see. And it’s realizing that, in life, the most important thing that you can be is yourself.
In the final scene of Central Intelligence, Bob Stone utters these final words before stripping naked in front of his high school at a 20-year reunion.
Bob Stone is played by Dwayne the ‘Rock’ Johnson, who we all know today, chiseled, in shape, and ridiculously good looking. Bob Stone is a unicorn t-shirt wearing, fanny pack carrying CIA agent framed for murdering his partner. By the end of the movie, he captures the bad guy who framed him, just in time to make it to his high school reunion by helicopter and win Homecoming King.
The plot is as every bit ridiculous as you would expect from an action-comedy that includes Kevin Hart. Kevin plays the other lead actor, a washed out high school star athlete turned average, dissatisfied accountant called Calvin.
But before Bob Stone became a Samoan James Bond in the CIA, he was an overweight, bullied teenager, who went by the name Robbie Weirdicht in high school. In his senior year of high school, a group of jocks throws Robbie into the gymnasium. Naked. With the entire school sitting in the bleachers. Of course, he is scarred for life, but not before Kevin Hart hands Robbie his varsity jacket to cover himself up. (He must have had a weird dick)
Twenty years later, Robbie, now Bob, contacts Calvin to join him on a top-secret CIA mission to clear Bob’s name. It turns out Bob learned a few moves after high school at the CIA academy because he throat chops 4 Russian mob members at the bar, take out an entire SWAT team, and masterfully disguises himself as Calvin’s marriage therapist. While it seems like Bob can do it all, what Bob can’t do, is get over his shameful identity as a fat, bullied youth.
Eventually, Bob and Calvin enlist the help of Trevor to help them on their mission. Trevor is one of the bullies who tossed Robbie into the high school gymnasium naked 20 years ago. Bob is visibly nervous, and rightfully so. Trevor shares a story about how he is a born-again Christian and apologizes for his high school antics. He plays the regret-filled Christian only long enough to reveal he’s a Scientologist playing another prank on Robbie Weird Dick.
Once douchebag Trevor drops the act and reveals his true colors, he lays it on thick. He walks up to Bob and says, “once a fat kid, always a fat kid”. Bob looks into the glass wall next to him and sees himself as fat Robbie. He runs out of the room in shame.
Fast forward to the end of the movie. Right before Bob Stone gets on stage to deliver his speech, Trevor shows up and starts the shame fest all over. Not for long this time, as our hero, Bob Stone learns to accept himself for who he is and who he was, which gives him the strength to sucker punch Trevor right in his smug face.
Bob proceeds to reenact his naked humiliation from twenty years ago in front of the same high school that laughed at him, by stripping naked on stage. This time, he’s a hero. The crowd goes wild. The movie closes with him riding off into the sunset, naked, atop a unicorn. (I made up that last bit)
I was sitting in a hostel TV room deep within the city of Huaraz, Peru when I watched this movie. What a terrible movie – I thought to myself as the credits rolled. But it had a good point. And it was relatable.
I could relate to Calvin, the average accountant. Clock in, clock out. Like Calvin, I was ready for more. I was ready to become a hero like Bob Stone.
So, I quit my job to backpack through South America. It wasn’t a top-secret CIA mission but it was my version of it. It was the classic hero’s journey – venture out into the unknown, encounter a crisis, come out victorious, and return transformed.
As Bob says in his speech, being the hero of your story isn’t about the cool shit. For him, it wasn’t about being a hunky CIA agent that flies helicopters and blows up cars. For me, it’s wasn’t about me quitting my job, hiking up to Macchu Picchu, or learning how to surf – none of that matters.
Being a hero is about overcoming challenges and putting yourself out there. It’s about getting naked and risk having everyone laugh at you. It’s about accepting yourself for who you are and being true to yourself.
I recently launched a $50,000 fundraiser to help people in developing countries. I’ve never raised a dollar in my life.
What if I don’t raise a single dollar? What will people think of me? Why am I really doing this? Is this about me or is this about the people I’m helping? What if I’m not meant to be a hero? What if I’m just average? What if no one else cares? What difference am I really making?
These are the Trevor’s in my life. The millions of voices of doubt, insecurity, and fear. I won’t let these thoughts terrorize me. I’m punching every single one of those thoughts in the face.
I’m putting myself out there. I’m risking humiliation.
Because that is what it takes to be a hero.