Can you think of one single successful act that you achieved without some support from someone? If you won a race “all by yourself,” were you coached? Did someone design superior shoes that gave you the traction and support you needed? How many people set up the race and invited others to compete and attend? Who was there to compete with you so that you might win?
The human race is designed to work together. We depend on each other, whether we acknowledge it or not. This dependance on each other is especially true in the professional work that we do. Woven into each corporation, each organization, each group is a workplace story rich with human interaction.
Some of the best stories highlight this collaborative nature and integrate it into the depth of all the interactions throughout the story. There’s a hero, but is there only one?
Consider Lord of the Rings. Who was the hero in that story?
The hobbit cousin of Bilbo Baggins, chosen to carry the One Ring to its final destruction in the fires of Mount Doom. Having no desire for power combined with a strong will able to resist the temptations of the Ring, he was deemed the only one who could survive the challenge of successfully disposing the Ring, thereby saving all of Middle Earth.
Frodo’s gardener, “Sam” joined Frodo in his quest to destroy the ring. Sam proved to be an arm of strength in Frodo’s weakest moments. He fought a great spider and Orcs to protect his dearest friend. At the top of Mount Doom where the Ring was forged, Sam protected Frodo from a final moment of weakness and in turn caused Gollum, who bit the Ring off of Frodo’s finger, to fall into the fiery pits of Mount Doom. Without Samwise Gamgee, Frodo might have lost his way and ultimately failed his sacred mission.
Enemy to Sauron, forger of the One Ring. Gandalf the Grey hunts down the Ring, encourages Frodo to carry it to Rivendell, and then leads the Fellowship of the Ring toward Mount Doom. He sacrifices himself in an underground battle to save Frodo and the others. He is then later resurrected as Gandalf the White who brings reinforcements to win the Battle at Gondor while Frodo destroys the Ring. Without Gandalf’s pursuit to destroy the Ring, Sauron would have found it and gained the power to enslave all of Middle Earth.
Son of the king who cut the One Ring from its maker’s hand. Aragorn was raised by Elrond, Elf Lord of Rivendell, in secret after his father was killed and the Ring lost. Joining the Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn had to take the lead after Gandalf was lost in an underground battle. As Frodo drew closer to Mount Doom, Aragorn made his identity known to Sauron, the Ring’s maker, which resulted in the battle at Gondor as a distraction to Sauron that enabled Frodo to achieve his final task.
A Dwarf, though small, fought valiantly at every opportunity to defend his company in the Fellowship of the Ring. Working through an old grudge between Dwarves and Elves, Gimli offers the highest respect to the “Lady of the Golden Wood,” and begins to melt the friction between him and the Elf, Legolas. The two fight together and bond with each ensuing battle.
The “strange Elf glad in green and brown,” once guard over the pitiful Gollum, gets caught up in the quest to destroy the One Ring after Gollum escapes his guard. Often a scout to find the safest path, a warrior, an ambassador in the Elven realms, Legolas helps lead the way, clearing it of danger. Without him, the journey might have involved a longer, more dangerous course—one they might not have survived.
So Who Was the Hero?
Though the focus of the saga is on Frodo and his quest to dispose of the evil Ring for good, the story includes a number of heroes. While Frodo was the one appointed the heavy burden of carrying the Ring to Mount Doom in the evil lands of Mordor, he couldn’t have done it without the heroic acts of all those who attended him. Even the pitiful Gollum, torn between love and hatred of the Ring, wasn’t without brief moments of heroism. Without Frodo, there was no story. Because of Frodo, many heroes were made.