top of page
  • Writer's pictureAndy Murphy

You’re Not An Action Hero

You’re not John McClane (And That’s Okay)

Hey friend, I want to tell you something important. I’m not saying this to be rude or to make you upset. But you’re not an action hero.

In a day you most likely won’t jump from an exploding building, punch a Nazi, or pilot a Harrier fighter jet. Don’t worry, I’m not going to either.

As people, especially Americans, we think that we all have the innate ability to become a movie-level hero in the blink of an eye. Sadly, Hollywood has been leading us on. We’re not action heroes waiting on our origin story. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do heroic things. So let’s take a look at this from a few perspectives.

Action Movies Aren’t Reality

First, let’s look at how outlandish action hero movies really are. One of my favorite action movies is Die Hard. I think we can all see that the main character John McClane is forced into a defensive situation when his estranged wife’s office Christmas party is taken over by German terrorists.

Now McClane is a New York cop who probably has seen his fair share of police training and on-the-job stress inoculation. So McClane isn’t just an average Joe off the street, but he has to do a lot of things he’s never done before.

Here are some of the things Mr. McClane has to Yipee Kia A this way through in one night:

  • Multiple, lethal, gun fights

  • Lethal hand-to-hand combat against bigger opponents

  • Setting C4 charges on a roof

  • Blowing up said roof whilst jumping from it

  • Outsmarting an entire terrorist cell

  • And doing most of this barefoot.

While this makes for a Christmas movie classic, it’s not a good representation of what you and I may be called to do in a day. See in order to make a blockbuster movie, writers, and directors have to outdo the last round of films. That’s why we end up with very entertaining movies like the Die Hard franchise, the reality is one person can’t do all of that and survive - physically and mentally.

So as my friend and guest on the show Gonzalo for Combat MF says, “If you want to learn how to be a protector, stop watching Hollywood movies and go take a good class.” The movies won’t prepare us for real violence.

Overconfidence Can Hurt

Many people tend to be overconfident in their own abilities. How many of us thought we could outrun the red light and lost or we took on too complicated of a meal and ended up burning it? I have done both.

The overconfidence bias is a cognitive bias that makes people like us mistakenly inflate our skills and knowledge.

It’s good that our brains are encouraging us to try new things but some real-world discretion is needed. Overconfidence can get us hurt.

You’ve probably done this in class as a kid when you confidently said the wrong answer out loud to your teacher. It happens. But where I strongly encourage you to remember your overconfidence bias is when it comes to the safety of your family.

The biggest statement of overconfidence that I see in self-defense are the idiots who say, “If anyone breaks into my home, I’ll just shoot them.” If you know anyone who says that - stop listening to them right now. The person who says that does not have training like SWAT or special forces, they don’t know what they’re doing. They are speaking out of fear and bravado.

So you’re telling me in the dead of night with your adrenaline spiking you can rip that C-pap machine off, gather your family, secure your firearm, take up a shooting position, identify your target and what’s beyond it, tell them to leave, and make accurate shots all while in the dark while only in your underpants? Does that sound like overconfidence? Yes, yes it does.

This is why you take precautions to make your home a hard target so that you don’t have to do any of what I just mentioned. Plus home defense doesn’t have to involve gunshots. Just sayin’.

You may be thinking, “So Andy am I not really my own first responder? Am I supposed to just wait for the police to show up? Am I really just a victim in waiting?” Hold up bro, chill.

You are your family’s first line of defense as a protector parent. What I’m cautioning you to remember is that you may not be as good as you daydream that you are. You may not be John McClane.

I want you to have confidence in your real abilities. And that means getting uncomfortable and getting training in first-aid, self-defense, and situational awareness. Because when it really matters I want you to be a hero by driving away from an enraged driver, talking your way out of a fight, and securing your home so that criminals can’t get in.

That’s what real heroes do, they choose safety every day in small ways to mitigate the risk so that there’s no conflict. This is the core of being a protector parent.

You can take heroic actions to protect and save lives. You are just not an action movie hero. And that’s okay.

Watch The Podcast


Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.


Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

Get Updates from Andy
bottom of page