If I had a childhood hero other than my father, it was Alexander the Great. I thought he was...well, great. Everything about his life and what he accomplished in so short of time (he died at the age of 33) was fascinating. What was most interesting to me is that for all his conquering from the Persia to India to Egypt, his real accomplishment was that he took the best of all cultures and forged them into a whole. Quite a feat for that time, when there was no centralized government, and communication across the distances took so long.
One of my favorite stories from his life is that of the Gordian Knot. Here is the legend as taken from Wikipedia.
"At one time the Phrygians were without a king. An oracle at Telmissus (the ancient capital of Phrygia) decreed that the next man to enter the city driving an ox-cart should become their king. A peasant farmer named Gordias drove into town on an ox-cart. His position had also been predicted earlier by an eagle landing on his cart, a sign to him from the gods, and on entering the city Gordias was declared king by the priests. In gratitude, his son Midas dedicated the ox-cartto the Phrygian god Sabazios (whom the Greeks identified with Zeus) and either tied it to a post or tied its shaft with an intricate knot of cornel (Cornus mas) bark. The ox-cart still stood in the palace of the former kings of Phrygia at Gordium in the fourth century BC when Alexander arrived, at which point Phrygia had been reduced to a satrapy, or province, of the Persian Empire.
"Several themes of myth converged on the chariot, as Robin Lane Fox remarks: Midas' was connected in legend with Alexander's native Macedonia, where the lowland 'Gardens of Midas" still bore his name, and the Phrygian tribes were rightly remembered as having once dwelt in Macedonia. So, in 333 BC, while wintering at Gordium, Alexander the Great attempted to untie the knot. When he could not find the end to the knot to unbind it, he sliced it in half with a stroke of his sword, producing the required ends (the so-called "Alexandrian solution"). That night there was a violent thunderstorm. Alexander's prophet Aristander took this as a sign that Zeus was pleased and would grant Alexander many victories. Once Alexander had sliced the knot with a sword-stroke, his biographers claimed in retrospect that an oracle further prophesied that the one to untie the knot would become the king of Asia."
Here is someone who could think outside the box. I know when I come up against something difficult whether it be a problem or an emotional situation, I visual Alexander's sword in my hand and I hack it to bits. The problem is then broken down into smaller pieces, the emotional situation less stressful.
The next time you have a tangle of plot threads you can't unravel, or you realize you have too many characters, or you're stressed about someone/something, visualize yourself wielding Alexander's sword and hack away to your Gordian Knot. It's great therapy.