I have just considered the examples of David and Daniel, two Old Testament heroes that found their great calling in life, and did so in ways that were both different and similar to each other.
David decided to fill the role of a hero as a conscious and deliberate choice. The behavior of everyone else around him was to shrink and be fearful, and he could have easily done the same, but he set himself apart and elected something different. That election elevated David above the norm and made him stand out.
Daniel decided to hold to his principles, also as a conscious and deliberate choice. At first these principles were the everyday expectation of his culture, but then Israel fell into the hands of strangers and those norms rapidly dropped out from underneath Daniel. Daniel still held to them, though, setting himself apart to maintain this same level, even while the world fell beneath him.
In each case, David and Daniel set themselves apart. Whether in embracing a new behavior or in maintaining an old one they were standing for what was right, and doing so at a level that was higher than those who surrounded them. And this seems to be what defines the epic life, the hero, the divine calling. It is to do the right thing when others will not.
This is Noah building an ark when no one else was. This was Joseph turning down temptation in Potiphar’s house. This was Ruth leaving her old culture to live as a Jew. This was Jesus not throwing a stone at the woman taken in adultery. These were all heroes. And what made them heroes was that they did what was right even though it was different from what everyone else was doing.