This blog originally appeared here: We Can All Be Superheroes – emileferlisi
For the most part, these creative artists have figured out what makes people great. Comic writers have taken these truths and wrapped them up in beautiful contexts, back stories, settings and problems to be solved. They’ve also had popular actors portray them on screen. But what makes superheroes great? What components of their greatness can we harness and apply to our own lives?
Superheroes know what their gifts are. They’ve learned what their super power is and they’ve figured out how to apply their power to make the world a better place. Now, we’re not going to battle super villains, but to be great we’ll have to find exactly what skill or skills we can offer the world to make it a better place.
Superheroes work on perfecting the use of their power(s). Whether it’s been through deliberate practice or iteration as they’ve applied themselves to defeating their enemies, superheroes have put in the work, they’ve mastered experiential learning by reflecting on their experiences and applying their new learning – if they didn’t, they’d never get past the scene where they’re defeated or nearly defeated. If we want to be great, we’re going to have to apply our special talents, a lot. We’re going to have to use our skills, fail, reflect, apply the new learning, rinse and repeat. Call it grit, growth mindset or sticktoitiveness. Whatever you call it (experiential learning fits in here too) we’re going to have to do it.
Superheroes become their purpose; they commit their being to it. Now the work-life balance people won’t like hearing this, but it’s how real greatness is achieved. I won’t be a hypocrite, I’m a dad and I like to say that I’m a father first. But the reality is that greatness is only achieved through commitment. Superheroes don’t max out their sick days, cut corners, ask for frivolous extensions or show up chronically late. The line between self and purpose is blurred for superheroes because they’re committed to their purpose, they’re committed to being great. When you’re sharing your gifts with the world, when you’re living your purpose, there is a blurred line, if any, between who you are and what you do. If that sounds crazy to you perhaps it’s only because you haven’t been able to find your super power, YET.
Superheroes spend time with other superheroes or those who support their purpose. They also choose no company over bad company. Being realistic, we don’t want to be snobs, we don’t want to be perceived as arrogant; we can’t live as if we don’t need others. But the lesson from our made-up mentors is simple: choose your friends wisely. Superheroes are reclusive if and when necessary. When they are not alone, they surround themselves with those who can support their purpose (think of Batman’s Alfred) or others with a similar purpose who they can make a difference with, learn from and develop with (think of the Justice League or Avengers). It’s pretty straightforward: if we want to be great, we have to choose great company, whenever possible, just like superheroes do.
There may never be a comic or movie about you, but you can still apply the habits and mindsets that make superheroes great to your own life. And maybe that means we can all be superheroes, sorta’.