The Superhero Myth
One of the common small talk questions is:
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
We thought about it as kids. We still think about it as adults.
I think the most common answer is flying. Or maybe to travel through time. Maybe to see through walls or all kinds of things that we see in superhero literature.
Is it harmless to think about the superhero world? It probably is for most people, but I think there is a danger and I think many people are falling into the trap.
Quick Fix Mindset
Progress in life is slow. I like reading biographies of successful people. Usually businesspeople and sometimes musicians. One of the things that is very common in their stories is patience. They almost universally have the patience and persistence to follow through on what they want in life.
In business, we often look at the Inc. 500 list and dream about fast growing companies. But some of the most successful companies, like Southwest Airlines, focused on disciplined growth. They actually slowed their growth, which seems crazy to think about today.
With superheroes or superpowers, we think about quick fixes. We think that if we only had some magically ability that we would be able to do what we want in life. This is harmless most of the time, but it can have a limiting effect on our lives. It can make us feel hopeless and that something isn’t worth doing.
There really isn’t a secret to success in life. It’s just getting to work doing what you want to be doing. Tiger Woods may seem like a golfing superhero now, but early on even he had to hit his first shot. It probably wasn’t very good. He just got busy doing it everyday and eventually he reached the place where he is now.
If you find yourself waiting for some spark of inspiration or some magic sign that you’re good at something it could be limiting you in your ability to just begin.
The classic superhero tale is that the hero saves the people. It’s a victim’s mindset to think that you have to rely on other people to save you. You take the control out of your life and give it to others. In the case of a superhero, you’re giving the control to really nobody at all and it can lead to you just ambling through life without any purpose or direction.
Obviously there are certain instances when someone happens that’s out of our control. But having the mindset that success is something that happens to you is falling into a trap. You define your own success. You determine if you work toward that definition everyday.
Sometimes I’ll hear people complain about their lot in life. Their jobs. The economy. Things like that. I just look kind of blankly at them waiting for the subject to change. In my mind I’m thinking, “What is stopping you from doing something?”
Nobody is tying you down and stopping you from working toward your success. It’s almost like a form or procrastination. Success is almost always difficult and because of that people often look for ways to procrastinate.
And one common form is to blame something vague like the economy.
The big takeaway here is that you’re in control. You don’t need to wait for a superhero to come and rescue you. You don’t need to wait for your superpower to come in the future. There aren’t many secrets in life. Things worth doing are often difficult and time consuming. And even then nothing is guaranteed. That’s the only realization you need to start on your own journey to success.