Archive for October, 2010


As a superhero you are naturally inclined to help people. You see someone struggling with their groceries, you run over and help them. Someone is having a tough month so you offer to take them to lunch or bring by some extras you made for yourself. Sometimes people appreciate it, but other times they are offended by your gesture.So how are you supposed to know when someone truly needs help and if they are willing to accept it?

Unfortunately, we live in a society (I’m speaking to the West, primarily the U.S. here) where people are expected to always strive and struggle alone. Where needing  help or asking for it are considered sins and where helping people is an altruistic duty–but only so long as those people are willing to refuse that help. It makes no sense. Everyone struggles at least once in their life. Stuff happens outside of our control–layoffs, accidents, death–and once in a while we need a hand. It doesn’t make a person less hardworking, less noble, less anything. The only requirement in my mind is to pay it forward.

There is no shame in asking for help, nor is there anything negative about offering assistance (no-strings attached of course). I say that a hero should always try to help, even if it means facing ridicule. It’s better than the alternative–pretending everything is okay and ignoring those in need.

What about you–would you offer your help even if it meant facing ridicule or scorn?

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Why do superheroes need to wear masks? Typically masks are a symbol of shame, but often the hero chooses to wear a mask in order to protect his or her identity. It is that need to wear a mask–that fear of being known and putting yourself and loved ones in danger–that keeps most from ever attempting a superhero life. Very few ever own their superhero status. Tony Stark felt no shame or fear when he said “I am Ironman,” but most superheroes find it difficult to tell even the people closest to them that they are indeed a hero in disguise.

Fighting crime incognito wouldn’t be such a big deal if it didn’t make things hard for the hero. How many dates did Peter Parker miss? How hard was it for Bruce Wayne to keep a girl? Why did no one ever figure out that Clark Kent and Superman were never in the same place at the same time (wrong post–another question for another time). Of course there is always the alternative–a laundry list of villains who not only know who you are, but where you live, work, and who you care about most. It’s sad that heroes have to wear masks, and it’s sad that we live in a world where we need heroes at all but I am glad heroes do exist. Hopefully one day more will be able to live in plain sight.

Here’s to a world full of people willing to proclaim “I choose to be a Hero!”

Being a superhero can easily become a full-time job. If you don’t watch it, you can find yourself spending so much time-saving the world that you ignore the ones who love you most. Like Peter Parker flaking out on Mary Jane and Batman losing girl after girl, a hero who doesn’t make home a priority ends up a tortured soul. Saving the world is a noble thing, but taking care of your obligations and honoring the ones that matter most to you is nobler.

To keep family and friends a priority and still meet your superhero obligations, follow a few guidelines:

  1. First Come First Serve: The first one to ask you for your time should get it. So, if you already have plans with your wife and the charity you volunteer for needs help they’ll just have to wait until next time. Of course, emergencies take precedence and sometimes things happen, just make sure you don’t always have an excuse for not spending times with the ones you love.
  2. Keep Your Obligations to a Manageable Number: The more you put on your plate, the harder it is to keep up with everything. To keep from going insane and to make sure you can always meet your obligations only commit to a few (this way you also ensure you have some time for yourself).
  3. Learn to Say No: This is an exceptionally difficult thing for some people, but a true superhero masters the art of saying no. At first it may be hard, and you may think people hate you for it, but in the end you will see that they appreciate your honesty and your commitment to keeping your priorities straight.
  4. Reflect: It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind, which is why you need to stop every once in a while and take stock of what matters most, compare it to your daily activities, and make sure that the choices you make are in-line with your values.

Remember, the best thing you can do for the world is to love and cherish the ones close to you. A good world starts with a happy family, strong friendships, and safe communities. That’s why superheroes know that the first rule of being a superhero is to put loved ones first.

Saturday October 23rd is Make a Difference Day. Although I think its great to take a day to purposefully reflect on ways we can make a POSITIVE difference in the world, I think a much better approach is to make it a lifestyle change. Making a difference should be a way of life, not just a one day affair. One day of good deeds is not enough to undo a year’s worth of injustice, ignorance, and apathy. We need to strive to make a difference 24/7, 365 (plus one extra day of superhero antics every leap year).

So yes, please stop on Saturday and think of ways to make a difference and then ACT on them, but don’t stop there. Think of ways to make it a part of your life. Small acts repeated over time have a snowball effect, eventually resulting in major and lasting change. So instead of only celebrating Make a Difference Day, why don’t you take the pledge to be a hero and make a difference for life!

Mean People Suck

We’ve all seen the bumper sticker that poignantly declares “mean people suck” and I doubt that anyone who has ever read that bumper sticker disagreed. Then why are there so many mean people in the world and why do they get away with it? The mean people phenomenon is not new nor is it isolated to reality television (which seems to lift mean, idiotic people up on a pedestal). No unfortunately mean people can be anywhere, from the checkout line at the local store to your kids school or public events. I see these people and wonder, first of all do they realize they are mean and second how come no one ever tells them so?

Enter me.

I can’t help it. I have to say something. Just because someone has gotten away with being a jackass for years doesn’t make it acceptable and just because I don’t know them doesn’t mean that I don’t have the right to say something. If your bad attitude is mucking up my day I have the right to stand up and say “stop being so rude” (or something to that affect).  So yes, when some snotty woman is laying in to a cashier who has no control over the return policy I say something and when someone is letting their kids push and shove and run into people I am going to say something and if someone insults another person’s intelligence I will point blank question theirs because someone needs to put an end to the unnecessary meanness. Someone has to say “mean people suck and right now sir/madam you are sucking something fierce.” Either that or I have to start carrying around a bumper sticker that I can shove in front of their face. Frankly, I find flat out saying you’ve crossed the line to be both more effective and gratifying.

So maybe this isn’t the most heroic thing I do, but sometimes heroes have to piss people off to make a change and I have no qualms pissing off someone who is being rude to another person who doesn’t deserve it. So I say, mean people do suck so instead of taking out your bad day or issues out on someone else practice the golden rule, otherwise the woman standing behind you in line might just call you out on it.

Superhero Pets

We’ve talked a great deal about the many ways people can be heroes, but we haven’t yet talked about how our four legged friends can also do amazing things for each other and their human counterparts. Many animals, dogs especially, have come to the aide of humans and other animals time and time again. They deserve our love and respect just as much as humans.  Here are a couple of videos to prove my point–animals can be heroes too–and many thanks to my friend David Daniel for reminding me about the first video.

After a committee composed of five persons reviewed this year’s nominees, they have finally announced that Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo is the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.  Liu is currently serving an 11 year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power.” Liu was imprisoned in December of 2009 for his peaceful efforts to improve human rights in China. Liu learned of his award from his guards. Shortly after his wife was allowed to visit him in prison.

Liu demonstrates that being hero does not require force or violence. His constant vigilance, activism, and now his imprisonment and Nobel award have helped bring world attention to the human rights issue rampant in China. He is an example for us to follow. We should never be afraid to stand up for what we belive in. We should also look for peaceful ways to stand up for ourselves and others. The world is full of enough violence. The Nobel Peace Prize lives on to remind us that peace is possible so long as people are actively pursuing it.

Congratulations Liu. We hope that soon you will enjoy your freedom, but even more we hope that you will see your efforts realized in a fair and just China.

We’ve already talked about how heroes come in many shapes and sizes, but superheroes also become heroes for different reasons. The reasons are as varied as the type of heroes they become, but for the most part they can be broken down into two groups: proactive and reactive.

Proactive Heroes

Proactive heroes have a strong sense of justice and humanity. They see something wrong with the world and go out and look for ways to fix it. They have no other motivation than the fact that something in their heart is compelling them forward. It’s just something they have to do.

Reactive Heroes

The reactive hero, as the name suggests, becomes a hero in reaction to something. Usually it’s because of an injustice they experienced or one that was done to someone they care about. They react in a positive manner, doing everything they can to make sure that no one else has to endure the hardship they endured. It’s not that they were uncaring before, it’s just that now it is a personal mission and a way to take charge of the hurt inflicted on them.

Both heroes are noble and valuable even if they adopted their missions for very different reasons. So long as they are out their advocating for a better world it doesn’t matter why they became a hero. What does matter is that the world is better because of them.

Trust is a rare thing nowadays. Who can blame us with government and corporate corruption, scams preying on the elderly and unemployed, and crime television showing the worst for the worst in our society. What we don’t see are the millions of good, honest people who deserve trust and respect in return. It’s time to start rebuilding a culture of trust, but before you can learn to trust someone else you must first learn to trust in yourself.

You may not think its important but it is. A person who doesn’t believe in their own abilities cannot believe in someone else. Unfortunately, not everyone has a support system, a person or group who believes in their abilities and supports them in the journey to reach their potential. You have to believe in yourself if you ever want to have the life you want and if you ever expect someone else to trust you.

Start today by learning to:

  • Trust in Your Abilities: Each of us has a unique set of skills and talents. No two artists paint the same way, no two business men approach business the same way. What you have no one else has and no one else can give what you can give. Trust in your ability to provide something wonderful to the world.
  • Trust in Your Heart: You know what’s best for you. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Trust in your heart to tell which path to take.
  • Trust in Your Power to Learn and do Better: We all make mistakes, but even a terrible mistake isn’t the end of us. Trust in your ability to learn from your mistake and to use that knowledge to improve and do better next time.
  • Trust in Your Value: You matter. Despite your faults, mistakes, or even if anyone else recognizes it you matter. Trust that you bring value to this world, significant value, that cannot be replaced.

There will be times when your belief in yourself falters. You will have to remind yourself of your abilities, your heart, your ability to improve, and your value but you must if you ever want to achieve the superhero life.

We’ve all been there. Those moments when your behavior or performance is less than stellar. When you strut across an open bar not realizing your skirt is tucked into your underwear. When you attempt a feat of athletic skill only to end up in a firm faceplant on a gravel road while the Adonis or Aphrodite of your dreams looks on. The reply all button on a private email, the off color comment, the costly mistake on your quarterly report. Yeah, we’ve all been there.

What sets the hero apart is how they react to those less than heroic moments. No two heroes handle a bad situation the same way, and what works best for you depends on your comfort level and the severity of your infraction, but for those moments you don’t know what to do here are a few ideas:

  • Take a Bow: Make light of the situation and accept the sarcastic and well deserved applause. Whether you like it or not, your mistake just made someone’s day. Might as well take credit.
  • Assume Responsibility: Heroes aren’t perfect. In fact, it’s the imperfections that we love most. When you screw up–and yes you will on many occasions–accept responsibility and do everything in your power to rectify the situation. We respect those who falter and remedy the situation with grace more than the perfect specimen who never makes a mistake.
  • Move On: When something goes wrong, don’t dwell on the situation. Obsessing only makes things worse and keeps you from moving forward to bigger and better things.
  • Learn From It: We don’t learn from our success. We learn from our failures. Assess the situation with an objective eye and see which insights can be gleaned from your misstep.

Above all, take your bad moments with grace and keep plowing ahead. We can’t be perfect all the time and lets face it. Perfect is boring, and heroes don’t do boring.