The superheroes’ guide to becoming a hero
I’ve never been into comic book heroes, even as a kid.
I’ll tell you why: I’ve always rejected the model of ordinary citizens sitting around waiting for one hero to come and save the day. I’m of the every common man a hero school of thought.
But when you stop overthinking it (as I’m clearly prone to do) and view superheroes as archetypes from which we can apply lessons for ourselves, there’s much to learn from them.
Superman: The Lesson of Origin
Growing up, Clark Kent always felt special, but he had no idea why. He had a sense of his gifts, but didn’t know what to do with them.
He became Superman the moment he discovered where he came from and who he really was. He rose to greatness when he realized that his origin, his gifts, and his destiny were superhuman.
And so it is with you and I. We rise to greatness when we realize that we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but rather spiritual beings having a human experience.
We cast off human nature, fear, doubt, and worry and stand in our godly power when we remember our origins and embrace our destiny as children of God.
(Side note: The counter-archetype to Superman is Esau, who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. We, too, relinquish our birthright when we sell out for the pottage of comfort and security.)
Spider-Man: The Lesson of Transformation
Peter Parker became a superhero after he was bitten by a radioactive spider. The poison should have killed him, but he transformed the poison into power.
We, too, are pierced and wounded by poisonous bites throughout our lives: abuse or neglect from parents, harsh treatment from peers, trauma from tragic accidents.
We can let the poison debilitate and kill us, or mutate us into something bigger, better, stronger. The poison can render us helpless victims, or transform us into powerful victors.
Batman: The Lesson of Facing and Conquering Fear
Bruce Wayne received intense training under Ra’s al Ghul to develop the mindset skills required to fight criminals and save lives.
But his transformation from mere human to extraordinary hero wasn’t complete until he faced and conquered his greatest fear. You know the famous scene.
So, too, can you and I develop a mindset and skills — but until we face and conquer our greatest fears, we will always be ordinary.
Far more important than skill development is a disposition and willingness to face fears head on — to feel the fear and do it anyway. That will take us much farther in life than any skills, however advanced and valuable.
The Hulk: The Lesson of Leaning Into Obstacles
I don’t much care for the colossal humanoid’s underlying psychology of rage, but I do find a lesson in how the Hulk operates.
The greater the obstacles he faces, the bigger, stronger, and more determined he becomes. Instead of shrinking from obstacles, he leans into them.
When faced with obstacles, do we tuck our little tails between our scurrying little legs and yip away like cowardly little Chihuahuas? Or do we square our shoulders, plant our feet, put our heads down, and push with tremendous heart like a courageous hero?
I believe with all my heart and soul that every common man and woman was born to be a hero. But that outcome is not an inevitable destiny — it is a choice.