How to Be Your Own Superhero in 2016

Unleash your actual, awesome, everyday super powers. Here's how.

By Lisa Calhoun

New Year’s resolutions melted somewhere in my mind with the movie trailers. Have you reviewed the upcoming onslaught of Superman, Batman, Kung-fu Panda, Captain AmericaStar Wars and more super-powered superstars? It’s enough to give a basic, boring businessperson like me an inferiority complex.

It also made me think about what the real-life superheroes around me do.


Every day, some brilliant person shares something with me that’s smarter, sharper, and stronger than what I already know how to do. I love that. Last week, eating lunch at Atlanta Tech Village, a startup marketing person told me I’d shared a post on Linkedin that was a game-changer. I glowed. That’s everyday super. Are you using your inherent superpower—sharing—as much as you want to this year?


No matter which alien powers or super-skills your favorite hero has, one thing all heroes have in common is uncommon commitment. Whether you’re a Katniss Everdeen fan, an Ender’s Game groupie, or a journeyman Jedi, committing to being that person who makes it happen is central to all the big stories. Which actions or outcomes are you unquestionably committed to making happen this year?


Another super-moment from the big screen stories is the hero, weeping. There’s always that point, when all is lost, when the team is under siege, when the dark lord is laughing (you know, a basso profondo moo-hoo-hahahaaa with a Gregorian chant building in the background) . . .

I always hate this part—I’m sure you do, too. Yet, without it, how do you know the quality of the heroism? Mark Manson tapped this idea of pain when he wrote that the most critical question to determine your own life’s trajectory is to get honest with yourself about what you’re willing to cry about. He said, “If I ask you, ‘What do you want out of life?’ and you say something like, ‘I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,’ it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.”

A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.

I think that’s spot on. We all want a lot of the same components of happiness—health, wealth, a great relationship, professional significance. Our paths to our joys are more individualized by the types of pain we can tolerate to get there. For Elon Musk, for example, he says pure hours are his preferred pain: “Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80 to 100 hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40 hour work weeks and you’re putting in 100 hour work weeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing you know that… you will achieve in 4 months what it takes them a year to achieve.”

That thought brings up another superhero move that translates well from the big screen to the personal stage:

Get help.

Batman has Robin and Alfred. Superman has Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. Katniss has her mom, Gale, and Peeta. She collects an entire army in The Hunger Games. The essential superhero move seems to be finding allies and accepting their support. Who’s on the posse supporting you being super at what you do? I enjoyed making the list of my personal dream team. I don’t mind telling you, just looking over their names penciled on notebook paper makes me feel happy. Try it.

Don’t give up.

Albert Einstein said, “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

You know, how many times have you heard an entrepreneur say the same thing? That luck, or timing, and persistence is why they have the success they have today? If there’s one superpower in real life that separates the heroes from the hoi polloi, it’s sticking with it. So when you know what you’re willing to struggle for, when you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people, and when you’re sharing the strange truths and strengths the journey brings you—you’re already a working, real life hero. I hope this year brings you face to face with just how super you already are.


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