Some superpowers aren’t as showy as others, but they can be more important than the other gifts altogether. This especially goes for the simple ability to stand back up after taking a solid punch. Most people can probably relate to how hard this can actually be.
Following the release of the Wonder Woman movie this summer, women around the world finally had a “True North” film representation of an unapologetically powerful woman. A woman so powerful she didn’t know any other way to be. Many woman have found inspiration in Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot’s newly reborn icon, and have come to identify with her, even drawing strength from that representation in times of crisis. What would Wonder Woman do?
“Leadership Futurist,” Dr. Patti Fletcher, recently posted a piece in the publication, Entrepreneur, about “how to be a real-life Wonder Woman.” Here, Dr. Fletcher profiles high-level executives who use the idea of a “Wonder Woman” (themselves) and she describes their take on how to navigate a crisis. Most of the advice seems fairly straightforward and even boilerplate: “don’t let fear rule” or “project confidence” or “break down the problem into pieces.”
These are all excellent bits of advice, but most of us aren’t leaders of industry, or even in a position to control a vast amount of what goes on in our lives. The audience in the case was for people who are decision makers, with the power to enact these high-level, executive decisions. But, most of us are just trying to hang on, so when a crisis hits, we’re flat out stuck in the water, seemingly without a breeze or a paddle. We can’t necessarily order a response and have people hop to it.
Some of us are moms who are holding down two jobs while going to school and raising kids. Some of us are part of the “gig economy” where security is a unimaginable luxury. Some of us are military, either deployed or transitioning to civilian life – maybe with visible or invisible wounds, and with all the challenges that go to with both. In all these cases, identification with a superhero can help us find vast reserves within ourselves to go an extra mile or even uncork hidden talents while under great pressure.
However, sometimes, being the superhero can be too much – when we’re trying to take care of and protect everyone we love, alone, and against the onslaught that comes at us without respite. Here, then, we fall to a “Superhero Mentality,” that we can’t possibly maintain. And when this happens, we are in crisis, not merely a participant or witness to one.
When it’s bone on bone, that’s what Saving the Superhero is trying to get at.
Because, at the end of the fight, even if she loses, Wonder Woman gets back up again. Even if he dies Superman ultimately comes back to life. We need them to, because we need to.
See, Wonder Woman and Superman have a lot of different kinds of powers. They’re pretty much invincible. But maybe their most vital, important, and even replicable power (for the rest of us) is that of enduring. Despite the odds. Solving problems comes after, and that’s when the superhero calls in backup.
This is a meditation on how we identify with superheroes in our everyday lives. If you have a comment, let’s start a conversation. I don’t have all the answers, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.