Saturday mornings were a special treat for me when I was growing up. That’s because they meant two things: no school and cartoons. Today’s youth can’t relate in this age of always-on self-serve entertainment. But back in the day we didn’t have instant access to everything. If there was a show we liked, we had […]
Saturday mornings were a special treat for me when I was growing up. That’s because they meant two things: no school and cartoons.
Today’s youth can’t relate in this age of always-on self-serve entertainment. But back in the day we didn’t have instant access to everything. If there was a show we liked, we had to wait for it to air. And for me, Saturday was that day.
One of my favorite shows was Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. I was a long-time Spider-Man fan going back to the first time I saw him on The Electric Company. In fact, Spider-Man was the first superhero I was ever introduced to.
So you can imagine my excitement when I got the chance to see Spider-Man in action in his own cartoon.
That cartoon was responsible for introducing me to Spider-Man’s creator, Stan Lee. You see, Stan Lee narrated those shows himself and I began to look forward to hearing his familiar voice saying “ok, true-believers” almost as much as seeing Spider-Man’s action-packed adventures. I even tried my best to imitate that voice.
Stan Lee became my idol. I dreamed of what it would be like to create comics. One day, while I was a middle school student, I decided to try my hand at it. I’m no artist mind you, so my sketches were rough, but pretty soon I had a few concepts.
My first superhero was Phoenix Man. His powers were similar to Firestar—one of Spider-Man’s “amazing friends”. Like Firestar, he had the ability to shoot fire from his body. Unlike Firestar, my character needed a little assistance to achieve flight. He wore wings on his back that allowed him to direct the fire from his body, giving him rocket-like propulsion.
I created a “fabulous first issue” of “JC Comics” using blank sheets of paper and a pack of colored pencils. Phoenix Man was the featured hero.
Ashes to Ashes
I wish I still had that hand-drawn comic book, but like so many childhood memories, it got lost along the way. In fact, by all appearances, Phoenix Man died along with my dreams of being a comic book creator. But…when you channel a creature whose power lies in rising from ashes, you can never be counted out.
Phoenix Man would rise again.
Years later—April of 2016 in fact—I was in Phoenix, AZ and I woke up with this question on my mind. “What kind of Beast are you?” I intuited one answer to that question was “Phoenix”. I mean, all the signs pointed to it. I was in Phoenix, first of all. Second, I had one of the most vivid dreams of my life back in 2011 about the Spirit of the Phoenix. And finally, I had received a t-shirt in 2011 and a medallion in 2015 both with the symbol of the Phoenix on them.
On that morning, all of the numerous times Phoenix showed up in my life came to mind—except one. I had completely forgotten about Phoenix Man.
Nonetheless, I got excited about finding my Inner Beast. I made a video series about it and wrote a book, The Beast Code. Nearly a year of working on that project still didn’t jog my memory.
Finally, as I was working on my marketing strategy for promoting my book and my online community, Phoenix Man began to emerge from the smoldering embers of my childhood dreams.
The Return of the Phoenix
I realized that helping people find their Inner Beasts is really like helping them find their superpowers. So I began using the “find your superpower” language in my marketing.
Shortly after launching that campaign, I stood outside a movie theater captivated by the Justice League poster.
It was the way they incorporated each hero’s symbol that caught my eye. That’s when it hit me. Once people know their superpower, the only difference between them and a real superhero is a symbol.
So I decided to give these superheroes symbols. And what was the first symbol available for purchase? You guessed it!
Once I saw that symbol on a t-shirt, the memory of my childhood creation finally resurfaced in my consciousness. I remembered Phoenix Man.
A Dream Come True
More importantly, I remembered my childhood dream—to be like Stan Lee. And I suddenly realized my childhood dream had come true!
How am I like Stan Lee? Glad you asked.
Stan Lee creates superheroes in a fictional comic book and cinematic universe. I create superheroes in our real universe by helping them recognize the superpowers they already possess.
The dream I thought was dead and buried quietly resurrected itself through me. Now I get to live it.
Do you remember the dreams you had as a child? You know, before you had to “get practical”? If you’ve forgotten them, don’t worry. They’re still there. Don’t be surprised if they rise from the ashes.
“Before you learned that it was painful to dream because you could never get what you really wanted from life, you had a dream of who you would become, what you might do with your life when you grew up.
You have never given up on that dream. You have simply forgotten it.”
-Gerry Starnes, Author of Spirit Paths: The Quest for Authenticity
Ok true believers… Now it’s your turn to discover your superpower. Follow this link to take my 3-day video challenge. After you enter your email address, I’ll take you step-by-step through the process to discover what makes you superhuman.
Spirit Paths: The Quest for Authenticity by Gerry Starnes
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a superhero? With profits from Marvel and DC movies worldwide topping $17 Billion, chances are you have.
If you’ve watched any of the modern superhero genre, you’ve seen the producers’ and directors’ best attempt to adapt the comic book world into a world that more closely resembles our own. The result is a look and feel that gives the viewer a perspective on what life would really be like with superpowered beings both protecting and endangering us mere mortals.
Bringing Comics to Life
The genre has certainly evolved over the years. I remember watching Batman as a kid which was not much more than a live-action comic strip. The costumes were Halloween-ish, the dialogue was cheesy, and the action was campy—complete with “Pow”, “Bam”, and “Biff” sound effects.
Those comic elements are gone from the Dark Knight my kids see. Today, Batman is regarded as a serious superhero—one who can keep up with and even best the most powerful foes.
Studying how the adaptation of Batman has evolved on screen over the years is a good study in how the concept of a superhero might be adapted to real life. Batman is a good subject because he is an actual human with no superpowers—just like us.
The Hero’s Journey
So how could Bruce Wayne’s journey to becoming Batman apply to a real person becoming a superhero? First, and most importantly, he has a cause which stems from his tragic backstory.
Your story doesn’t have to be as tragic as losing your parents to criminal violence at a young age. Your cause could be anything in the world you think could be different and should be different. If you have a vision of a better future and a willingness to become involved in making it happen, you’re one step closer to being a superhero.
By the way, if you’ve ever complained about anything, that qualifies you as a visionary and may be a clue leading you to your cause.
Next, Bruce Wayne has nearly unlimited financial resources. This fact made for one of the funnier scenes in Justice League (2017). When Barry Allen (The Flash) asks Bruce Wayne: “What are your superpowers again?” Bruce Wayne simply replies, “I’m rich.”
But in real life, you don’t have to be rich to become a superhero. Sure, it might help, but it’s not necessary. The kinds of superheroes who make things happen with limited to no resources are called entrepreneurs, and I talk more about that in a previous post.
Another thing Bruce Wayne has is an impressive set of skills. He’s got combat skills, detective skills, technical skills… He’s managed to cram several lifetimes of training into one. And while this may be technically possible, it is not feasible for the average person. Besides, few would have the resources to be able to afford such training as we just mentioned.
This level of training is also not necessary to become a superhero. What is needed, however, is a determination to wake up each day and do something to move closer to making your vision a reality.
Finally, Bruce Wayne has a disguise—an alter-ego that completes his transformation into a superhero called Batman.
This is also another element that does not adapt well to real life. If you put on a mask and started beating up criminals in dark alleys you’re likely to get yourself killed. It’s entertaining in comic books and movies but it just doesn’t go over well in the real world.
The One Thing They Have…
But…there is one aspect of Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego that we can adapt to our concept of a real-life superhero. Bruce Wayne tells us what this is in Batman Begins (2005).
“People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I’m flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol… as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.”
Adopting a symbol is the last step in becoming a real-life superhero.
In The Wizard of Oz (1939), Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion thought their lack of brains, a heart, and courage respectively kept them from being all they wanted to be. The Wizard helped them realize they each had what they wanted all along. All he gave them were symbols to remind them of this fact. He gave a diploma to Scarecrow, a testimonial to Tin Man, and a medal to Cowardly Lion.
Before The Wizard bestowed these gifts upon our heroes, he compared them to thinkers, heroes and phi…phila…er…good-deed-doers. He revealed that it was not brains, courage, or heart that separated them. The only things that separated them were symbolic representations or reminders of the attributes each character already possessed.
In the end, that’s all that separates you from a superhero. It’s not special skills or abilities, unlimited resources, or fancy gadgets. The only thing they’ve got that you haven’t is a symbol—a reminder of the power you already have within you to follow your vision, overcome any obstacle, and change the world for the better.
To find the symbol that’s right for you, go to the Wild Gear store. There you’ll find t-shirts, hoodies, coffee mugs, phone cases—all kinds of merchandise so you never forget the superhero you are. Wear your symbol on your chest, or place it somewhere else in sight.
If you’re not sure what symbol is right for you, take my 3-day video challenge to figure out what symbolizes your unique superpower. Finally, if you don’t find your symbol in the Wild Gear store, email me at email@example.com and let me know so we can consider adding it as a future design to our ever-growing collection.
“You’re next, Superman!”
What? I snapped out of my daydream just long enough to realize the man behind the car rental counter was talking to me. I smiled and walked forward.
He called me “Superman” because my chest bore the coat-of-arms of the fictional Kryptonian of the same name. My sons bought me that t-shirt for my birthday and I’ve been proudly wearing it ever since.
That shirt is one of my favorites. It reminds me of my sons, not only because they bought it for me, but also because we have a longstanding tradition of seeing every superhero movie that comes out.
But aside from that, I have to admit, something about wearing that symbol makes me feel inspired. Superman possesses incredible power and even more incredible integrity. He represents the quintessential good guy and it feels good to be associated with that imagery. It also doesn’t hurt when people call me “Superman”.
When I was a kid, I entertained the idea that if I had a cape like Superman, maybe I’d be able to fly. As an adult, I know that dressing like Superman won’t make me faster, stronger, or bulletproof. I know this because…Superman is not real.
But…that doesn’t mean superheroes aren’t real.
Yes, there are real superheroes. You won’t find them emerging from phone booths wearing colorful tights, capes, or emblems on their chests. You’ll find them in all walks of life, turning visions into reality, changing lives, and even disrupting industries. Who are these superheroes?
They are Entrepreneurs.
Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson describes this superpower by saying:
“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”
In other words, these super beings make big world-changing things happen even if they start with little or nothing. Creating something from nothing sounds like a magical superpower—or at least a sufficiently advanced technology that is indistinguishable from magic.
Consider Patrick from Uganda in 2004. He created a business that ended up creating jobs for several people in his small village. And he built it from the ground up—literally.
You see, Patrick was orphaned along with his brother at an early age. One day he sat on the ground wondering if he would get to eat that day. He had very little—not even shoes for his feet.
As he sat on the ground, he noticed the dirt beneath his fingers. He grabbed some makeshift tools—a broad, flat piece of wood and some scrap metal—and started to dig.
He noticed not all of the dirt was the same. Some of the dirt had more clay in it and he noticed when he mixed it with water, he could work with it—shape it.
Pretty soon he made his first bricks. The first ones weren’t pretty. They were misshapen and crumbled easily. But he kept at it. He kept trying and he kept experimenting.
Eventually, he made some bricks that someone was willing to pay him for. He got less than a penny per brick. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to inspire Patrick to keep going.
His first business investment he made with savings from his earnings was a brick mold. The bricks he made with it had a much better shape and fetched a higher price.
His next investment was a book of matches. He got some kindling wood and used the bricks he made to hold the heat in—a makeshift kiln. The fired bricks were stronger than the previous ones he had baked in the sun and they fetched an even higher price.
Patrick kept going and soon he invested in better tools like a shovel and trowel. Eventually he was able to hire his brother. By the time the author of Clay Water Brick, Jessica Jackley met him, he had a thriving business that employed several people in his village. He had even built a house for himself out of the bricks he made.
This heroic journey inspires me far more than that of a space alien with abilities I can only imagine. Patrick’s story is so inspiring because there was nothing special about him. He had no parents. He had no money. He had no education or special skills.
What Patrick did have was the ability to look around him and see opportunity where others saw nothing but dirt. But most importantly, he had the ability to look at himself and get past all the things he lacked and see someone powerful enough to change his situation.
I am inspired because Patrick’s example reveals a superpower that we all have—the power to choose.
Patrick chose to become an Entrepreneur. His choice changed not only his life, but the lives of the people he ultimately employed.
I also choose. I choose to be like Patrick. I choose to wear the Entrepreneur title with pride. I choose to see opportunity amidst the obstacles.
Finally, I choose to recognize that it is the birthright of every human being to exercise that same superpower. So as you read this, I have only one thing left to say to you…
“Hey Entrepreneur! You’re next!”
P.S. To help you tap into your superpower, I have a FREE 3-day video challenge. Just follow the link, enter your email address, and each day for 3 days I’ll send you a video to walk you step-by-step through the process of finding your unique superpower.