I’ve always wanted to be the hero. My earliest memory is of me, at four years old, showing my cousins how to do the crane kick from the Karate Kid movie. Everyone was gathered around me, watching in amazement at my hero-like skills, as I leapt into the air performing the move flawlessly. Unlike Ralph Macchio however, I didn’t stick the landing and win The All Valley Tournament. I landed, lost my balance and fell into a pot of chicken grease my grandmother had used to cook us lunch that day, and had set aside in her back room so it could cool.
I remember the feeling of my skin burning, being scared, and the feeling of the cold water in the bathtub my parents put me in. I was rushed to the hospital where I spent 19 days with second and third degree burns all over my feet, legs and back. I would spend my days in and out of surgery, where doctors would peel off my dead skin and nurses would help me learn how to walk again.
I remember always being in pain, but apparently never without carrying two things. A smile and my Superman action figure. Every moment, of every day, he was with me. There wasn’t anything I did that he wasn’t a part of and ever since that time, I’ve been obsessed.
As I grew up, I no longer carried my Superman toy (I do however have a Superman tattoo) but the wanting to be a hero, just like him, never went away. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to fly, but I knew that my life was destined to be in the service of others.
For years I racked my brain about how I could make the biggest impact on this earth. I chose not to join the military and went to college instead, and even turned down joining after college. I tested for the Birmingham, AL police department and passed all phases with flying colors but decided to take a job in sales and move to Knoxville Tennessee, much to my wife’s relief. I started to believe that there wasn’t some grand purpose for my life.
Maybe there wasn’t a purpose for me at all.
Maybe I wasn’t destined to be Superman, but to be plain jane Clark Kent, a mild-mannered reporter (in my case sales guy) without the tights and cape under the suit.
Over the last 4 years, I’ve come to realize that many of us have had this sense of being created for something more. We’ve all had this idea that we were created for a higher purpose, something more than how we are currently living.
So what does the majority of us do?
We start searching for the role, the company, the title, the financial and social status that will finally allow us to live a life where we can give back. Make an impact.
The person we are now isn’t good enough yet. All we see are the things we don’t have, can’t offer, and that we aren’t at a point where anything we do will be great enough or big enough to really make a difference. Can I share something with you? This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I’ve studied leadership and purpose for over 5 years and have now realized that the idea of finding or living out our purpose has been drastically watered down. We’ve been made to believe that our position, title, or status determines our ability to live a life of purpose.
This is 100%, completely and totally FALSE!!!
Your profession, position or title isn’t your purpose. They don’t always intertwine. These things might be an avenue for your purpose, but don’t define it.
If you look back at the beginning of time, how language and civilization was formed, something becomes very clear.
We were all created for the same purpose.
Our shared purpose is to be in relationship with one another, to love and care for each other, so that we can prosper and thrive. Not merely survive this world but THRIVE in it!
In a world today that celebrates the selfie, only caring about yourself and your own priorities, this understanding of our true nature has been lost.
7 years ago I experienced the hurt and heartache of bad leadership. I was ridiculed and put down by people I wanted to emulate and who I considered mentors. I was made to feel less than, not good enough and worthless. It then became my mission to absorb everything I could about leadership so that I could be the best leader possible and share with others what leadership should truly look and feel like. I made it my mission to become someone who didn’t wait for a title to lead, but instead loved and lifted others up, in every situation and encounter. I would show that love is the key to leadership and to unlocking the greatness in others.
While sitting here writing this, I keep thinking about what made Superman such a great superhero. He was selfless. He cared for others regardless of how they felt about him. He showed up, every day, and used his gifts, talents and skills to protect, uplift and to inspired people to reach for more. Superman had a heart for others, and he used what he had, his gifts, talents and skills to do everything he could to love and care for the people around him.
If you really think about it like that, we can all be superheroes. Our purpose on earth isn’t a position or status, but our ability to use our gifts, talents and skills, to love and care for others, so that we can achieve greatness, creating the world that we all want to live in.
So tomorrow, when you wake up and get dressed for the day, do me a favor. I want you to stand in front of your mirror and do the superhero pose.
You know what I’m talking about.
Stand tall, feet shoulder width apart, hands clinched in a fist with them on your waist, chin up, chest out. I then want you to repeat this phrase 3 times, “Today I will be the hero! I will lift others up and serve them with my gifts, talents and skills because I was made to make an impact.”
Now go and fly! Be a Superhero. The world is waiting for you!