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Four lessons from Superman.

“Who’s your favorite?”

Several years ago my boys asked me this question while I was driving them to school. They were talking about superheroes and sharing their favorites. The boys shared names like Green Lantern, Batman and a little rodent with a big mouth named Rocket Raccoon (don’t ask!).

After sharing that mine was Superman, I was stunned to learn that the fellas had reached the ripe old ages of 7, 9 and 11 without watching this classic.

That evening, we made popcorn and watched the movie as a family. The kids loved it – and him. Afterwards, they were all humming the Superman theme song as they flew down the hall toward their rooms.

While watching the movie, I realized that Superman wasn’t just showing me how to fight crime in a fictional world, but how to parent, serve and lead in the one in which we live. Here are four lessons from Superman for parents (interchange “parents’ with friends, spouses, leaders) that apply to us all:

1. We all long for a hero. Superman operated in a scary and broken world. When something bad happened people would look around and cry out, “Where’s Superman!?” Then, faster than a speeding bullet, he’d arrive to save the day!

Our world can be a scary place, too. When friends can turn their backs flippantly, academics get strenuous, the push to succeed becomes overwhelming, and experiencing true acceptance seems impossible, our children seek someone they can respect, model, get attention from and give their love to. They’ll find that attention either with someone else or with you; either outside of your home or within it. Be that hero.

2. Doing the right thing isn’t always popular. Superman was always jumping into the middle of perilous situations with walls crumbling, bullets flying and kryptonite popping. While others ran backward, he flew forward.

Frequently we give into group thinking. Because everyone else allows their child to have this technology, that trip, or participate in those activities, doesn’t mean we have to. Be audacious enough to move in a different direction, the best one for you and your child.

3. Encourage them to fly. One of my favorite scenes is when Superman arrives on his first date with Lois Lane. Near the end of the date, he takes her flying. Soaring over Manhattan, she was first terrified, then a bit more relaxed and eventually comfortable. He then gently releases his snug hold of her, clasps her hand in his and lets her fly next to him. It’s as if she is the one flying.

As a kid, I’d meet my dad at the end of our street. He’d park the car, open the door and let me hop in his lap. I’d then drive the car all the way home! It was the distance of four houses, he was in control of the accelerator and brakes, had one hand on the wheel (the other gently guiding my hands): But I was certain I was driving that car. He made me feel, not just in driving, but in all things, that I could fly.

The world today lifts up and celebrates negativity that will stifle children’s creativity and dreams. Instead, dream big and remember that anything is possible.

4. Take time for you. In the midst of fighting crime, pursuing Lois Lane, moonlighting as Clark Kent and solving the world’s problems, Superman would occasionally retreat to his ice castle to recharge before returning renewed.

In the midst of carpool lines and work obligations, it’s easy to miss the miracle of the moment and instead become irritated by tasks of the day. It is important, then, to plan time to retreat and refresh. For many this cannot be a full-blown getaway, but could you steal five minutes to watch a funny video, rock out to your favorite song, catch fireflies this evening or wake up 10 minutes early to enjoy sunrise?

My friends, our children are starved for real-life heroes – and they aren’t alone.

Our spouses, coworkers, and community long for heroes, too. Let’s remind them through our example that heroes seldom wear capes. Let’s reveal to them that in the chaos today there is hope for tomorrow. And let’s inspire them to dream bolder, soar higher and forge new paths.

Some days you may feel like Clark Kent. But it’s time to remember this truth: you’re Superman, too, and the best is yet to come.

This is your day. Live Inspired.

6 replies on “How To Be a Hero”

John, Weekly you cease to amaze me with how similar we are. I tell my wife every week that I look forward to meeting you one day and thanking you in person for your book, inspiring messages, and thoughts. It is truly a gift from God. Your only fault is that you are a Cardinals fan as oppossed to my beloved Yankees. Which Superman movie did you watch with the boys? I am dying to know.

Brilliantly summarized! What a great reminder for us to look for and recognize admired behaviors in all things we encounter daily. I appreciate your ability to pull lessons from experiences that most of us simply look at as entertainment.

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