My Superhero Philosophy

The Superhero Mythos:
I just gave my last lecture as a Meltwater Teaching Fellow on Tuesday, 02 December 2008. The final topic had little to do with business or entrepreneurship, instead I told the trainees a story about myself and the three-fold superhero philosophy that I use to guide my life. Here it is. I am currently in my Batman phase; read on to see what I mean.

Just after his receiving his amazing abilities, Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spiderman)’s uncle told him that “with great power, comes great responsibility.” I have internalized this idea and it has given me the impetus which all of my other work rests upon. I grew up in a family without a lot of money, but I would never say we were poor. We didn’t have the debilitating mentality and deficit of opportunities that plagues most poor families, but I did know many people who were more adversely affected by their economic standing than I was. I was blessed with intelligence and charisma that many people I knew didn’t have or failed to utilize. I was also born into a family that encouraged my development and growth, I was born into a country where even some of the poorest families have electricity, clean water, and shelter. I feel I was given great power through my intelligence, which made it possible for me to succeed in school and my charisma, which made it possible for me to gather social capital that was probably outside the reach of most people in my socioeconomic position. These blessings have lead me to believe that it is my responsibility to help others. With this belief secure in my mind and heart I went off to pursue the knowledge and skills that would help me fulfill my responsibility.

Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) experienced an extreme sense of loss as a child when his parents were gunned down by a thief. He used that experience to push himself to the peak of human mental and physical capability. He traveled, learning the secrets of the world, and he trained his mind and body with one goal in mind: He would use his skills to ensure others were spared the pain he felt. Batman, unlike Spiderman was not blessed with great power, he pursued it; he felt the sense of responsibility first and then went out into the world and into his soul to find it. So while I believe I have been blessed with intelligence and charisma, I feel that I can acquire skills. So I devoted myself in high-school and college to gathering as much talent and skill as I could so I could use my power to help others. I chose to study electrical engineering because I thought it was the most useful course of study and could be used to solve problems. During my quest I began thinking about what I would do once I had gained enough knowledge, skill, and ability to be powerful. Doesn’t power corrupt?

Clark Kent (aka Superman) was given incredible power- nearly absolute power. Imagine being a small child with an impulsive attitude and selfish nature (as most children are), but imagine that no one could stop you. What would you do? Would you abuse such power? The most remarkable thing about Superman is not that he felt a responsibility to use his power for good, like Spiderman, but that he chose not to use his powers for evil. He had the ability to dominate the world, but chose not to – Superman’s greatest power is his restraint. I hope to exercise Superman’s level of restraint in my life once I have gained enough skill, status, and knowledge to be considered powerful.

I feel blessed to have the talents and opportunities I have had in my life and for as long as I can remember I have felt a responsibility to use my gifts to affect change and help people (Spiderman Phase), but I knew that the gifts I was naturally blessed with would not be enough, so I resolved myself to gather as much skill and knowledge as possible; I wanted to become powerful in order to help others (Batman Phase). But I knew that becoming powerful was a dangerous quest and that once I acquire such power I must be wise enough that I do not become complacent or use my power for selfish gains. It may be juvenile, it may be immature, but this is seriously the philosophy that guides my life.


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