The other day I was on the SkyTrain (subway) and saw an ad for a government job placement agency. The large ad had the word superhero written in the search box. It was something like this:
I chuckled to myself. I thought the ad was clever. How cool would it be to actually work as a superhero?
The train was packed and the rainy grey skies of Vancouver didn’t help much. So the amusing ad was a welcomed distraction.
What are the qualifications of a superhero? What are his or her required super powers? !
I started imagining all the people around me as superheroes with capes, cool costumes and masks. I wondered what tools and gadgets they would have.
After a colorful few moments, I started thinking about what superheroes actually do. It’s not about costumes and super abilities. It’s about what they do.
Superheroes take super actions.
Superheroes act without expecting validation or accolades. They actually (or at least most of them) prefer to do things on the down low—without much fanfare.
What is super action? And what makes it count?
In order to answer these questions, I started looking at my fellow passengers. But instead of imagining them with cool outfits, I decided to think of what their lives might be like.
I can’t tell for sure how they live their lives. But from this perspective and in that moment I started seeing the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary.
I felt I was surrounded by superheroes in my little corner of the world. These are the day-to-day champions. They are taking super actions at this moment.
After some reflection I came up with three main characteristics of superheroes.
Superheroes show up.
They show up no matter what. They keep going day in and day out, regardless of the circumstances.
- The kids who go to school every day with backpacks almost half their weight are the heroes of hope and tomorrow.
- The elderly man, who can barely shuffle his feet every few seconds, keeps on walking, no matter what, is another superhero in action.
- The bus driver who gets up and shows up for work every day, even on dreary rainy days where it’s so easy to just stay warm in bed is a hero.
Superheroes help others.
A superhero is focused on being of service to others. This is what demonstrates their super powers. On my journey I saw a few of those.
- The maintenance guy working tirelessly to ensure that we had a safe and smooth journey.
- A train worker walking around helping confused passengers with a welcoming smile.
- A young woman was more than happy to give her seat to an elderly passenger the moment he got on the train. She stood for more than 40 minutes.
To take action, heroes have to trust that they’re working with life and that what they do will have a positive impact. The following examples from my ride illustrate this point.
- The young teenage mother, pushing her infant in a stroller in the rain trusts that she will be able to provide the best life for her child.
- The bus driver asking a tourist to pay for her ticket at the next train station trusting that she will do it and giving her a free ride.
- The little green weed breaking through the pavement trusts that there will be enough nutrients for it to grow and thrive.
In the hour I was on the bus and train I realized that I’m surrounded by superheroes. Instead of feeling bored and uncomfortable with the crowds, I felt grateful.
I was in awe of everyone and everything.
Without what appears to be ordinary there will be no train, no travel and no one to travel.
More super action
Taking my observations further, I am more in awe of life and humanity. I see countless superheroes who:
- Love with all their hearts.
- Survive the pain of break ups and move on.
- Pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start over when they fail.
- Face serious illness and challenges with grace and dignity.
- Perform the most mundane tasks and serve others with grace and dignity.
- Create something—anything—even when they don’t feel like it.
- Allow their imagination to soar.
- Make the best out of what they got.
- Act with all their heart and soul giving their best to everything they do.
- Smile at strangers for no reason.
- Listen intently when others speak, giving them their undivided attention.
- Forgive themselves and others.
- Play and have fun. Dance to the music within.
- Don’t give up—ever!
Superheroes celebrate and honor life in everything they do.
You are my dear friend a superhero. The fact that you’re here reading, looking for ideas to inspire you and wanting to grow makes a hero of life.
The readers who send me messages and share their thoughts and struggles are my superheroes.
Next time you look in the mirror smile and embrace the awesome superhero smiling back at you.
Imagine life is the train and we’re all passengers—with varying talents and abilities. We breathe, we act, we grow, we help one another, we create and we share. We are what makes the journey so amazing. What a ride!