Back in 1997, I was 23 years old; I had just been dumped by a girl I really liked, I had a 12 hour/week job in an auto parts dealership, and I lived with my single mom. I drove a twelve-year-old grey Buick Skyhawk station wagon. Yes, I was, by all intents and purposes, a loser.
So, back in 1997, to take my mind off my problems, I went to see the new Disney movie Hercules – alone, obviously. It was a fun, albeit not very accurate take on the demi-god. Nevertheless, the movie was inspiring as it really portrayed the Hero’s Journey of the young son of Zeus. What stood out even more was the soundtrack of the movie, with Michael Bolton who was at the zenith of his career back then, hired to sing ‘Go the Distance’. Another song on the album was a catchy song called ‘Zero to Hero’. It was an adequate descriptive of the awkward kid at the beginning of the movie who was to become Greece’s mightiest champion by the time we reached the end credits of the story.
Yes, I admit it, as a geek, I found the movie inspiring, even if it was a cartoon. Back in the day, I also found other heroes inspiring. You see, I was an avid comic book fan. It had all started a few years back when Superman had died at the hands of Doomsday in the comics. That’s when I began buying and reading comics. And, oddly enough, I can say in hindsight that it’s also when I began my own hero’s quest.
To be fair, we don’t go from zero to hero in ‘no time flat’, like the song in the movie says. It takes, time, dedication, and a belief that we are meant for something more to become the hero of our own story. It actually took me years of spiritual and personal development to grow from zero to superhero of my own story. From the get-go, it took for me to believe that I was meant for more than a 12-hour job in an auto-parts warehouse – which wasn’t that hard to imagine.
So, did superheroes inspire me on my journey? Absolutely!
Here is what I’ve noticed during my years of comic book reading, personal growth, and now as a husband, father or three, author, coach, and entrepreneur: Superheroes are popular because people need to be inspired. Period.
And, interestingly, the people who like them the most are the people who need them the most. These are the people who find themselves most in need of feeling inspired and empowered.
Like aunt May said in Spider-Man 2 (by director Sam Raimi):
“ Lord knows, kids like Henry need a hero. Courageous, self-sacrificing people. Setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them, cheer them, scream their names. And years later, they’ll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them how to hold on a second longer. I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams.”
I was one of those ‘kids’. I can honestly say that, aside from my faith in God, good books, and a few good men, superheroes were the greatest inspiration in my life. While this may sound silly, they inspired me to always improve myself and made me feel empowered to do so. So, what am I getting at? Simply this: the demographics of those who dig comics point to a large portion of people who didn’t grow up surrounded by success – like me. The medium itself beckons those who need one of two things in their life: an escape, or a compass. I once mentioned in a podcast interview that ‘jocks and prom queens don’t usually read comic books.’ By that I meant that underdogs usually love superheroes more than those who seem to have it all together.
So, how can we grow from ‘zero to superhero’? What steps do the Clark Kents of this world have to take in order to become the Superman of their own stories? I have found the superhero’s path that can make anyone go from awkward, unsure, and broke to confident, successful, and inspiring. Here are those steps…
Superheroes know themselves inside and out. They understand that “if you don’t go within you will go without.” They have dared to face their own inner demons before they tackled super-villains. They know their superpowers, but they also know their Kryptonite. So, to quote Socrates, “Know Thyself.”
Dare to Dream
James Allen, author of the classic As a Man Thinketh, wrote: “Dreamers are the saviors of the world.” So, yes, if you want to be a superhero and ‘save the world’ you must first believe that you can.Steve Jobs put it this way: “Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world usually do.”It takes guts to be a dreamer in a cynical world. You will get punched in the face quite a few times for doing so… but get back in the fight and don’t give up. Optimus Prime, one of my favourite childhood characters, said: “Hang on to your dreams. The future is built on dreams. Hang on.”
Superheroes, especially when working as a team, always have a solid game plan. You don’t just go barging in the villain’s hideout and start taking prisoners. Usually, you need to strategize. The same goes with your life. Plan it ahead. What are your goals for the next month? Year? Five years? A good life-plan with precise goals highly increases your chance of success. Write it down today!
One thing superheroes do well is think positive, even in the face of overwhelming odds. I venture to say that they wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything they do without the right mindset (and superpowers of course). Superman, who oozes confidence, usually just flies in and tells the villains exactly what he’s gonna do: “It’s over. You broke the law. I’m taking you in.” His words are just an extension of his self-confidence. You need a positive mindset to go from zero to superhero. Negativity will never make you fly.
Never Give Up
On your way up, you will have setbacks… many of them. It’s part of the hero’s journey. Superman once said: “On my soul, I swear… until my dream of a world where dignity, honor, and justice becomes the reality we all share – I’ll never stop fighting.” Trust me, you will feel like giving up on your quest for betterment many, many times. Don’t stop fighting. Take Winston Churchill’s words at heart:“Never, never, never give up.”
Join the Fantastic Five
Jim Rohn, the late business philosopher and speaker said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Knowing this, you should make every effort to build rapport and surround yourself with great people – five at least. The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, The Justice League – they are great because the individuals on the team sharpen and challenge each other. They are great because mediocrity is never tolerated on their team. Surround yourself with people who hate to lose, and you will start winning.
Pursue Personal Growth
Learn, grow, study, think, implement. These words may not be sexy, but boy are they necessary! Consider the words of Mr. Fantastic (the leader of the Fantastic Four): “I stayed inside and studied, like a good little nerd. And fifteen years later, I’m one of the greatest minds of the 21st century, I’m engaged to the hottest girl on the planet, and the big jock who played quarterback in high school? Well he’s standing right in front of me asking me for my help.” There is a universal law which says: “If you do what is easy, your life will be hard. If you do what is hard, your life will be easy.” Personal development requires time, study, and effort. Do it anyway. It’s more than worth it.
Develop a Strong Character
Captain America, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman – they are no pushovers. They have integrity, morals, and a strong character. You wanna be the hero? Start by doing what you say, and stand by it. If you don’t stand for anything, you will fall for everything. Like the Captain said to Spider-Man in Civil War (the comic): “… We stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — “No, YOU move.”
The better you become, the more you can give to others. It is our duty to give back once we have been greatly blessed. Someone who achieves success, or wisdom, or knowledge, or financial riches can help others do the same. Don’t be a reservoir; rather be a river through which good things will flow to and through you. Be generous! Live fully and die empty! If you want what heaven has, you have to be what heaven gives. Become the man or woman you needed growing up.
So, to grow from zero to superhero, you must first build yourself up, and then build others up in the same fashion, by inspiring them to be the best possible version of themselves. If a guy like me could do it, you better believe that you can too! Get started today.
P.S. If you don’t know where to start and you’d like a meatier understanding of how you can become everything you can be, you can check out my book, which goes much deeper into how to become the hero of your own story and inspire others to do the same.
Check it out here: