I want you to take a moment and think about this question: Who’s the coolest superhero?
Hmmm, did you come up with Superman? His name and various abilities certainly lend themselves well to the question; but he’s an alien and aliens are supposed to be either really cool or really evil. How about Spiderman? He’s pretty cool; but when you think about it, he was just “lucky” and got bit by a radioactive spider. Maybe you prefer one of the numerous X-Men? Eh, I really like them, but they’re just the result of mutated genes. Ah, so we come to Batman and Iron Man? I think these two are the coolest superheroes. Okay, so maybe their powers aren’t the coolest, but that’s exactly what makes them the best in my estimation – they don’t have powers. They’re just regular guys (albeit regular guys with boatloads of money) who chose to be amazing; no superpowers, no mutated genes, just two guys with amazing gadgetry and a burning desire to be a benefit to their peers. Aside from the gadgetry, isn’t that really what a superhero is – a regular person who becomes irregular because of their desire to be beneficial to their peers? Sure, but there’s another, more subtle aspect of it as well.
How many times have Batman or Iron Man not been there to save the day? How many times have they seen an opportunity to help and said to themselves, “Not today, I’m not in the mood to be amazing”; or, “Eh, someone else will do it, it’s not my job today”? Yeah, they would never say that. Neither would they go out and only give partial effort because they’re tired or simply not in the mood to be there. Superheroes are always there when you need them, and even sometimes when you don’t know you need them. They are always present. They are the person you always go to when you’re in a pinch, like the person you probably pictured yourself being when you got your job. Present.
Being present, that’s the secret to being super.
If you look up “present” in the World English Dictionary, you’ll see an entry there that reads: “Readily available; instant” or “Mentally alert; attentive.” That definition pretty much sums up all the go-to people I know. Sure, they each have their own idiosyncrasies, but each of them is always ready to go and always gives their best.
It’s not about the money, the prestige or the accolades for these people, in fact, I’d go so far to say that it isn’t even about the boss or the customers, it’s just simply that they’ve overcome themselves, and want to share themselves with others. You know who I mean, you’ve seen them, you’ve interacted with them, you may have even envied them.
Take Julian Beever for example, you may not know who he is, but I bet you’ve seen his work. Better known online as “The Chalk Guy,” Julian travels the world creating distorted chalk masterpieces that, when seen from the correct angle, appear three-dimensional. Julian won’t talk to you about how much he gets paid, or about all the major corporations who’ve commissioned him to do work, but he’ll be glad to tell you about “Meeting Mr. Frog” or that time Mother Nature decided she didn’t want him finishing a picture and gave him a flash thunderstorm; that’s because Julian doesn’t do his art for the money, he doesn’t do it for the fame, he doesn’t do it for the trips around the world, he does it because he loves sharing his unique ability with others. In fact, if you ever see him creating one of his masterpieces, feel free to go up to him and ask to see the picture from his camera. Not only will he let you look, but he’ll probably, very humbly, ask your opinion.
Being present is more than just showing up; it’s showing up ready to be amazing; it’s showing up ready to prove you are not just another CSR; it’s showing up ready to be you. Amazing. Powerful. A leader. A superhero.