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Taking The Vow of Super Heroism 1I , (insert name here), also known as (insert Super hero Name here) promise to always use my SuperHero powers for good. I promise I will use the items I’ve purchased here today safely and in the name of Justice.  I promise to remain ever vigilant, ever true.

-Required Oath before any purchase at The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store

When Chris refers to his blog as Awakening Your Superhero, I always think of this as a collection of messages to remind us to be a bit better than we are every day, and to do a bit more for others.  Dave Eggers and his 826 project, which provides free tutoring and writing coaching for kids in eight centers across the Country embodies the spirit of this heroism in all of its locations, especially in the center located behind the secret wall in the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store.  Anyone wishing to make a purchase of their excellent Superhero supplies must take the Vow of Heroism, complete with hand over heart.  As silly as it may seem, I felt special as I recited the vow, and I hope by reading this blog, you will consider taking a similar vow as well.

Vows and slogans are ideals to live up to.  The tough part, as we all know too well, is taking those broad statements of good intention, and making them operational- making them work every day.  To help you with that, here is my list of every day action items that help me live up to my Vow of Heroism (my Super Hero To Do List):

1. Do something for someone else without any expectation of return, at least once a week.  This means starting to look out for others as you look out for yourself.  It may mean helping someone spontaneously without being asked.  It may mean making a special snack for your kids.  It may mean heading off trouble for a friend.  It could be anything, but it should be something that’s done just to be a good human being, without any thought of pay back.  Maybe it’s doing a volunteer job, or going that extra mile for a customer- anything that requires you do more than the average.  The secret here is that you do get a return, whether it’s karmic or just the warm feeling you get inside, but the act of doing something just because is a super power to everyone you interact with.

2. Be Brave.  Try something that’s out of your comfort zone, or confront a fear you have, and deconstruct why it scares you so much.  Whenever I feel myself resisting or avoiding something, I know that’s often fear-based.  Once I start tearing the thing apart, I find out I’m afraid of failing, of being wrong, of feeling stupid or humiliated or admitting a mistake.  In the end, fessing up to myself and owning whatever it is helps me get rid of the fear and move forward.  It’s not easy, but trust me, facing your fear in the eye is the most important skill you can have to awaken your own Super Hero powers.  (Everyone has a weakness to their own version of Kryptonite.)

3.  Be Loyal.  This means looking out for friends, colleagues, and clients.  It means warning friends of pending trouble, and also looking out for opportunities they can use even if you can’t.  If you see a job advertisement, for example, that’s not right for you, is there anyone in your network who could use it?  Can you tweet it out and see if it gets to the right person?  Can you offer someone help or pointers without sounding like you are secretly trying to diss them or seem superior?  Can you offer them helpful advice?  These little acts of looking out for others and having their back will make you the best friend anyone has ever had, and that’s value beyond measure.

4. Be Reverent.  This means being respectful of others and their powers, and maybe even looking for ways you can all work together for the greater good of your community and/or your business.  Respect the talents of others, and look for ways they compliment your own.  By knowing your own strengths and those of others, you can overcome any of those pesky weaknesses as a joint force.

5. Remember that Today’s Side Kick is Tomorrow’s Super Hero.  For goodness sakes, don’t tear apart other super heroes or their side kicks and minions just because their talents are not yet as evolved as yours.  Everyone starts on a different point of the path, so help nurture those sidekicks and minions into true independent heroes of their own.

6. And remember Villians who have a change of heart will be welcomed and not be referred to as “on a short leash”.  Even those who have spent time on the Dark Side can have a change of heart at any time.  It’s often hard to regain trust once its lost, but we’ll be better off if we assume that everyone is well-meaning and trying their best.  For the few times I guess incorrectly at someone’s motive or purpose, I gain more from expecting people to live up to high expectations than I ever do lowering the bar or assuming the worst.  It’s a risk we Super Heroes have to take.

I hope these pointers help you channel your Super Hero.  I know Chris helps me find mine, and challenges me to do my best every day, and I hope collectively, we can help you do the same.

Taking The Vow of Super Heroism 2Whitney Hoffman is Director of Operations for the Podcamp Foundation, a digital media consultant, and author of the upcoming Differentiated Instruction Book of Lists, to be published by Jossey Bass, a division of Wiley & Sons this summer. You can find her online on twitter @LDpodcast, or on her various blogs www.whitneyhoffman.com or www.differentiatedinstruction.co.

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