Part 6 of my week-long Incredible Leadership series.
In the beginning, we all wanted to save the world. That’s what superheroes do. But times change and so do the people around us. Attitudes evolve. Change is inevitable. Leaders must change to forge a better future.
The world is a completely different place form when I was a kid, and even more drastically changed from the first time Batman put on the cape and cowl or Captain America picked up his shield. Both are men who constantly look at the world around them, adapt, and reinvent themselves to bethe hero it needs.
One of the worst things a leader can ever do is become complacent. Run for the hills if they utter the phrase, “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Those are the words of a villain standing in the way of progress. If I looked at my son and said, “Well that’s the way I did it when I was a kid.” I would be standing in the way of his own personal progress. He needs to grow into his own man and find his own ways. My job should be to hang back, watch, and only chime in with occasional guidance.
Captain America faced more changes during his adventures than any other hero I know. First, he went from being a scrawny kid to a bulky hero in a couple of minutes, thanks to the super soldier serum. Not long after, he winds up being frozen, only to be thawed out sixty years later, in a world he no longer recognizes. The government has changed, the people have changed, the only thing that hasn’t is him, his integrity, and his respect for all people. As if all that wasn’t enough, he and his fellow superheroes go from being celebrated for their powers to ostracized because of them.
Even though he is in his ninties, Cap is humble enough to learn from those who are younger than him. Early on in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he is shown with his buddy, Falcon, writing a list of modern music, movies, and books, he should look into. Later on in the film, Black Widow reintroduces him to the dating world and the hi-tech spy gadgets of today. Captain America is successful because he takes in all this new knowledge with an open mind and an eagerness to learn.
The Dark Knight has faced change in his lifetime too. He was orphaned after his parents were gunned down in front of him. As a young adult, he rejects his privileged lifestyle in order to train and find purpose in his life. After finally proving to an entire city that he is their guardian, their protector, Batman sacrifices it all so he can protect the reputation of a man, considered to be the future of Gotham. That man was a hero capable of standing up for good, who could reclaim the city from evil, without a mask. Batman accepts that public opinion of him must change because he is “the hero Gotham deserves, not the one it needed.”
Batman also faced a big change when took on a sidekick. At first, he had trouble with the trusting another person on his team but after Robin saved his life a few times, the Caped Crusader began to have second thoughts. He realized that there was plenty he and Robin could teach each other. Thus, the dynamic duo was born.
I know a thing or two about change as well. In the last year, my life has done a complete one-eighty from where it was. I became a husband and a father, all in a very short time. I’ve found that embracing change has helped me adapt. For example, when Bex moved in our movie and book collection has doubled, as did our collection of “stuff”. At first, I wanted to fight and yell about clutter but why do that, when I could use this as an opportunity to weed through my movies, books, and junk, and downsize.
When the baby moved in, life changed again. This one was a harder transition. Suddenly, I couldn’t just do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. My morning routine used to be reading the news over a cup of coffee. Well, that just isn’t possible if Boy Wonder is awake, needs to be changed, and wants a bottle. Rather than get upset about it, I work him into my routine too. Now I have my coffee during or after I take care of his needs. Once I have him set, we read the news together.
On a professional level, when you’re the guy at work who embraces change, or at least is willing to hear a new idea, suddenly people feel more comfortable coming to you. When you listen, you begin to earn their respect. And isn’t that what we’re going for here?
There’s an old saying that “the only constant in life is change”. So, are you constantly the problem or the solution? The villain or the hero? Personally, I think each and every one of you has the capability to become an Incredible Leader.
Come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of my week long series on Incredible Leadership! Same IncrediTime. Same IncrediSite.