This is my little Batman, double entendre pun intended, seven or so years ago. This is a kid whose interests, passions, obsessions, whatever you want to call them, have always been felt deep, by him and by everyone around him. There wasn’t a neighbor, friend or family member who didn’t know Frank could tell them all they ever needed to know about John Deere tractors when he was two, that his day would not be lived without a donned cape making him all-powerful at ages three and four, that he was obsessed with tall buildings and knew every stat about them across the world when he was six. Sometimes these obsessions collide, as they did so adorably in this photo: superheroes and baseball.
Frank’s intensity plagues him by making it difficult for him to shake disappointment off when the going gets tough. But it is also what got him up on the mound on Monday to pitch two scoreless innings in the second round of the playoffs with a splitting migraine that had him throwing up 15 minutes later. His approach to life can sometimes be exhausting for him and for us. But it is his superpower: his ability to throw himself completely into something.
And then there is my Maggie. At home, she is a typical little sister, annoyed by all that her brother does, over-reacts 80% of the time, plays the sensitive card to the nth degree, and started a few years back to show tweenage signs, despite not even yet being 10. But outside the house, she’s a shy one. She’s well liked, but doesn’t integrate easily into social settings. She is not part of a clique. She’s an observer. As such, she managed to avoid “girl drama” until just recently. And to watch her reaction to this drama has been very telling – while she may be shy, she quietly yet confidently sticks up for herself, and for those she holds dear. Her dearest friends are a complete motley crew. Few of them are friends with each other, and it’s difficult to find a common thread between any of them. This might make finding her place through socially-cut throat middle and high school difficult, as it has in elementary school. But it is a special quality that will ultimately serve her beautifully in life. Her superpower? She appreciates all different kinds.
I attended the Forbes Women’s summit yesterday, and listened to some truly inspirational speakers from Lilly Ledbetter and Christine Lagarde, to Eva Longoria and Jennifer Garner. I had to stop myself from feeling ashamed of my lack of productivity among these incredibly powerful and accomplished women in order to soak up all of the wonderful things they said. Rather than furiously taking notes, I mostly sat back, listened and enjoyed. There were just a few things I wrote down. Thank you, Desiree Gruber, for this one:
‘Remind people of their own superpowers.’
Why is this so important? Because positive reinforcement is contagious. Because even the most seemingly confident among us have doubts and fears that hold us back. Because there are only so many perspectives we can have living in our own bodies and minds; we simply don’t see everything we offer. Because we compare ourselves to others too often. Because our superpowers are innate, not learned, and so they are what we can always naturally offer to any given situation, if only we recognize them. As is the case with my kids, I’d argue most superpowers don’t necessarily make things easier or better. But they have the potential to make things wonderful. By helping people recognize their superpowers, we encourage them to leverage them deliberately. Which in turn will make them that much more super, and that much more powerful. And from that, all of us will benefit.