Apart from their entertainment value, super hero movies and games are also a great source of inspiration. Batman movies, for instance, highlight the tremendous importance of perseverance and excellence in life. Here are a few observations that I’d like to share with you.
What you do defines you, not who you are underneath
You may be the smartest cookie from your batch; you may be the most competent manager in your firm; you could have graduated from the best school in the country. But, can you do what it takes? Can you go the extra mile? Can you fix glitches at the eleventh hour? Can you make up for the drawbacks of your colleagues? Can you solve the problem that others couldn’t? Can you burn the midnight oil, to make sure that our clients get the absolutely perfect deliverable?
Hard work can make anyone a superhero
Batman didn’t get superpowers by birth (like Superman) or as a gift (e.g. Green Lantern). He is the product of decades of hard work. He learns multiple styles of martial arts, man-hunting, hand-to-hand combat, traditional healing disciplines, ventriloquism, and so on. There are also several stories where Batman is shown to be continuously active – without food, without sleep – pushing the limits of human endurance.
There are many business books and theories that stress on “hard work” (or just thousands of hours of effort) and not “natural brilliance” as the key to success. Look at yourself. Do you think you are pushing yourself to the absolute limit… or are you trying to keep things light and manageable? Are you sure you can look back at any project, and say with 100% confidence that you did absolutely anything and everything you could — irrespective of the time/budget/available resources — or would you admit you compromised? Success doesn’t come easily. You need to work hard(er).
Why do we fall? So that we can pick ourselves up
Batman gets whipped so many times. So many villains almost end up killing him. He gets defeated physically and mentally, but he never gives up. He keeps pushing, irrespective of the odds, and succeeds in the end.
Think about all the bottlenecks you have faced…irate clients; less-than-understanding colleagues; stinkers from bosses; sudden sick leave of an individual you were relying on. Did you let these things bog you down, or did you keep your spirits up? How easily and how fast did you “bounce back”?
Little things matter
Check out this conversation between Batman and Robin:
Robin: You can't get away from Batman that easy!
Batman: Good grammar is essential, Robin.
You may be thinking that crime-fighting has really got nothing to do with grammar; but, Batman doesn’t think so. For him, the highest standards of excellence are desirable in anything and everything.
Let’s say you get feedback from the client – “Your team does a brilliant job; we love their work; occasionally there is a typo…”. If you received this feedback, would you sweat over the minor details (“how could a typo slip through in my output?”) or would you just focus on the positive elements (“ah, the client is broadly happy; typos are a minor thing”)? What are the benchmarks you hold yourself up to?
A hero can be anyone
Batman says this to Commissioner Gordon (referring to how Gordon helped Bruce Wayne when he loses his parents):
A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders, to let him know that the world hasn’t ended.
If you manage a team, and they are struggling with new type of work, or a demanding client, how do you help them? Sometimes simple words of encouragement work wonders, more than hours of hard work on the project itself. When we talk about excellence, it is not limited to our performance, but equally applicable to helping those around us achieve excellence. Go ahead, be a hero today. Do something simple and reassuring.
What have you learnt from Batman? Do share your lessons.