Conventional wisdom advises against discussing politics and religion at the dinner table, but in my household, it is a typical occurrence for us to use this time to express ideals and bond over lively exchanges. An unsteady political climate, the rising fear of North Korea, the dropping of the now infamous Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), and the endless questions about Russia, their involvement, influence and intentions, make for energetic and sometimes furious debate.
This Easter morning, was no exception as our discussion turned to positive role models and the desirable characteristics they must exude. Given the fact that my husband and son are both comic book junkies, it was no surprise when they unanimously opined that we need a Batman to restore our country’s equilibrium.
While other superheroes possess many attributes of a good role model, Batman is more relatable. He’s human. A tortured soul (grief-driven). A superhero with no superpowers which makes him more appealing to adults and children, alike.
A story of a young boy, Bruce Wayne, who witnessed the murder of his parents.
This tragic event had such a profound effect that Bruce commits to fighting injustice wherever and whenever it presented itself, with the ultimate goal of leaving the world a better place than it began.
Bruce spent much of his time in various universities, and is well versed in a myriad of disciplines, holding advanced degrees in biology, chemistry, criminology, physics, and computer science, and lesser degrees in criminal justice, engineering, and forensic sciences.
Since he possessed no super powers, Bruce relied on his inheritance, athletic prowess, and superior intellect to design and construct his crime-fighting arsenal, which would later prepare the Dark Knight for his war on crime.
After waging his war, Bruce began self-teaching many topics of interest. He is an excellent researcher and writer and has vehemently studied various pursuits.
Having access to an inexhaustible amount of money and resources enabled Bruce to hide behind his secret identity as a successful businessman and entrepreneur. His company, Wayne Enterprises, employs over 170,000 people across 170 countries.
Whether you prefer his personal or professional persona, here are 10 lessons that can be learned from both:
- Go after your dream(s). Commit to something that you are passionate about – something bigger than yourself.
Bruce Wayne developed a reputation for being a shallow, arrogant, brash playboy. Of course, his real character is nothing like this. He donates vast amounts of money to several philanthropic causes and his real character has few flaws. However, he plays this role to protect his identity, justifying that his poor behavior will serve the greater good.
- Defend those that are incapable of standing up for themselves.
The most impressive thing about Batman isn’t the people he punishes, it is the people he saves. Batman has suffered extreme loss and has taken the pain that was inflicted on him and harnessed it to protect the innocent from injustice. It is his mission to stand up for the ones that cannot or will not fight back. Batman takes it upon himself to become the voice of the abused and afraid until they can find their own voice, so that they can be counted too.
- Stand your ground while applying fairness and justice whenever possible.
While Batman may seem tough as nails, using violence when necessary, he never goes for the kill. He is an advocate for human rights and generally believes in the good of people, no matter their past. As someone who studied criminology, it is no surprise that Batman believes in criminal rehabilitation whenever possible. He doesn’t give up on people, even those that have caused him harm.
- Practice everything you do with humility.
While Batman is considered passionate, ethical, selfless, philanthropic, and a humanitarian, he is more commonly referred to as a hero – a label he despises and instead deflects the credit back onto the people who are truly deserving. This is frequently done in hopes that his admirers will recognize that they too, possess the power to influence change and do good in the world.
- Love your imperfections and realize you can make a difference.
The character of Batman is far from perfect. He’s brooding, impatient, obsessive, stubborn and has a temper. Psychologists have suggested that Bruce Wayne suffers from a few disorders including depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The trauma that Bruce Wayne suffered as a young boy could have emotionally paralyzed him. Many people would have shut down, shut off or disengaged indefinitely. Instead, Bruce took the pain he was feeling and allowed it to fuel his determination to change Gotham into a thriving city again. He accepted the fact that he had faults like everyone else. However, instead of focusing on his weaknesses, he chose to focus on his strengths and practiced continuous self-improvement, as evident by his many degrees and skills.
- Establishing a strong brand presence is necessary, even if you are a superhero.
A strong brand presence doesn’t just reflect your personal “calling card.” It makes a statement and sends a message that you are loyal, trustworthy, and reliable. Batman understood this when he adopted the Bat-symbol. It’s clear, easily identifiable, and represents everything that Batman is about. It is the image he portrays to the world, someone that is always there to help and that can be relied on when needed.
- Preparation goes a long way.
Batman is always thinking and is usually five steps ahead of his enemies. He is a planner by nature and has been known to have a contingency plan for his contingency plans. He constantly investigates, researches, and analyzes new and relevant information about happenings in Gotham City, as well as anyone who meets his acquaintance or poses any threat (that includes enemies and allies alike).
- Embrace the future by investing in innovation.
Wayne Enterprises invests heavily in innovation; spending millions in the research and development of new technologies that Bruce Wayne uses in his crusade as Batman, so he can stay ahead of his rivals. As a businessman, Bruce recognizes that failure to innovate often means falling behind your competitors.
- Know what you want to achieve.
From the start, Batman knew his purpose and mission. He had a clear vision of what he hoped to achieve and the value it would create, then used that vision to shape his methods and work towards his goals. His vision is what drives him. It is the cornerstone of everything he does. This is important to realize, because without a clear vision, your plans will soon lose focus and direction, resulting in failure.
- Team work is the key to success.
While Batman likes to think of himself as a loner, he has had a lot of support over the years from trusted allies with various skills, who have aided in his success. Batman recognized his need for others to help achieve his goals and offer insight and advice.
In summary, aside from his money, intellect, and athleticism, Bruce Wayne is nothing special. He is an imperfect person driven by the pain and suffering he experienced as a young child. He had a passion and vision and was somehow able to channel his pain enough to focus his efforts on achieving his goals. He had enough self-awareness to recognize his strengths and weaknesses, and chose to invest in himself by using the resources available to him, practicing self-improvement to prepare himself for his ultimate mission: waging a war against crime.
To achieve this, Batman heavily armed himself with an arsenal of tools. While there are over 20 gadgets on his utility belt, his biggest and best tools are: (*cough* money,) strong work ethic, compassion, tenacity, integrity, ingenuity, focus and ambition.
While many of us do not have the same resources or tools as Batman at our disposal, it is important that we take stock of the resources and tools we possess and leverage them to our advantage, becoming the best imperfect person we can be. In most cases, being armed with our own brains, ingenuity, charm, talent, strong work ethic (okay, having money and a nifty costume with a multitude of utility belt gadgets would be nice too), and throw in a little neuroticism for good measure, and you too can channel your own inner Batman.