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6/16/13 - Career Advice From the World’s Most Popular Superheroes


Superheroes are great examples for mankind. They teach us courage, selflessness, morality, and how to use unique powers in creative ways. We can also look to superheroes for career advice. After all, most of them have day jobs and live with two identities that are usually related.

With that in mind, here is some career advice from popular superheroes that just might inspire you to active your own super powers at work.

Superman: Paid and unpaid work can be equally meaningful

Most discussions of superheroes begin with the big man in red and blue, Superman. The orphan of the destroyed planet Krypton is also Clark Kent, the only adopted son of Jonathan and Martha Kent of Smallville, Kansas.

Superman's job is to protect Earth from cosmic villains though his powers of flight, super speed, super strength, super intelligence, and x-ray vision. His alter-ego has a different job entirely. Clark Kent is a reporter with the Daily Planet who fights injustice through expose and editorial, not x-ray vision. Still, Clark has made a name for himself by sticking up for those who might otherwise be silenced. So, in both in lives, as Superman and Clark Kent, the last son of Krypton has made it his life's work to make a difference by helping the community.

But Superman's ability to do his job is dependent on Clark Kent's work as a reporter. Without his efforts at the Daily Planet, Superman could not afford the cost of living. Superman may have world-wide fame, but he doesn't get paid to save the day. He pays the bills writing copy for the Daily Planet as Clark Kent. Without that steady paycheck Superman would be stuck at the Fortress of Solitude, starving.

So we see that Superman doesn't let the grueling hours of his day job keep him from his passions, or from doing meaningful work. When the time is right, he tears off his business suit and saves the world from impending peril. We should all take note of this: our careers can become an excuse to do forget the things that are most important to us. But with Superman as our guide, it doesn't have to be one or the other. We can pursue meaningful careers and still be dedicated to our passions. In fact, Superman demonstrates, that with a little creativity, we can find a career path in line with our priorities and life goals.

Batman: Find work you're passionate about and it ceases being work

Batman's alter ego, Bruce Wayne, sits atop a number multinational corporations and is quite the philanthropist. But aside from his putting in the occasional appearance at Wayne Enterprises and a unveiling the latest wing of Gotham General, Bruce Wayne really doesn't do much hands-on work in his corporations. As far as we can tell, Bruce Wayne's real work comes out of his basement getaway, the Batcave.

From there he wages a never ending battle against the enemies of his great city, Gotham. Tirelessly, Batman spends the nights patrolling the rooftops seeking out those who would do harm to the good people of Gotham City. Over the years he has developed a close relationship with the Gotham police department, serving as a kind of consultant, helping Police Commissioner Jim Gordon solve the toughest cases the city is faced with.

So Bruce Wayne/Batman has a significant lesson to teach us about our careers. Where some might see a third shift police beat through some of Gotham City's roughest streets and an always on-call investigative consultant position, Batman sees a tremendous opportunity. Toward this opportunity Batman dedicates himself wholeheartedly, never thinking of the tremendous sacrifice to his mind, body, and bank account this work requires. And remember, he does all this work without collecting a dime.

But that's not to say Bruce Wayne isn't interested in money. No one, especially a billionaire entrepreneur, is in the business of turning down money. For Bruce Wayne/Batman, this is his passion, it isn't work. Bruce doesn't think of his time as Batman in the same terms as he does his time in the boardroom.

There is a great career lesson built into Batman's arrangement. When you are passionate about your work, it ceases to be work. It becomes an opportunity for you to do what you love and wholly dedicate yourself to carrying it out to the best of your ability.

Spider-man: Stay dedicated to your goals and you will find success

Spider-man, or Peter Parker, has an interesting existence, specially for a superhero. After being bitten by a radioactive spider, he gained the powers of incredible agility, speed, super-jumping, super-strength, and a precognition ability he calls "spider sense." But Spider-man has a rough time making ends meet when he's not in his red and blue Spider-suit. Although he loves his time as Spider-man and feels a tremendous responsibility to use his great powers to help people, Peter Parker's professional life doesn't have the same series of successes as the web slinger.

Peter Parker works as a photographer for the Daily Bugle, a Manhattan newspaper. A dedicated photographer, Parker often doesn't get the recognition he deserves for his hard work. He doesn't get paid much either. But, as a photographer, he has made something of a name for himself, and despite the difficulties of juggling relationships and a superhero alternate identity, Parker stays dedicated to photography and continues to make new opportunities for himself.

Every time J. Jonah Jameson, head of the Daily Bugle, told Peter Parker he can't, Parker always answered "I can" with great resolve. In Parker's career, like all of ours, if we stay dedicated to our goals and preserve through adversity, we will find success. After all, Peter Parker eventually won a Pulitzer Prize for his photographic work with the Daily Bugle.

The Flash: Use all your skills and talents to do the best job possible

Barry Allen, or The Flash has probably the least well-known backstory of any of the characters discussed here. Barry Allen (The Flash) is a forensic scientist who was struck by lightning after being doused in police laboratory chemicals. This unfortunate accident gave Allen the power of super speed and he transformed himself into The Flash. He uses his power of tremendous speed to fight crime in his hometown, Central City.

Unlike any of other superheroes discussed here, Barry Allen, before he became the Flash, was already fighting crime in his career as a forensic scientist. The Flash only gives him the ability to better execute his job.

When he gained super powers he didn't turn his back on his career. He didn't try to start a career as a professional runner and try out for the Olympics. He found a way to use his new gift to benefit his existing career. This is what the most successful people do. They apply new skills to their career, and are constantly looking for better ways to perform their work.

Iron Man: Stay confident in yourself and you can do anything in your career

Tony Stark is extremely popular today. With three movies since 2008, plus cartoons, toys, and video games, you can't get away from Iron Man. And if there was a superhero who would be fine with this kind of superstardom, it's Tony Stark, the man in the iron mask. While he is something of an egomaniac, he still has a lot to teach us about our careers.

Tony Stark is the perfect example to illustrate that confidence leads to success. Sure, it helps to be the heir to billions and a genius, but Tony effectively demonstrates how if you have complete confidence in your own abilities, you can accomplish anything. 

When he was stuck in a cave and forced at gunpoint by terrorists to build a bomb, instead he solved the world's energy crisis, stopped the terrorists, and crafted himself a superhero suit in the process. In our careers we must think like Tony Stark. Anything is possible if we set ourselves up for success and believe that we can do it.

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