I remember that it was during middle school that I began collecting Iron Man comic books.
I don’t know if it was Tony Stark’s playboy swagger or his awesome suit that rocked me. Almost everyone has childhood memories of their superheroes and one’s immediate desire to “validate” why his/her superhero was the best. Personally, I’ve always been intrigued in how we create and identify with superheroes… especially during adolescence.
It was not until recently I dusted off (OK I’ll admit it, I had to download it…) some old Black Sabbath and played Iron Man, that it hit me. Reading the lyrics from the song, I drew a parallel between youth development and pop culture (in this instance comic books and rock music). To paraphrase the song (you can download the lyrics), Iron Man is not a hero but a villain. But like most villains, he did not start off as a villain. He actually travels through time for future for mankind… and was turned into steel by a magnetic field. But the people do not want him and turned their heads in rejection.
I reflected on these lines and asked, “How many of our young people have aspirations of a superhero only to be ignored, rejected, mocked, and ridiculed and told to be reasonable and realistic? How many of our young people have a deep desire to contribute, only to be stifled… and find an alternative (and possibly destructive) way to “contribute”.
What’s even more AMAZING, is that this is NOT only relevant for youth.
As my mentor, Gary Moody, engrained in us time and time again “youth development starts with staff development”. One has to engage and develop adult learners to believe in the mission and vision of the organization with almost religious fervor, and then in turn share that transformation with our youth. We would even ask applicants, “If you could be any superhero, who would you be? Why?” There was a point in time where colleagues of mine would leave “Sorry I can’t answer your call today, I’m out here fighting crime and saving lives” as a voicemail message. And they REALLY believed it!!!!
And then something happened…
I wish I could pin point the exact cause. What I do know is that we slowly became our job title, and simply just that. Prior to this we were bigger than our job title. We believed we had supernatural powers of inspiring the uninspired… Interestingly enough, when you look up the word “inspire” in the dictionary some of the definitions are: to communicate or suggest by a divine or supernatural influence. Or to infuse (breath, life, etc.) by breathing (usually fol. by into).
“Do we not breathe life into schools between the hours of 3pm-6pm?” and “Do we not breathe life into the lives of students and teachers before, during and after school?”
Many of us can testify that “we do what we do” NOT for the awards and most certainly NOT for the pay.
But rather, we do it because we believe it is our calling in life. We do it because we believe it is why we’ve been placed on this earth. And to many this seems as being totally unreasonable. And with that, consider this, that ANYTHING extraordinary in your life, you were, in essence, being totally unreasonable in achieving it.
-Being the first to go AND graduate college and then inspiring and entire family to go to follow that lead.
-Moving out to a different city and state with no family to pursue your dreams.
-Working the hours you do and sacrificing your biggest commodity, your time: Time with your family and loved ones.
You being unreasonable and doing the “work,” have produced extraordinary results.
I now ask you the question, “Have you forgotten that you are a superhero?”
Author Profile: @diegoarancibia