Everyday Superheroes

“I always wondered why no one did it before me. I mean, all those comic books, movies, TV shows… you’d think that one eccentric loner would’ve made himself a costume. I mean, is everyday life really so exciting? Are schools and offices so thrilling that I’m the only one who fantasized about this? Come on, be honest with yourself, at some point in our lives we all wanna be a superhero.”

– Dave Lizewski, Kick Ass

Didn’t you want to be a superhero at some point in your life? Do you still?

The fictional title character of the 2011 film Kick Ass took this sentiment to the extreme, donning a costume and risking his life to save innocents in danger, despite having no superpowers to speak of.

We all may dream of making a big difference and changing the world, but most of us don’t find this to be very practical. Indeed, even superheroes often need to hold down a day job to make ends meet.

So how does an enterprising world changer resolve this? I posit that the solution is in focusing expectations on something far more achievable.

In fact, I bet if we think about how can do our part to save the world in just the right way, we might also find ourselves heading down a path that also addresses the question of finding true meaning and fulfillment in our work.

Enter the everyday superhero.

The everyday superhero is the person you can be if you focus your efforts on doing things that are practical and sustainable.

What does that mean? Lots of different things for different people. In the extreme case, a janitor might not be able to do much more with their time than clean things well. But if they take the proper attitude, they can take pride in the work they do, knowing they are helping make their corner of the planet a slightly more pleasant place. If they aspire to something bigger, they can use their spare time to practice something they find to be more meaningful or valuable (like in Good Will Hunting, but with a less beardy Robin Williams). But regardless of the scale, everything they do contributes to the big picture.

Because if you’re doing something that you enjoy doing, you’re setting an example for others. The effects of your actions might be far greater than you ever even know.

Who wants to be a big time superhero anyway?

Their job is never done; they are constantly burdened with unending cries for help from a society facing ever more dastardly villains. Their loved ones are always getting kidnapped. They have to wear the same spandex suit day in and day out. That’s a lot to bear.

Maybe being a full fledged superhero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe we just need to be a superhero to someone. Maybe we just need to be awesome at what we want to be awesome at, and contribute to making the world better in our own way.

Maybe, by aiming for something small and actionable, we can find our own path to having a much larger impact. “Think big and act small,” and all that.

I want to talk to people who are embracing this basic approach to their lives.

People who love doing what they do, regardless of whether it’s glamorous or lucrative. I believe that within these people lie the secrets that might help more of us discover healthier, more meaningful pursuits in our lives.

Are you an everyday superhero? Do you aspire to be one?

Even Thing's gotta make ends meet.


  • http://twitter.com/kevinebaugh kevin ebaugh

    Adding to your janitor example, one particular janitor from back in high school was one of the most memorable people from those days for me. I think that reinforces your point.

    • http://tonybacigalupo.com Tony Bacigalupo

      Wow Kevin! You wouldn’t happen to have any way of getting in touch with him, would you? I’d love to interview him.

      • http://twitter.com/kevinebaugh kevin ebaugh

        Hmm, I’ll be glad to try! Shoot me an email (kevinebaugh@gmail.com) and I’ll try to get you as much info as I can.

  • VTToonses

    I know I’m going be flamed for this, but, the Bible (and other books of faith) teaches us to glorify God in everything we do no matter how great or small. We do this by “taking the proper attitude”, doing it to the best of our ability, and by showing our love for others through our actions. 

    Your post is very much in line with this and I enjoyed reading it very much (although I do find spandex to be very comfortable). No matter the motivation, if we each follow your suggestions, the world will be a much better place.

    • VTToonses

      Apparently I *very* much like using the word “very”. Doh!

    • http://tonybacigalupo.com Tony Bacigalupo

      No reason for flames here, dude! Religions account for the fact that everyone in society must have a way of deriving satisfaction from the lives they lead, no matter how humble. Few other constructs in society promote such an ideal in quite so explicit a way.