UNLOCK YOUR SUPER POWER!

A few weeks ago, I had the great honor of teaching kids in 4th and 5th grade. While working on ways to translate my teachings in a way that the kids could understand, I discovered a great analogy that would work for all of us, whether we are kids or kids at heart.

One of the subjects I wanted to touch on was bullying. The thought of someone being singled out because they are different and being treated less than is something that I really have a problem with. Why should anyone being treated less than? I wanted to convey to the kids that we all have our own special abilities. How could I do that without sounding like I was preaching at them? Then the idea came to me – The Avengers! They are all a group of superheroes that all have different powers. The Incredible Hulk cannot climb buildings but Spider-man can. However, if you had them arm wrestle, the Hulk would win no contest.

I tried to explain to the kids that is how each of us are. Some of us are good at art. Some of us are creative in other ways. Then again, some of us are good at math and science. In my city, they are painting large murals on several different sites. These require people who are amazing artists. They are also constructing several new building projects. These new buildings need engineers, architects and people who are good at math. They also happen to be redoing several streets to make them more friendly to walking and riding a bicycle. This takes people who are both good at math as well as some artistic people to help make them look good.

In The Avengers, all of the superheroes have amazing powers on their own. When a really tough challenge faces them, the only way they can win is if they work together and combine all of their talents. The same is true of people. As adults, we spend so much time focused on our differences that we seldom think how well those differences serve us. I encouraged the children to explore what they think their own superpower might be. I would encourage you to do the same thing. What speaks to your soul? What can you seem to do and get lost in it? Is it gardening? Can you be working in the garden and lose track of time? Maybe drawing helps you relax and gain a sense of inner peace. For me, it is writing. When I am at a local coffee shop writing away, I often look up to discover a whole new group of people sitting around me and on occasion a new staff behind the counter. I am so focused and absorbed in what I am writing the outside world seems to fade away.

Each of us, whether 5 or 85, have a superhero inside of us. We have something we just love to do. We owe it to ourselves and our group of Avengers to allow that superpower to grow and develop. We may think that it is ‘taking away from what we are supposed to do’. Really, what we are supposed to do in this life is become the best version of ourselves and share that with others. The easiest way to do this is to pursue our passions. Do what makes us feel alive and then look for opportunities for us to use that power to serve our fellow humans (or animals or the planet in general). It will fill us with joy and make the world an amazing place for everyone.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM 4TH AND 5TH GRADERS

As I mentioned last post, I recently had the opportunity to speak to several 4th and 5th graders about being a writer and how to improve their school and their community. I approached the day of my talk with some trepidation. How would I take many of the seemingly complex subjects we discuss on this website and in my book and convey them to these young children? After all, many adults take a while to grasp some of the concepts! Then the above quote from Albert Einstein came to mind. “If you can’t explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough.”

These wonderful young people were giving me a great opportunity to learn a new way to convey my teachings in a simpler format. Could that be done? I recall one of my favorite virtual teachers growing up, Mr. Rogers. His children’s television program routinely tackled very complicated subjects such as death and divorce and broke them down to simple ideas children would understand. I would do the same with the issues I believe allow young people to make a big difference in their community. I wanted them to know that each of us has a unique and special talent, different from our friends and family, but just as important. I wanted to show them the different talents people were using to better our community. We have artists painting murals on several buildings throughout the city. Those are artists using their talents. We have engineers that are redesigning streets to make them safer and easier to travel on. Those are people using talents in math, design and many other skills. It is by pursuing what you enjoy and are passionate about that can lead to a better community. A city full of people pursuing their passions would be a great community indeed.

I also wanted to instill the idea of believing in yourself and your dreams, even if others don’t and it may seem as if they are right. My grandfather, the older person in the picture above, only had an 8th grade education due to growing up during the depression. Despite this challenge, he ended up teaching college welding classes. He did so because that was his passion and he invested in teaching himself. In my own journey, as some of you may know, I was told by a well-meaning English professor that I should never pursue a career in writing. The sad truth is many people cannot see what talents may lay untapped inside of us. In fact, it may take us a while to see and believe in those talents ourselves. If I had listened to that English teacher I would have never written my book that has touched thousands of lives.

Bullying. The last bit of information I wanted to relay to these amazing young people was the need to work together. Especially in today’s world, we are connected more than ever. Not a day goes by that we do not rely on others for things we do and use. Anywhere from the engineers I mentioned earlier that design the streets we drive on, to the people who make our clothes we live in and the cars we drive. There is the farmers who help bring food to our table, the garbage men and women who make sure our waste does not collect rats and flies to, of course, our amazing teachers who instruct and inspire our young.

I used an example to speak to children, but I think it can benefit adults as well. Think of the Avengers. It is a group of different super heroes. Each one has their own talent. Spiderman can climb tall buildings where the Hulk cannot. If they were to arm wrestle the Hulk would win every time. Each super hero has their own talent, but they can do the most good when they work together. Each hero brings something different they can do well, even if it is different from what we can do well. We all have our own ‘super power’. What creates great change and a great community is when all of us ‘super heroes’ come together and use our super powers to make our schools, families and communities better.

I am so grateful to the three teachers who gave me the great opportunity to not only speak to and inspire and empower their students, but who forced me to take a new look at what I teach and to be able to pass that knowledge on to young people. If we can teach our children how best to be not only good citizens, but good neighbors and good people, we have done a great gift to our world and to our future. It is with that thought in mind I want to take a moment to acknowledge the effort and difference teachers of all kinds make in the world. They have not only one of the greatest responsibilities and one of most difficult jobs, but one of the most noble – shaping our future through the lives of the young.

YOUR MOST IMPORTANT CHOICE 

Let us get down to basics here. Many people have forgotten how powerful we can be. We have a super power of sorts. What is that super power and what can it do? It can do a lot of things. It can bring you happiness in the darkest of times. It can turn a enemy into a friend. It can turn anger into compassion.

Be warned, however, this super power can also be used for evil as well. It can turn a great day into a bad day. It can turn someone we love, into someone who drives us crazy. It can take a misunderstanding and can divide people for life.

So what is this power? How do we use it? How can we control it? The power that can do all of this and more is the power of choice. It is not a power that is often easy to control and one that can take a while to develop, but once mastered can change your life forever. Let’s take the easy physical options. Do you choose to go for a walk and have a cup of tea and a salad after, or do you chose to order pizza so you do not have to get off of your couch and interrupt your Netflix marathon. Trust me when I tell you I am the first to advocate taking time to relax and enjoy life, but if you continually do either of those the results will be much different.

Now, on the more spiritual side, you have an even more powerful choice. You have the choice of meaning. What does something mean to you? People tell me it can be very difficult to always try to see the positive in a situation. I agree. Which is why an easier question to ask, especially in a dark challenging situation is this, “What else can this mean?”. Just assuming it means that the day and or situation sucks is not only giving away some of your power, or not using it to your advantage. It also feels terrible.

For example, in my recent car being totaled while I was in bed sleeping event I had. I asked myself, how on earth could this be good? Well, for one perhaps something on my car might have went bad and caused an accident while I was in the car. Causing not only loss of the vehicle, but medical bills instead. Maybe if this man had not hit my empty parked car he would have hit a car with children in it causing far more injury. Both of those could be true. We will get more into this next post.

So today think of all the choices you have made both good and bad. Think of the results they have brought you. Had you made better choices could you have had better results? Do not beat yourself up over them, just realize the power of your choices and work on controlling and developing that power. The next few posts we will look at ways to do just that.