Why Superheroes Matter


What is most helpful is identifying our strengths and building on them.

Most of the time we can be really focused on our negative aspects and what we are not doing, or achieving. In terms of the performance literature we know that this isn’t a helpful approach. What is most helpful is identifying our strengths and building on them.

When I am working with students and especially younger children, I often use superheroes as an example to start identifying their strengths.

Every superhero is different, for example superman was born and came to earth with his powers. He has his vulnerabilities as well, such as Kryptonite.

Spiderman was an average guy who was bitten by a spider, and as a result he changed and developed.

Superheroes all have different traits but what they all have in common is the story of how they embrace and develop their strengths. It is the process of how they do this that makes them so interesting. This is a key way for us to play with the idea of improving our own performance. We absolutely have to know where our strengths lie and know the areas in which we are superheroes, even if it is just as a superhero fledgling, like when Peter Parker was first trying to use his spidey senses.

Our performance improves as we identify our strengths and build on them. If we can identify our strengths and play to them all the better. This is a key component in NLP and hypnotic therapies in which we imagine ourselves as our best version. We visualise ourselves as our best version in detail, in colour, vividly and we imagine inhabiting that version, stepping into it and becoming it.

For example, in Paul McKenna’s ‘I can make you smarter’, he repeats this process throughout the book in which we practise visualising our best self and repeatedly stepping into that version of ourselves.

For students a simple example of this would be instead of the natural tendency to come out of an exam and focus on everything that didn’t go well, try spending time clearly identifying what did go well. For instance did you walk in there calmly, were you able to promise yourself you would give it your best go, did you take your time. And when it comes to the actual questions did you pace yourself, and what questions were you able to answer and in what ways. In this way we begin to notice very consciously what we id well which means that next time we will do it again. We will build on it and we will extend those strengths as we go along. This is how we inhabit that better self.